SACRAMENTO-On December 20, 2019, Yaniv Gohar, 36, formerly of Berkeley, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and failure to appear.
According to court documents, Gohar created and led an illegal gambling organization that installed and maintained video slot machines at businesses open to the public across Northern California. Gohar then created a system by which he could launder the proceeds of his lucrative gambling business, involving shell companies and paying cash to employees of a co-defendant’s business in exchange for money transfers from that co-defendant. In total, Gohar laundered at least $492,475 through that business from Jan. 2015 through Dec. 2017. Gohar also laundered his gambling proceeds by acquiring a boat and real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Court documents also detail Gohar’s escape from the United States by charter jet through Mexico, France, and Israel. Gohar was first arrested on Dec. 8, 2017, in connection with his initial charges and released two weeks later on bond over the government’s objection. Four days later, he violated the terms of his release by failing to stop after allegedly crashing his Porsche Panamera into a parked car in Berkeley. He was cited by Berkeley police for reckless driving. On Jan. 3, 2018, he failed to appear in federal court for the violation hearing, and he remained at large for more than a year. In Sept. 2018, a superseding indictment charged Gohar with failure to appear and other offenses. Gohar was arrested and extradited from Israel in July 2019.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and California Department of Justice – Bureau of Gambling Control. Assistance was provided by the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and Israeli authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Miriam R. Hinman is prosecuting the case.
“This investigation by California Department of Justice Bureau of Gambling Control special agents and FBI agents put a stop to an illegal gambling business in Northern California,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “This type of illegal activity in businesses such as smoke shops and convenience stores can attract a criminal element and other illegal activity that degrade neighborhoods. Seeing this case through has taken much time, but agents stuck with it to hold the criminals accountable.”
Co-defendant Orel Gohar, 29, also fled the United States in Dec. 2017, was recently arrested in Israel and remains in Israel pending extradition to the United States. Co‑defendants Eran Buhbut, 34, of Oakland, and Raz Razla, 49, of Sherman Oaks, pleaded guilty and await sentencing. The remaining co-defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.