It was recently announced that another $2.6 million will soon be doled out to roughly 1,180 former U.S. Full Tilt players in the ongoing remission process, which will bring player reimbursement to 94% completion.
While the entire undertaking of making U.S. players whole continues to inch near an eventual conclusion, some may be curious as to what the top executives of the old Full Tilt Poker regime are up to nowadays. You know, those guys who in 2011 were accused by U.S. Attorney Preetinder “Preet” Bharara of running a “global Ponzi scheme.” Here’s what we know regarding the whereabouts of the four main board members:
Ray escaped a lengthy prison sentence by claiming to be in ill health and in dire need of a heart transplant. He coughed up $40 million in fines and pled guilty to a couple charges, but remained a free man based on medical reports indicating that his days on Earth were perhaps numbered if a new ticker was not received.
An update provided by poker pro Allen Cunningham in October 2014 revealed that Bitar was “unlikely to live more than a couple years and is nearly penniless.” Twelve months later, Bitar was spotted at the altar embarking on a new life as a married man, considerably thinner and looking much healthier than his days as Full Tilt CEO. A lavish wedding reception at a posh Los Angeles banquet room called into question both his purported health issues and lack of funds.
It is unknown if Bitar received the heart transplant that he so desperately needed. But photos taken late last year show a man who looks to be far from both dying and penniless.
There have been several sightings of The Professor since the shutdown of Full Tilt. There were a few trips to the poker room at Bellagio in 2012 where he apparently played in some cash games, his 50th birthday party in 2013, and an appearance at Daniel Negreanu’s Poker Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2014.
Of course, Lederer was captured on film in “The Lederer Files” in 2012, a PokerNews exclusive during which the former Full Tilt honcho tried to explain how and why things went wrong at the poker room. Lederer has yet to enter live tournament action, but I bet that he will do so at some future date.
Of the four top Full Tilt execs, Ferguson has been the quietest. Spotted at London’s Heathrow Airport at the end of 2011, that’s the lone “Jesus” sighting to date. Chris has issued no statements or apologies over what happened and many who look at the situation from a legal perspective believe remaining mum was and is Ferguson’s best bet.
There was speculation a couple years ago that Chris was itching to return to action. Whether that itch has been scratched via online play is anybody’s guess. A favorite of fans and perhaps the most well-liked and respected player of the four top ex-board members, odds are that we haven’t seen the last of Ferguson at WSOP events.
Taking a completely different approach than his three colleagues, Furst wrote an open letter to the poker community after being named as a defendant in the civil proceedings in 2011. Admitting to having “nothing to hide,” Furst reminded naysayers that “not everything you read is true.” Rafe had the guts to include his Twitter handle in the letter and invited players to respond.
Seen as the least culpable among the four top FTP board members, Furst, like the others, admitted guilt, paid his fine, and moved on. And moving on for him meant co-founding Crowdfunder.com in 2012, a company that assists investors and startups. Furst’s role is Chief Investment Officer and he proudly displays his status as a former World Series of Poker Champion on his website.