Nellie Andreeva

After pleading guilty to running an illegal gambling operation on Friday, Ray Donovan executive producer Bryan Zuriff is taking a voluntary leave of absence from the Showtime series. Zuriff faces up to five years in prison and has agreed to forfeit $500,000 as part of his plea deal, but insiders indicate that by pleading first from the 34 people charged in the operation, he is expected to get a more lenient sentence. “I’m incredibly grateful to have been a part of the extraordinary Ray Donovan family,” Zuriff said in a statement. “Out of respect for my colleagues at the network and everyone involved with the show I’m voluntarily taking a leave of absence so that the resolution of my personal legal matters won’t distract from the audience’s great response to the program. I appreciate all the support I’ve received and look forward to everyone’s continued success.” In a statement, Showtime’s said, “We respect and appreciate Bryan Zuriff’s decision.” Zuriff has been a key driver behind Ray Donovan, which features themes and stories that resemble some of the things Zuriff was indicted for. He is credited with bringing the project to producer Mark Gordon and championing it. Zuriff has been a hands-on executive producer, a regular presence on the set. He was to go back on the show, which was just renewed for a second season following a very strong debut.

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.

For all of Deadline's headlines, follow us @Deadline on Twitter.