SACRAMENTO — On November 24, 2020, Orel Gohar, 30, formerly of San Francisco, pleaded guilty to conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and failure to appear.
According to court documents, Gohar participated in operating an organization that installed and maintained illegal video slot machines at businesses open to the public across Northern California. Gohar also participated in two different conspiracies to launder the proceeds of the lucrative gambling business through co-defendants’ other businesses. In total, Gohar participated in laundering at least $650,000.
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 granted pretrial release. On Jan. 8, 2018, he failed to appear in federal court for a hearing, and he remained a fugitive for nearly two years until his arrest in Israel in December 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.
“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 Eran Buhbut, 35, of Oakland, has also pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing. The remaining co-defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.
Gohar is scheduled to be sentenced on March 2, 2021 and faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison for the illegal gambling offense, 20 years in prison for each of the money laundering conspiracies, and five years in prison for the failure to appear (to be served consecutively to the other sentences imposed). The actual sentence will be determined by the court.