A producer who worked on Liev Schreiber's new U.S. TV drama Ray Donovan has been sentenced to six months on house arrest for his part in an online sports betting ring. Bryan Zuriff faced up to a year behind bars for helping to run illegal high-stakes gambling operations linked to a Russian crime mob in New York and Los Angeles.
In July (13), he pleaded guilty to a charge of accepting a financial instrument in connection with unlawful Internet gambling, and he won the support of his actor friend Jon Voight, who stars on Ray Donovan, as well as directors Judd Apatow and Peter Berg, who all sent letters to Big Apple judge Jesse M. Furman, pleading for leniency in the producer's sentencing.
And it appears their appeals have worked - on Monday (25Nov13), Zuriff managed to avoid a jail stint and was instead ordered to remain on home confinement for six months and serve two years on probation. He must also complete 300 hours of community service, reports Deadline.com.
He was one of 34 people indicted in April (13) in relation to organised crime enterprises allegedly run by Russian-American gangsters, who are accused of laundering $100 million (£66.6 million) from illegal gambling.
Zuriff stepped down as executive producer of Ray Donovan in July (13) in light of his legal troubles.
Actor Jon Voight has written to a New York judge pleading for leniency in a producer pal's gambling ring sentencing. Bryan Zuriff, who works behind the scenes on Voight's hit new U.S. TV drama Ray Donovan, faces a year behind bars for his part in an online sports betting syndicate reportedly tied to Russian gangsters.
He will learn his fate on 25 November (13) after pleading guilty, but ahead of his sentencing, the executive producer has written a letter to New York judge Jesse M. Furman begging for mercy.
And in court documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, he has some big names backing him - as well as Voight, directors Judd Apatow and Peter Berg are also vouching for him.
Recalling the day his friend was arrested, Voight writes, "As soon as he was released on bail he came to the set to express his sorrow and shame to all of us. He was full of remorse and sadness. We thank God he didn't give up and walk away from his work.
"Despite the painful private challenges he was facing he was able to be there to finish overseeing the season's last episodes. There isn't one of us who has worked with Bryan that doesn't feel he is a fine man and deserving of our loyalty."
Apatow, who used Zuriff's home as a location for his hit comedy Knocked Up, adds, "It is not easy to allow a movie crew into your home for several weeks and to watch as hundreds of people move your belongings and disrupt your life. Yet, this is exactly what Bryan did, and he did so graciously and modestly."
The moviemaker admits he is "surprised and confused" by his friend's crime, adding, "Bryan has not made excuses to me for what he did. In my conversations with Bryan, he has owned his actions and taken responsibility. His remorse is genuine. I believe he is truly sorry for what he did and is ready to make amends."
Zuriff confessed to his involvement in illegal betting books in Los Angeles and New York during a court hearing in July (13). He was one of 34 people indicted in April (13) in relation to organised crime enterprises allegedly run by Russian-American gangsters, who are accused of laundering $100 million (£66.6 million) from illegal gambling.
TV producer Bryan Zuriff is facing up to five years behind bars after pleading guilty to running a high-stakes sports betting ring linked to a Russian crime mob. The 44 year old, an executive producer for Liev Schreiber's new drama Ray Donovan, confessed to his involvement in illegal betting books in Los Angeles and New York during a Big Apple court hearing on Thursday (25Jul13), when he admitted to accepting a financial instrument in connection with unlawful Internet gambling.
Zuriff was one of 34 people indicted in April (13) in relation to organised crime enterprises run by Russian-American gangsters, who are accused of laundering $100 million (£66.6 million) from illegal gambling, including celebrity poker games.
A statement issued by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara reads: "Bryan Zuriff spanned the coasts with his crimes, by operating his own illegal gambling enterprise in Los Angeles and helping to operate a vast illegal gambling enterprise in New York. With his plea, he becomes the first defendant, but not the last, to be convicted in this sprawling script of criminal conduct."
The producer, who also worked on Oscar-nominated war drama The Messenger in 2009, will be sentenced in November (13).
Representatives for the Showtime network, which airs Ray Donovan, have yet to comment on Zuriff's future on the series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Zac Efron has linked himself to a pair of projects he hopes will give him the chance to broaden his range, Deadline.com reports. In separate deals at Universal and Warner Bros., the actor is looking at a Ludlum-esque thriller and a Back to the Future-style pic, according to Deadline.
Efron will tackle Universal's Fire, a spy thriller that is an adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis' graphic novel. He would play a college student who is recruited by the CIA, only to find that he has been trained for a program that creates expendable agents, Deadline says.
Bendis will write the script. Neal Moritz will produce with Circle of Confusion’s David Engel. Efron and Alchemy Entertainment’s Jason Barrett will be exec producers.
A separate deal at Warner Bros. will put Efron in a Back to the Future-like film that melds two projects. One, according to Deadline, is a pitch from writers Tim Calpin and Kevin Jakubowski, and the other is a WB project called Algorithm that the studio was already developing as a directing vehicle for Nick Stoller.
Mark Gordon and Bryan Zuriff are producing and Alan Riche is exec producer along with Efron and Barrett.