Howard Lederer’s settlement with U.S. DoJ prosecutors that closes the book on his misdeeds at Full Tilt Poker without him admitting any wrongdoing has been met with an overwhelming consensus that “The Professor” got off easy.
Required to forfeit his vintage Shelby Cobra, the undetermined funds from a couple bank accounts, another couple of his lesser properties, and some $1.25 million in cash, Lederer will be giving up nowhere near the $42 million that government attorneys sought in the second amended complaint. Some reports have speculated that the overall assets forfeited will be around $2.5 million, while others peg the total closer to the $10 million mark.
Whatever the actual amount turns out to be within that range, most players and posters on online poker forums such as 2 + 2 are of the mind that it’s not enough. Lederer still gets to keep a number of automobiles and properties valued in the millions, one of which was used for a huge party celebrating the settlement and the conclusion of legal proceedings against the former Full Tilt board member, it was reported by DiamondFlush.
In the meantime, while the DoJ is cutting deals with Lederer, Rafe Furst and perhaps Chris Ferguson in the not-too-distant future, U.S. players have yet to be reimbursed their Full Tilt account balances. On top of not yet being paid, there remains the question of whether the DoJ will pay back 100% of those account balances. It kind of makes one believe that the “Justice” part of the DoJ is somewhat of a misnomer.
In the legal industry, the vast majority of lawsuits are settled without ever going to trial. Deals and bargains are made everyday to keep things flowing, as it would be impossible and would unduly burden an already overworked system if every case went before a jury. That’s just the way the legal system operates and will remain so. However, it certainly doesn’t sit right with many people when serious allegations of improper business dealings such as those at Full Tilt are allowed to settle in such a way that the punishment can best be described as a slap on the wrist.
I’m not exactly sure what the appropriate settlement or punishment for Lederer should be. Perhaps when U.S. players are finally repaid and online poker is available to Americans once again, the poker community will be more forgiving toward what went down at Full Tilt Poker. But as many players and poker forum posters will tell you, the sweet deal that Lederer got from the DoJ seems a far cry from “Justice.”