For all things there comes a time, and now is the time to return to the ongoing scandals at UltimateBet and Absolute Poker, in a continuing attempt to out all of the crooked people involved. This time out we take a bit of a detour and explore not one of the corporate bigwigs, but rather the bit player whose personal greed ended up outing Russ Hamilton as one of the primary cheats behind the UB mess.
Hamilton's involvement became apparent after a series of posts on the 2+2 poker forums by an account called Brainwashdodo, which was posting from Costa Rica, where by 2008 (and the appearance of these posts) the call center for the combined UB/AP operation was located. Brainwashdodo's posts were suspicious from the start, not because of the explosive data within but because of the veiled threat attached that there was much more that would soon be released. It was as if 2+2 was being used as a tool of blackmail, and sure enough, the posts from Brainwashdodo soon stopped, with only Hamilton directly outed as a cheating conspirator, even though indications pointing to several others were also present.
And now, in true Paul Harvey fashion, the rest of this particular sideline story.
I've accumulated lots of sources during the past three years of investigating and writing these and other pieces, on both sides of the UB/AP aisle. People who think that such-and-such a person must be "my source" are just wrong, because my work has been an assemblage from at least a dozen well-placed people... even if none of them ever knew the whole story about everything, due to the incredibly tangled net that was in play. But as for brainwashdodo, I soon received little pieces -- first from one source, than a second... then a third. The name, the background, the story behind brainwashdodo, it all came out in little bitty chunks. He was described to me first as a $3.50 an hour customer service rep with a clue -- he knew that the stuff he had was dangerous... and it seemed he'd cooked up a plan to personally profit from a chaotic situation.
Later on I got his full name, then still later supporting documentation for the blackmail attempts. And yet I held back -- because what if it was somehow forged? The hardest of the documentation itself was received from an anonymous source, too, creating another set of concerns. I needed to know that this was indeed the story behind brainwashdodo beyond any reasonable doubt, and today, at last, that final glimmer of doubt has been removed. I will not publish that documentation quite yet, but I will say I am in possession of both brainwashdodo's personal work resume and background, and an e-mail exchange between he and Paul Leggett regarding potential "compensation" for brainwashdodo's info. I was 99.44% sure the stuff was legit anyway, but after reading a transcript forwarded to me earlier today, it's time to open it up for everyone.
That transcript was from a recent Donkdown Radio podcast were Micon and Druff were graced by a phone call from the mysterious Travis Makar, who has often been described in scandal-related postings as Russ Hamilton's right-hand man, though some of the stuff I've been told painted a different tale. I've read the transcript, and it is indeed the real Travis Makar, as he mentioned a couple of specifics that no one other than the real Makar would know. They are also different specifics than those confirmed by Mookman and RolloTomasi, who were present in the chat room during the conversation. Be it also stated here that while I have -many- sources, none of those to date include Travis Makar, unless he's one of the two or three anonymous ones that have still provided credible data. To the best of my knowledge Makar had gone completely and utterly to ground, though that now seems not to be the case.
Okay, enough of the foreshadowing and teasing. It's time to get on with.
Based on all of the evidence at hand, I can no longer see any reasonable doubt nor need to delay publication. Brainwashdodo's real identity is Zoltan Rozsa, a presumed former AP customer service worker. Rozsa is a Hungarian national who worked in Canada for several years, working as a tour guide and carpenter before becoming involved in the online-poker world, and he relocated to Costa Rica to continue working with AP.
Now on to the real dirty stuff. When the cheating scandals broke, Rozsa somehow came into possession of many incriminating documents, though I now know he was far from the only one to do so. A lot of people were (rightfully) interested in covering their own ass, and a lot of people are still sitting on caches of important information. Rozsa was not, to my knowledge, the only customer-service rep to make copies of suspicious activity, and of course many of the bigger names already linked to the scandal had their own reasons to save things as well.
But unlike many of the others, Rosza at some point decided to make use of his knowledge for personal profit. The story I was told, long before I ever received any hard documentation, went like this:
1) Rozsa went to CEO Paul Leggett looking to get beaucoup bucks in exchange for his cooperation;
2) Leggett gave the matter some thought, but decided not to pay. Leggett instead decided to try to intimidate Rozsa by hiring some thugs to sit in a parked car outside Rozsa's apartment;
-- Aside: For those of you thinking the above is beyond the pale, just let it sit for a few posts, and we'll come back to it at some point and see if it makes sense. There were some strange things going on in Costa Rica, including a couple of pathetically hilarious Scott Tom anecdotes I've yet to share.
3) Rozsa, turned down by Leggett, gets hold of Russ Hamilton instead. Hamilton recognizes that he's already burned and that there's worse dirt to come out, and he immediately calls Leggett and says, "Are you crazy?? Do you realize what he has?" In any event, though, it's Hamilton that pays some amounts to Rozsa, and Rozsa duly ceases posting on 2+2.
I had been told by one of my most trusted sources that Hamilton initially paid Rozsa $80,000 in 2008, although Travis Makar in his Donkdown call-in said that no, 80 grand was the amount Leggett wanted to give Rozsa, Rozsa wanted more, and that Hamilton paid some other amount. I have also been told that Rozsa went back to Hamilton in 2010 for a second helping and received some smaller additional payment. I have not been able to verify this from additional sources, however, though I believe it to be true.
Indeed, a lot of the apocryphal tales I've been told still need verification, though I've been able to confirm many things not yet published. It was interesting to read Makar's account of the thugs parked outside Rozsa's apartment, because I'd heard that from a source not close to Makar. While it's not proof, it's unusual to hear the same story i two different ways.
What I can verify, however, is the nature of the exchange between Rozsa, who went by the tag "Zola", and Leggett. Leggett began his denial by writing, "I was thinking about it over the weekend and I have decided to not pay the extortion money." However, the exact nature of the information nor what the proposed business arrangement Rozsa had in mind is not included in the portion of the exchange I have received. What is included, though, is that Leggett slammed the door by reporting Rozsa to the authorities, these being rather more real authorities than those purportedly notified by the Mohawks of Kahnawake in their hilarious cover-up efforts.
Leggett wrote this to Rozsa:
"I have submitted reports of your crimes to the OIJ." The OIJ is the Organismo de Investigación Judicial, Costa Rica's version of the FBI. (Whether or not Leggett actually did notify the OIJ is of course another question.)
Anyhow, knowing that the information I have is indeed legit and that the information brainwashdodo holds is also possessed by others, it's time to swing the hammer again and knock down another wall. Let's see where the rats scurry this time.