Feds Allege Dennis Bleiden, Hollywood Finance Executive Turned Poker Champ, Stole $22 Million From Ex-Employer
Posted on: July 12, 2019, 04:00h.
Last updated on: July 12, 2019, 11:53h.
Dennis Blieden, formerly an executive at a Hollywood marketing agency, allegedly stole $22 million from that employer to play in professional poker tournaments, feed his online poker and cryptocurrency buying habits, and pay off credit card bills, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
Blieden, 29, was taken into federal custody Wednesday in Las Vegas after a grand jury indicted him on 11 counts of wire fraud, two counts of forfeiture, and a single count of aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment, between October 2015 and March 2019, Blieden was the controller and vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul, a digital company once based in Hollywood, but which relocated to London in April,” said the US Attorneys Office for the Central District of California in a statement.
The Justice Department believes Blieden embezzled StyleHaul funds from the time he started working at the company in October 2015 to as recently as this March.
If convicted on all the charges against him, Blieden could face a maximum prison sentence of 200 years.
May Have Bankrupted The Company In The US
StyleHaul, described by Variety as a “fashion, beauty and lifestyle digital media and marketing company,” specialized in representing social media influencers that gained fame on platforms such as Instragram and YouTube.
While the firm still has operations in London, it shuttered its Los Angeles and New York offices in March, resulting in 65 layoffs, because the company was finding it difficult to consistently generate profits in the US.
StyleHaul worked with social media influencers such as Joey Graceffa, Fleur De Force, Joe Sugg, and Dulce Candy. As vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul, Blieden had control over the company’s bank accounts in the US.
The former executive is believed to have wired money from corporate accounts to his personal bank and is accused of attempting to cover up his misdeeds in a variety of forms.
In May 2018, Blieden created a bogus lease “for the rental of a condominium in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, which bore a forged signature of a StyleHaul executive,” according to the Justice Department.
That maneuver allowed Blieden to swindle $230,000 from his employer.
“Blieden also created fictitious wire transfer letters purportedly from Western Union to make it falsely appear that he had caused wire transfers from StyleHaul to a client to pay money due to the client, the indictment alleges,” said DOJ.
Of the $22 million Blieden is accused of pilfering from StyleHaul, it is believed much of it went to fund his poker habit – both live and online.
“During the course of the alleged scheme, Blieden used money he stole from his employer to write $1,204,000 in personal checks to poker players, $1,134,956 was used to pay off his credit cards, and $8,473,734 was transferred to Blieden’s crypto-currency accounts, according to court documents,” according to DOJ.
Blieden will not be confused with the likes of Phil Ivey or Phil Helmuth, but the disgraced Hollywood finance executive did win the WPT LA Poker Classic at the Commerce Hotel & Casino during the 2017-2018 World Poker Tour (WPT) season, garnering $1 million for that feat.
He recently cashed in two tournaments – one in June and one earlier this month – bringing home a combined $36,603 for his efforts. In late February, just days before StyleHaul canned him, Blieden participated in poker tournaments with buy-ins of $52,000 and $103,000, respectively, said DOJ.
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