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WSOP Poker Pro Accuses DOJ of ‘Racially Motivated’ Debt Collection

World Series of Poker (WSOP) pro Travell Thomas is accusing the US Department of Justice of racial profiling in its effort to prosecute him for debt fraud.

Thomas is also looking to depose Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara as part of the process.

The WSOP circuit player was one of 11 people who were arrested last year in Buffalo, NY for their roles in a debt collection agency the DOJ regularly used abusive tactics to collect cash. Workers at the agency allegedly threatened physical harm to clients; and sometimes posed as law enforcement officials, both of which violate legal standards for US debt collection.

During the course of their run, however, the belligerent bill collectors were able to haul in slightly over $ 31 million from their clients, according to the New York Post.

Thomas not only dismisses the charges out of hand, he also says that Preeth’s office is racially biased when it comes to its prosecution of debt collection companies. In his complaint, he points out that the only debt companies Preeth’s office prosecutes criminally are those run by African-Americans, like himself.

Preeth’s office denies any wrongdoing in their prosecution and were quick to point out that the civil actions Thomas is referring to originated from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), not the DOJ. The DOJ also points out that none of the actions Thomas uses as examples even rose to the level of criminal prosecution.

Thomas’ move to depose Preeth as part of the process is a long shot that seems aimed more at annoying the widely despised prosecutor, rather than actually proving a point.

If convicted on all charges, Thomas faces a maximum of 40 years behind bars.




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