Poker player Billy Taylor from Arkansas has been arrested on charges of defrauding the US government of more than $88 million, including $42 million related to fake COVID-19 tests.
42-year-old Billy Joe Taylor, of Central City, Arkansas, described as “a special type of whale” by a fellow poker player on Twitter, was chief among those caught in a crackdown on suspected healthcare fraud amounting to $143million.
Last month he was pictured playing the $50,000 Super High Roller in the PokerGO series at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hollywood, a tournament won for $733k by Frenchman Arthur Conan.
This month he was in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service according to Connor Hagan, public affairs officer for the FBI’s Little Rock office.
Taylor appears to have been the central player in a scam that saw him filing false claims for mass Covid19 testing at two California medical testing companies he owns, Vitas Laboratories in Barling and Beach Tox in Torrance.
It is reported that at least one of those facilities had no actual laboratory equipment and the criminal complaint stated that fictitious tests were billed for, including in the names of people who had already died.
Taylor’s arrest led to multiple searches of properties by the FBI and other agencies, all connected to Taylor and including a high-end guitar store, Vintage Vibes.
Authorities seized luxury vehicles and high-end electronics among other items, all believed to have been bought with the proceeds of Taylor’s massive fraud scheme. The DoJ claim that the proceeds were laundered through shell corporations and used to buy luxury cars and real estate.
A Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office press release for the Western District of Arkansas decried the actions of Taylor and 13 other defendants across seven states.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic was raging, and Americans were suffering from the economic and health crisis brought on by this pandemic, these defendants were allegedly scheming to steal millions of dollars set aside to help ailing Americans through COVID-19 testing and other federal health-care programs.”
There is relatively little to be found in a quick online search about Taylor’s poker history, that $50k SHR appearance above notwithstanding.
Twitter, however, always brings out some details and Chris Stephens appeared to recognise him from the Texas Card House…
…and indeed Taylor, known by his nickname “Bildo” even managed to win the biggest pot ever seen in the TCH LIVE cash game, scooping $148,000 in the following hand…
Taylor, who has yet to make a plea in his case, is far from the only poker player to become embroiled in $multi-million fraud schemes.
Earlier this month we reported on Robert “Big Rob” Gorodetsky who was jailed for 28 months for defrauding an investor out of $8.74 million.
Gorodetsky tried his hand at professional poker before becoming one of the biggest names in sportsbetting, though his high-rolling lifestyle shared on Instagram turned out to be a sham.
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