Former Full Tilt CEO Raymond Bitar, who avoided a lengthy prison sentence on fraud and other charges due to failing health that included the need for a heart transplant, got married in October.
Bitar, 43, tied the knot with Jacquelyn Lucas on October 25, 2015 in Glendora, California. Lucas is originally from Tampa, Florida and graduated with a degree in finance from the University of South Florida in 2005, according to her Facebook page.
Bitar was one of 11 individuals charged in the Black Friday online poker crackdown orchestrated by the Department of Justice in 2011 that targeted PokerStars, Full Tilt, UltimateBet and Absolute Poker. He faced nine felony counts and a possible prison stint of up to 35 years.
The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, said at the time that Full Tilt was running a Ponzi scheme, accepting deposits from players and using the money to cover expenses and “to pay him [Bitar] and other owners millions of dollars.” Player funds were not kept in segregated accounts, despite Bitar directing FTP employees to tell players that they were.
Have a Heart
In 2013, Bitar pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). He agreed to forfeit $40 million and managed to stay out of prison due to a serious heart condition. At his sentencing, U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska said that time in prison for the ailing ex-CEO would be “tantamount to a death sentence.”
Rumors circulated over the legitimacy of the heart condition, with online poker forums rife with comments from posters speculating that Bitar somehow faked his ailment in order to remain a free man. At the time, anger from the poker community toward the Full Tilt board of directors that included Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson remained high, as the remission process had not yet begun.
Since then, rest-of-world players and 92% of U.S. Full Tilt claimants have been paid, thanks to the 2012 bailout of Full Tilt by PokerStars.
In October 2014, poker pro Allen Cunningham did his best to put the phony heart ailment rumors to rest, posting on 2 + 2 that “according to my sources, Ray Bitar is unlikely to live more than a couple years and is nearly penniless.” Fifteen months have passed since Cunningham made that statement.
It is not known whether or not Bitar has received the heart transplant that he so desperately needed. But the wedding snapshots posted on Facebook by his lovely new bride show Bitar to be looking quite the picture of health. He has obviously lost a considerable amount of weight since those Full Tilt days when, most would agree, he appeared to be somewhat on the heavy side.
Forgiven and Forgotten?
The Black Friday scandal is just a few months short of its five-year anniversary. The vast majority of Full Tilt players have been paid, which may have caused the anger and criticism previously directed at Bitar and his cohorts to subside.
Bitar did extend an apology to those he harmed. “I regret my actions,” he stated in 2013. “I know they were wrong and illegal. I am very sorry. I’m very sorry for the problems that Full Tilt Poker got into. It never should have happened.”