Former Full Tilt Poker CEO, Ray Bitar, has reached a plea deal in his case with prosecutors from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Loretta Preska has set an official date, April 19th, for the plea hearing and a final decision.
According to Bitar’s legal team, Bitar has pleaded guilty to a number of charges and faces penalties of nearly $40 million in asset forfeiture and possible prison time. Originally, Bitar was facing nine felony charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, and operating an illegal gambling business. The former FTP boss was facing nearly 145 years in prison and major financial penalties.
However, Ray Bitar has been recently diagnosed with a heart condition that will require a transplant surgery. According to medical experts, Bitar would have a 50% probability of survival over the next 6 months without a heart transplant. He is expected to undergo surgery in California in the near future.
The medical condition has become a pertinent aspect of the case and the cited likely outcome reflects this situation. Judge Preska has agreed to allow Bitar to attend the hearing through a video conference from California. Furthermore, federal prosecutors have agreed to accept any decision that excludes prison time. According to sources, a sentence with any prison time would essentially prevent a heart transplant for Bitar. Given this situation, the final decision will most likely exclude any penalty of incarceration.
Nevertheless, Judge Preska will hand down the ultimate decision within the next two weeks and nothing is guaranteed at this point. Although his condition may prevent prison time, Bitar will face some stiff penalties during his battle with heart failure.