Judge Calls Gambler's Bluff on Restitution by Poker

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 08, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Very few people out there can earn a living off of poker--even if they dedicate 15 hours a day to computer play.

But one New Mexico con-man thought that he could beat the odds, asking a judge to delay his sentencing so he could earn money to pay back his victims.

His plan? Restitution by poker.

Samuel McMaster Jr. pled guilty to 26 felony counts, including securities fraud and sale of a security by an unlicensed broker. The former insurance agent conned 23 clients into investing in promissory notes that were not properly registered.

Prior to sentencing, KOAT reports that he had his attorney broker a deal with the prosecutor and judge that would permit him to remain out of jail so that he could earn money to cover restitution for his victims.

He needed to win $450,000, reports the Associated Press.

Judges in fraud cases usually require defendants to repay victims, but it's unclear just why McMaster's judge delayed his sentence. The decision may have been influenced by the difficulty convicted felons often have earning money to pay restitution.

Unfortunately for the judge, McMaster turned out not to be such a master at the game.

His lifetime winnings? Only $30,181, according to KOAT. He only managed to earn another $1,461 before the court hauled him in.

With his plan a failure, KOAT reports that Samuel McMaster Jr. has been sentenced to 12 years in prison, 5 years of probation, and ordered to attend counseling for his gambling addiction.

He must still make restitution to his victims.

One could only hope he finally hits the jackpot.

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