John “Jack” Roberts Jr., 59, used to be a respected real estate attorney in Massachusetts. He coached his town’s basketball team, and routinely volunteered his time for local causes. Now, he faces charges of larceny after admitting that he stole $650,000 from a client to fuel his online poker habit.
Roberts took the money from a Middleboro resident named Norman Sasville. He wired the money directly to his favorite online poker sites in the United States, where he liked to play in poker tournaments during his spare time. He pleaded guilty on Friday in Barnstable Superior Court.
The disbarred attorney has since been sent to Taunton State Hospital for a pre-trial psychiatric evaluation. “He’s had some issues,” said assistant district attorney Nicole Manoog. Robets has in the past been treated for mental health issues, and twice attempted suicide. The judge presiding over the case decided Roberts should be evaluated so that a fitting sentence could be delivered.
This is actually the second time Roberts has been caught stealing from clients to fuel his habit of gambling at American poker rooms. In 2007, he was sentenced to house arrest after admitting to stealing $137,000 from a woman’s estate to play poker online. Roberts was in control of the woman’s $600,000 estate, and was entrusted with managing its finances.
Roberts will not be prosecuted for gambling online, since American gambling laws do not actually forbid online gambling, despite popular belief. American players can sign up at poker rooms and other gambling sites that are hosted in other countries. The actual laws only forbid banks from processing financial transactions to and from online gambling sites in the US, but there are plenty of other ways to fund online gaming accounts.