Prosecution Fears Flight Risk While Bitar Pays $2.4 Million Bail

Poker Players | estimated reading time
2012. July 10.
<strong>Ray Bitar</strong> paid the $2.4 million bail and will be transferred to house arrest within 48 hours. Meanwhile, <strong>Howard Lederer</strong> asks for drop of charges.
Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar was arrested on 2 July at John F. Kennedy International, New York, where he arrived from Dublin with the intention to turn himself over to the authorities. It did not go as he planned, however; contrary to his previous deal with the FBI, he was faced with additional charges in the new indictment.

The new charges concern the operations of Full Tilt Poker following Black Friday, based on documents published at the time of the arrest. The FBI claims that Bitar, aware of the financial deficit in the budget of the room, “continued to encourage players outside the United States to make new deposits,” saying their money would be safe. FTP, in fact, at this time “was entirely dependent on new player deposits to meet the backlog of player withdrawal requests and cover the company’s operating expenses,” claims the indictment.

Ray Bitar Arrested

With the new charges, the possible sentence of a couple of years Bitar could face grew to decades; According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brow, his maximum prison sentence is 145 years, if found guilty of all charges – PokerFuse.com reports.

Bitar also expected to pay the bail immediately after giving himself up so that he could defend himself released. This did not turn out as planned for him, either: with the new charges and the more serious potential sentence that follows, his being a flight risk has increased. As a result, prosecution asked the court to deny bail, which it eventually ruled to be $2.4 million. Bitar’s lawyers presented the amount on the next hearing of 6 July, but the prosecution appealed.

They argued that Bitar insisted on remaining CEO of FTP in order to be able to hide evidence of the room working as a Ponzi-scheme, while in fact they used new deposits post-Black Friday to cover earlier withdrawals and operation costs. Moreover, Bitar withdrew over $2 million as salary between 15 April, 2011 and 2 July, 2012 and prosecution also called Judge Engelmayer’s attention to the fact that Bitar had not come to the US previously in order to avoid impeachment and his increased potential prison time means a higher risk of flight. This is further supported by the fact that he still has considerable resources on offshore accounts, in addition to trying to access $24 million earlier this year on an account previously not seized by the US authorities.

The $2.4 million bail was eventually granted by the court and, upon paying it, Bitar is reported to be placed under house arrest in his California home within 48 hours. His location will be checked upon by using and electronic tracer device.

Other news that has recently surfaced in connection with the FTP case is that Howard Lederer filed an official motion to dismiss the civil charges against him. Lederer claim there is no evidence that he had been involved in a fraud of any kind or had even been knowledgeable of anything like that. In addition, he argues that the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) cannot be applied to online poker according to the new ruling of the US Department of Justice; therefore FTP did not provide illegal services in the USA.

Recently, Rafe Furst has issued a similar motion and Chris Ferguson is expected to join soon.

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