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Full Tilt Payment Processor Cops Guilty Plea

Nelson Burtnick, a former Full Tilt Poker payment processor, has pled guilty in a New York federal court to his role in deceiving banks into handling financial transactions from the online poker site in order to get around U.S. online gambling laws.

The 41-year-old Burtnick explained to U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein that Full Tilt, PokerStars and other off-shore online poker sites “had to do this type of deception to enable U.S. poker players to load their accounts,” according to news wires. “I know that what I did was wrong.”

Burtnick explained that banks would not have processed the transactions between players and poker sites due to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006. Burtnick did also process payments for PokerStars, who recently acquired the assets of Full Tilt and are set to relaunch the dormant site by Nov. 6.

Burtnick faces up 15 years in the slammer, but due to his recent cooperation with prosecutors, his sentence is expected to be weighted toward leniency. He will be required to pay restitution, forfeit an undisclosed amount of funds, and is barred from making any further claims of possible unpaid compensation from either Full Tilt or PokerStars. A Canadian national, Burtnick didn’t surrender to authorities until July of this year, shortly after company CEO Ray Bitar–orchestrator of Full Tilt’s alleged “global Ponzi scheme”–boarded a plane from Dublin to New York and turned himself in as well.

Bitar has pled not guilty and currently is confined to his home in Glendora, California, with his whereabouts known by federal authorities at all times via electronic home-monitoring. Of 11 individuals indicted in the Black Friday charges, Burtnick joins Bradley Franzen, Ira Rubin, Ryan Lang, John Campos, Brent Beckley and Chad Elie as those who have admitted guilt and copped pleas.

PokerStars’ executives Paul Tate and Isai Scheinberg and Scott Tom of Absolute Poker are the only individuals charged who have yet to be arrested and answer to the allegations. It is believed that the settlement between PokerStars and the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) in which the world’s largest poker site acquired Full Tilt will be looked upon favorably in Scheinberg’s case if and when he does appear before a judge on the matter.

In addition to the aforementioned criminal charges, Full Tilt’s Bitar, Chris Ferguson, Rafe Furst and Howard Lederer are facing a slew of civil charges that have recently been amended in a second complaint. The latest allegations by DoJ prosecutors attempt to seize the personal assets of the former Full Tilt executives in the aggregate sum of over $100 million dollars.

After not speaking publicly about the allegations since the original Black Friday indictment on April 15, 2011, Lederer recently agreed to end his silence and be interviewed to tell his side of the story in the entire Full Tilt fiasco. The roughly 7-hour interview is now being widely circulated in segments online as “The Lederer Files.” Furst sent an open letter to the poker community shortly after the allegations surfaced in 2011 and Bitar spoke publicly following his surrender and arrest in July. Ferguson has yet to explain his role in the mismanagement of Full Tilt.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.