Ray Bitar, the chief executive officer of Full Tilt Poker and one of 11 men indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on Black Friday, surrendered to U.S. authorities on Monday.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York confirmed to PokerNews that Bitar gave himself up to the FBI in New York. Bitar is facing five charges for his role at Full Tilt Poker, including conspiracy to violate the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), operation of illegal gambling business, and money laundering conspiracy.
Monday's news initially broke on the TwoPlusTwo forums, where a reputable member leaked an internal email allegedly sent by Bitar to staffers in Ireland. In the email, Bitar explains that his return to the U.S. is "part of the process" in completing the pending deal with PokerStars and the Department of Justice.
"We have all worked hard over the last 15 months to preserve Full Tilt’s assets and potential in order to provide for the repayment of all players, and that continues to be our top priority," Bitar writes. "It is as important as ever that we all do everything possible to make that happen and, hopefully our deal with Poker Stars will very soon make our goal a reality."
UPDATE: PokerNews has received an updated indictment signed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara that details Bitar's efforts to cover up Full Tilt Poker's liquidity problems after the original indictment was released on April 15, 2011.
UPDATE July 2 15:30 PDT: The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York issued a press release on Ray Bitar's arrest. According to the release, Bitar was arrested Monday morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“With today’s arrest and the new charges brought against him, Raymond Bitar will now be held criminally responsible for the alleged multi-million fraud he perpetrated on his U.S. customers. The indictment alleges how Bitar bluffed his player-customers and fixed the game against them as part of an international Ponzi scheme that left players empty-handed," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
According to the superseding indictment that was unsealed on Monday, Bitar is charged with nine counts and faces a maximum of 145 years in prison.
“Bitar and Full Tilt Poker persisted in soliciting U.S. gamblers long after such conduct was outlawed. As alleged, Bitar has already been charged with defrauding banks to conceal the illegal gambling. Now he stands accused of defrauding Full Tilt’s customers by concealing its cash-poor condition and paying off early creditors with deposits from later customers. The on-line casino become an Internet Ponzi scheme," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk.
Nelson Burtnick, also named in the superseding indictment, faces eight counts.
Luck is for the unprepared
Sounds like we may getting paid...finally!
Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?
I really hope so. I am still owed about 27k.
I'm "owed" a modest $3 grand or so. Just assumed I'd never see it.
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Brandon, I gave up a long time ago...just dont want to get my hopes up. lol
If you are in a non extradition country why the HELL would you ever come back here to turn yourself in.?
I mean I know the guy is a crook and ripped off many people...but he faces certian prison time, 10 years or more MINIMUM.....
Wow! And getting and or finding what money is left to pay out is going to end up being 10 cents on the dollar or less if that to guys that are owed money....
I do not see the Feds allowing any seized assetts going to guys who were playing poker online that they deem illegal, getting a dime back..and then you are going to have the IRS auditing you for 3 years back to track payments to you in the form of wire transfers.....and not turning that income is a felony my friends..tread lightly....
Regards, Tony George- Big 12 Expert, 21 Year Veteran Capper, Pregame Pro Handicapper - "I hate to lose, more than I Love to Win"
As alleged, Bitar has already been charged with defrauding banks to conceal the illegal gambling.
......could they do the same with offshore books?....they use devious means to conceal money being deposited by CC from US customers.....ie. my bank has called before and offshoere told me to tell them the charge was for phone cards so th ebank would approve it, if I said it was for gambling site of course they would not.....just wondering
It is a slippery slope.....lets keep it at that. Civil liberty in jeapordy is my best description...so many other pressing issues they could spend time on.
Tony, its part of the process to get the deal with PokerStars completely, so all of us can get paid! I got third in a miniFTOPS right before these cocksuckers went bust. If we get paid, itll be like finding money in the street!