NEW YORK (AP) — 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.
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.