Fugitive brothers gamble and lose

Israeli brothers charged with operating underground gambling ring in Sacramento are in custody after flight to homeland

This story has been expanded from its print version.

The second of two illegal gambling impresarios was recently captured in Israel and is now awaiting extradition to California to stand trial.

Orel Gohar’s arrest came on the heels of his brother, Yaniv Gohar, being sentenced to prison in December for the underground network of slot machines they were accused of running from the capital city to the southern border.

The Gohar brothers are Israeli nationals who were first arrested in 2017 following a lengthy investigation by California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control. According to warrant affidavits, video surveillance showed that Orel was the point man for a gambling ring that installed slot machines in the back of small businesses, including a smoke shop on Stockton Boulevard.

“Orel said they made half a million dollars for him last year,” special agent Christian Norgaard wrote of one of Gohar’s conversations with a witness.

The Gohar brothers are also charged with laundering at least $492,475.

The Gohars, along with associates Eran Buhbut and May Levy, were charged with engaging in illegal gambling, though Yaniv and Orel both fled the United States while on bond. Federal prosecutors say that, within days, Yaniv crashed his Porsche Panamera into a parked car and was cited and released. He vanished after that. He was the first to be tracked down.

“Court documents detail [Yaniv] Gohar’s escape from the United States by charter jet through Mexico, France, and Israel,” Lauren Horwood, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, wrote in a statement. “Gohar was arrested and extradited from Israel in July 2019.”

On Dec. 20, Yaniv Gohar was sentenced to three years in federal prison for operating an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit money laundering and failure to appear. Prosecutors say Orel Gohar’s return to U.S. authorities is imminent.