He claims betting on the Knicks as a kid led to his gambling addiction — and now rooting the club on at one of its rare playoff games might have helped land wealthy Manhattan art dealer Hillel “Helly” Nahmad in jail.
Manhattan federal Judge Jesse Furman on Wednesday sentenced the notorious playboy son of billionaire art dealer David Nahmad to a year and a day behind bars for being a major player in a $100 million high-stakes international gambling ring that drew A-list celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Alex Rodriguez.
The 35-year-old Nahmad also agreed to fork over $6.4 million in restitution and the rights to the 1937 painting Carnaval à Nice by American artist Raoul Dufy.
“The record here before me reveals that the defendant has contempt for the law — and that he believes the rules apply to everyone else, ” Furman said.
But before issuing his sentence, Furman cited a photo of Nahmad sitting center court at a Knicks game, May 3, 2013. It was taken just weeks after he was indicted for running the gambling ring, which had ties to the Russian mob, from his $21.7 million Trump Tower condo.
Free on $10 million bail, he could be seen cheering hard with his powerhouse lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, and Spike Lee two seats away. And Nahmad was sporting a Bicycle Playing Cards cap with a “King” card emblazoned on it.
In arguing Nahmad should serve a minimum of a year in jail, prosecutors said the scene depicted in the photo suggests he was “apparently making light of the seriousness of the gambling charges.”
Brafman argued Nahmad should get only probation because he had an otherwise clean record. The lawyer also claimed Nahmad got hooked on gambling by age 14, using a bookie to bet on Knicks games.
Furman said it’s “not a crime to go to a Knicks game” — even though they “might not be good.” But he also said it “struck” him as “surprising” that Nahmad would wear a cap flaunting gambling only days after being indicted with 33 others — including reputed Russian mobsters and notorious Hollywood “poker madam” Molly Bloom — for being part of the international ring.
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