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Problem poker player gets 8 years in prison for debt scam

/ 10:36 AM April 21, 2017

NEW YORK — One of the nation’s top poker players has blamed gambling for derailing his life while being sentenced in New York to more than eight years in prison for a $31 million debt collection scam.

Travell Thomas cried and apologized Thursday for his Buffalo-based debt collection business, which made false threats to thousands of people nationwide.

Thomas pleaded guilty in November and agreed to serve as much as 15 1/2 years in prison.

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A Manhattan federal judge was somewhat lenient, sentencing him to eight years and four months. The judge says she could go no lower because she needed to send a message to others who wanted to scam debt-ridden people with so little to lose.

Thomas says authorities saved his life when they told him he wasn’t allowed to gamble anymore./rga

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