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Man sentenced to 3 years in federal prison over Pokémon card

The $57,000 Charizard is now government property

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US-ENTERTAINMENT-games-POKEMON Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

A Georgia man has been sentenced to 36 months in prison — three years — after using COVID-19 relief money to purchase a rare Charizard Pokémon card. The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the sentencing in a news release issued Monday.

The man, 31-year-old Vinath Oudomsine, was awarded an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for $85,000 after claiming to own a small business that supported 10 employees. These loans were created as part of Congress’ pandemic relief plan, and intended to be used for businesses to pay workers and rent.

Once Oudomsine got the money, however, the DOJ said he used $57,789 of it to buy a Charizard card. A card matching this description — a first-edition, shadowless, and holographic Charizard card with a 9.5 gem mint rating — was sold at the PWCC marketplace for that price in late December.

U.S. district court judge Dudley H. Bowen also ordered Oudomsine to pay $10,000 on top of the $85,000 in restitution and three years in prison. He will have three years of “supervised release” after the three years in prison. Oudomsine has also agreed to turn the Charizard card over to prosecutors.

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