Former WPT Champion Dennis Blieden Pleads Guilty to $22 Million Theft
Dennis Blieden faces 22-years in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing more than $22 million from his former employers.
Thirty-year-old Blieden, who used to live in Cincinnati, Ohio, but now resides in Santa Monica, California, admitted embezzling more than $22 million over three-and-a-half years. Blieden pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft last week. The US Attorney’s Office fo the Central District of California warned Blieden he faces a substantial jail sentence.
Blieden held the position of vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul. StyleHaul is a digital company that relocated from Hollywood to London earlier this year.
The court heard Blieden controlled StyleHaul’s bank account and abused his position to ultimately fund his cryptocurrency accounts. The disgraced poker player purchased cryptocurrency with the proceeds from his crimes, money obtained by wiring company funds to his own bank accounts.
Blieden Stole Gargantuan Sums of Money From His Employers
Figures read in court made astonishing reading. The court heard Blieden purchased $8,473,734 worth of cryptocurrency. He also wrote personal checks to poker players worth a combined $1,204,000. An additional $1,134,956 was used to pay off his credit card debts.
Blieden’s stealing began spiralling further out of control. He began falsifying accounting documents in an attempt to cover his tracks. Entries were made to look like legitimate company expenses and authorized payments to the company’s clients. Blieden claimed the transfers to his personal accounts we equity draws from his holding in StyleHaul.
Blieden created fake wire transfer letters to make them look like they were from Western Union. His employers were blissfully unaware he was funnelling company funds to his own accounts.
The embezzlement scheme started to unravel when Blieden created a fictitious lease for the rental of a condo in Mexico’s Rosarito Beach in May 2018. Blieden admitted forging the signature of a Stylehaul executive to help push the lease through. Some $230,000 was transferred to Blieden’s account after he pretended the condo was being rented by StyleHaul’s employees and clients.
A Brief But Exciting Poker Career
The former Ohio resident was a relative unknown in the poker world before winning a World Poker Tour event. A cash in the $565 NL Hold’em Colossus II at the 2016 World Series of Poker netted him $832. Three weeks later, Blieden cashed in a $550 buy-in tournament at the Wynn, Las Vegas for $1,811.
He must have gotten a taste for gambling because he started playing higher stakes, presumably with his now seemingly unlimited bankroll. A 13th place finishes in a $5,000 NL Hold’em event at the 2017 WSOP banked Blieden $21,148. The best was yet to come.
Blieden bought into the $10,000 WPT L.A. Poker Classic in February 2018 along with 492 others. He emerged victoriously after several day’s action, defeating British star Toby Lewis heads-up to secure a $1 million payout.
His fearless, loose-aggressive style of play caught the attention of the poker media who though a new star was born. Blieden burst on the bubble of the $15,000 WPT Tournament of Champions after leading on Day 1.
Super High Stakes Tournaments
He also fired a $300,000 bullet at the Aria Super High Roller Bowl but finished short of the money places. A similar result occurred in a $50,000 and a $100,000 buy-in event at the US Poker Open. Those last two events took place in February 2018 before StyleHaul sacked him.
Only two more cashes adorn Blieden’s Hendon Mob profile page. These are a $1,603 score in a $1,500 NL Hold’em Bounty event at the 2019 WSOP and a $35,000 cash in the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Vegas event that was eventually won by Tom Marchese for $1 million.
That is likely to be the last tournament cash of Blieden’s brief but exciting poker career. This is because a judge warned him he faces the statutory maximum sentence of 22-years in federal prison. Blieden cut a forlorn figure in the court room and he is being detained until March 20 when he will learn his fate. and he is being detained until March 20 when he will learn his fate.