Former Full Tilt CEO Ordered to Forfeit Millions

Posted on: April 17, 2013, 06:43h. 

Last updated on: April 17, 2013, 03:50h.

Former Full Tilt Poker boss Ray Bitar has pled guilty two years after the Black Friday indictments were filed against the online operator, as well as against PokerStars and Absolute Poker. As a result, Bitar has been sentenced to time served.

As such, Bitar will serve no further jail time owing to his current heart condition which, as stated by his attorney John F. Baughman, gives him only a 50 percent chance of surviving to see 2014, unless he is able to receive a heart transplant.

No Jail Time

Bitar pled guilty to charges of wire fraud and violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, but U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska described his physical state as the “driving factor” behind the lack of further jail time, admitting that the federal prison system was unable to handle  Bitar’s medical needs. Essentially, a jail sentence would have been as good as a death sentence to Bitar, who originally faced up to 35 years in prison.

Forfeiture of All Full Tilt Profits

The former CEO was also ordered to forfeit $40 million in cash, property and other assets which were purchased with proceeds from Full Tilt Poker’s activities, which was calculated to be near Bitar’s total earnings during his time running the show.

Appearing in Manhattan federal court via video link from his medical treatment facility in California, Bitar told Preska that he regretted his actions and was “sorry for the problems that Full Tilt Poker got into”, adding that “it never should have happened”.

Black Friday Fallout

During the months leading up to Black Friday, the decision-makers of Full Tilt Poker continued crediting player accounts with deposits, as well as paying board members $10 million each month, despite the inability to obtain those funds from U.S. financial institutions as the authorities had cut off online poker payment processing streams.

As a result, Full Tilt Poker’s books saw a nine-figure shortfall, which eventually led to the downfall of the operator shortly after the indictments of Black Friday. However, as part of a settlement of its own Black Friday civil charges, the company was acquired by PokerStars, who agreed to provide funding to payout to its former players.

Following Bitar’s sentencing, just three of the 11 individuals indicted on Black Friday are yet to strike deals with U.S. prosecutors. These include founder of PokerStars, Isai Scheinberg, and the firm’s former payments director Paul Tate, as well as Scott Tom, co-founder of Ultimate Bet.

As is usually the case with legal affairs, the indictments of Black Friday have been long and drawn out. However, as sentencing continues, it appears those behind the illegal activities are slowly but surely receiving their just desserts.