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New Charges Filed Against Full Tilt Defendants

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a Second Amended Civil Complaint against the Full Tilt defendants in the Black Friday case to include charges that make the alleged criminal acts of Howard Lederer and the other Full Tilt board members subject to forfeiture proceedings.

The DoJ has invoked the Travel Act in their amended pleadings that forbids the use of “interstate and foreign travel of transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises.” The additional statute gives prosecutors another federal law on which to rely that is separate from the violations faced by defendants Lederer, Rafe Furst, Chris Ferguson and Ray Bitar pertaining to the Wire Act and Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA).

The amended complaint was filed Sept. 10 and spells out in no uncertain terms the financial transactions of Lederer from late 2006 until 2011 that shows “The Professor” deposited more than $44 million into various bank accounts from funds received unlawfully in dividend payments from the alleged “Illegal enterprise” of Full Tilt Poker. Lederer spent more than $10.5 million for two houses–a main home and guest house–and also funded retirement accounts, paid his mortgage and property taxes, and bought several extravagant automobiles, such as a 2008 Maserati Gran Tourismo and a classic 1965 Shelby Cobra. Prosecutors contend that his transactions were all financed from ill-gotten gains and should be forfeited in the amount of $42.5 million.

The government is also seeking $40.8 million from Bitar, who bought two houses in California. Although expenditures were not listed for Ferguson and Furst, the DoJ is attempting to seize $42 million and $11.7 million from each, respectively. The DoJ asserts that $444 million went to 23 Full Tilt shareholders and that “there is probable cause to believe that the Defendant Properties constitute, or are traceable to, property used in illegal gambling businesses” as spelled out in the Travel Act.

Lawyers for the Full Tilt board members have asked the judge to consider the relevance of Judge Weinstein’s recent ruling in the DiCristina case that found poker to be predominantly based on skill and not gambling under the current IGBA definition. Should Judge Sand find the “poker as skill” argument to be applicable in the Black Friday case, the defendants may see some of the IGBA-related charges tossed. However, many legal scholars are of the opinion that the DiCristina ruling is not binding in the April 15, 2011 case against Lederer and his cohorts.




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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.