And one by one, they pleaded not guilty before Judge Jesse M. Furman of Federal District Court. Among them was Hillel Nahmad, a scion of a prominent art-dealing family.
The hearing signaled the complexity and scale of the case, whichprosecutors say involves two separate but overlapping criminal groups whose activities stretched from Russia and Cyprus to Los Angeles and New York.
The groups used some of the same means to launder proceeds from illegal sports gambling Web sites, and they often advised each other, said the assistant United States attorney prosecuting the case, Harris Fischman.
Investigators recorded as many as 25,000 phone calls, Mr. Fischman said, most in English but a few in Russian, and they tapped nine cellphones over four months. They also searched e-mail accounts, homes and businesses, seized computers and gathered records from about 300 bank accounts, spawning thousands of pages of evidence.
Mr. Fischman estimated a trial would take one or two months. A lawyer for Mr. Nahmad, Benjamin Brafman, disagreed.
“If everyone in this courtroom decides to go to trial,” Mr. Brafman said, “I think the one-to-two-month estimate is, with respect, ridiculous.”
Other defense lawyers expressed anxiety about the time needed to prepare for trial, given the volume of evidence and the number of defendants. Lawyers had been appointed for some just a few hours before the hearing.
“Some of us haven’t even met,” Mr. Brafman added.
Judge Furman, nevertheless, set a trial date for June 9, 2014.
Mr. Nahmad, 34, who is known as Helly, runs the prestigious Helly Nahmad Gallery at the Carlyle Hotel. Prosecutors say Mr. Nahmad bankrolled operations for a gambling conspiracy based in New York. In addition, he was charged with fraud for selling a painting that prosecutors said was worth $50,000 for $300,000.
Mr. Brafman, who is representing Mr. Nahmad with another lawyer, Paul Shechtman, said in a statement after the hearing, “We do not believe that Mr. Nahmad has knowingly violated the law.” He also said, “We anticipate that he will be fully exonerated.”
Another well-known defendant, Molly Bloom, who gained attention in 2011 for her role in arranging high-stakes, clandestine poker games for celebrities like Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, sat quietly in the back between her lawyers.
A third headline-grabbing defendant, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, 64, leads a Russian gang, prosecutors say. He was once accused of conspiring to fix events at the 2002 Winter Olympics. He is still at large.
Injuries have struck Cage Warriors 50, who had to make some last minute changes to the card.
Former The Ultimate Fighter contestant Brandon Hempleman (8-1) and Paul McVeigh (18-7) have been added. The two will meet in a catchweight fight at 130 pounds.
Hempleman will be making his Cage Warriors debut as he enters on a five fight win streak. He’s finished three of those fights in round one. McVeigh is 3-0 for Cage Warriors. He won their bantamweight championship before vacating it to compete for BAMMA. He lost his BAMMA debut that took place in late 2011. McVeigh has not fought since.
Robert Whiteford (9-1) vs. Chris Fishgold (7-0) has been scratched after both fighters came down with injuries. Taking their place on the main card will be Nathan Beer (13-4) vs. Graham Turner (20-7). Beer comes in losing his last two and Turner is the opposite winning his previous two fights.
Cage Warriors 50 takes place December 8 from Scotland. The main card streams at MMA Junkie with the prelims on Facebook. The main card starts at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.