Defendant pleads guilty in illegal gambling business involving video slot machines

A Walnut Creek resident pleaded guilty Friday to conducting an illegal gambling operation involving video slot machines installed at businesses from Sacramento to San Jose.

May Levy, 27, is one of four Israeli citizens named in an affidavit unsealed in federal court in Sacramento in December. Levy and co-defendants Eran Buhbut, 32, of Oakland; Yaniv Gohar, 34, of Berkeley; and Orel Gohar, 27, of San Francisco were part of the Gohar organization, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office news release.

In violation of California law, the organization, including Levy, installed and maintained video slot machines at businesses open to the public across Northern California. The members split the proceeds of the machines with the owners of the small businesses where they were installed.

Levy was responsible for machines placed in businesses in Stockton, Sacramento, Concord, Hayward, Antioch, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Richmond, San Jose, Watsonville and Salida, the news release said. Levy collected approximately $3,000 to $4,000 per week from the locations on behalf of the organization.

Levy remains out of custody pending sentencing, scheduled Aug. 3, by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr.

Buhbut is set for a status conference on June 1.

Yaniv Gohar and Orel Gohar failed to appear at court hearings in January and warrants have been issued for their arrest.

The case resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Justice - Bureau of Gambling Control.

The investigation began in September 2015 and followed a similar probe of a suspect known as "Dino the Casino," an Israeli national named Nive Hagay, who pleaded guilty in May 2017 to a count of illegal gambling and one count of cocaine distribution. He was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to forfeit about $320,000 in cash, vehicles and other assets.

The Gohar investigation began with a tip from an informant who spotted a video slot machine inside a Stockton Boulevard smoke shop and evolved through the use of a paid "confidential human source" and undercover video surveillance according to the affidavit.