U.S. charges 6 in Bucks firm in alleged overseas gambling fraud

Posted: February 11, 2011

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia filed criminal charges Thursday against six operators of a Bucks County business that allegedly distributed $44 million in overseas gambling winnings to U.S. citizens in 2005 and 2006.

The same group, led by Donald Hellinger, played a central role in helping telemarketers defraud elderly victims of $60 million over 11 months ending in February 2006, when their Newtown company, Payment Processing Centers L.L.C., was closed by a federal judge.

The alleged illegal Internet gambling activities described in the indictment, which resulted from more than four years of grand jury proceedings, happened at the same time as the telemarketing fraud.

"We, of course, intend to fight it," Hellinger said of the indictment in a brief telephone interview Thursday. "Other than that, we have no comment." He declined to say if he was still president of Nylon, a New York fashion magazine.

Hellinger, who was born in 1956 and now lives in New York, according to the U.S. attorney, has since the 1980s run a string of businesses that have led to run-ins with regulators and law-enforcement officials.

"Several of those businesses may have been on what was felt at the time the cutting edge in industries where there was little if any regulatory guidelines or history," Hellinger said in a 2009 e-mail.

Internet gambling fits that bill.

Prosecutors alleged that Hellinger and his codefendants illegally transferred and laundered money.

Also facing those and other charges are Ronald Hellinger, Michael Weisberg, Randy Trost, Jami Pearlman, and Michele Quigley. If convicted, they face maximum sentences of 91 years in prison and a fine of up to $4.25 million, the U.S. attorney said.

Contact staff writer Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or hbrubaker@phillynews.com.

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