Ray Bitar freed after posting $2.5 million bond

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jul 10, 2012 Posted in Legal Poker News, Online Poker News | No Comments »

After surrendering last Monday to US authorities Ray Bitar thought he had lined-up the necessary assets to cover his bail (initially set at $250,000), but when the prosecution appealed the $250k bail, telling the court that Bitar was a flight risk, things got a bit dicey for the embattled Full Tilt Poker CEO. After a second hearing later in the week Bitar saw his bail escalate to $2.5 million with at least $1 million of the bond being paid in cash. However, the US government was still unhappy, and appealed the decision, asking the judge to hold Bitar without bail. And so Bitar spent the past week in jail.

Finally on Monday, the judge (Manhattan Judge Paul Engelmayer) once again ruled that Bitar could be released IF he posted the $2.5 million bail using cash and personal assets. According to reports, Bitar managed to come up with the funds (which included a warehouse he owns in San Francisco) and was released, and is expected to go to his home in California. Bitar will be monitored electronically, and it’s unclear if there will be a detail assigned to him or if he is on strict house arrest while he awaits trial.

Bitar is one of the crown jewels in the government’s case against the three largest online poker providers operating in the US that came to fruition on April 15, 2011, indicting 11 men, including Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar and PokerStars founder and CEO Isai Scheinberg. Judge Paul Engelmayer approved a bail package negotiated by federal prosecutors and Bitar’s legal team, saying, “I will approve the bail package counsel has proposed,” adding that, “Mr. Bitar is facing very serious charges, charges that have grown over time.” According to the Forbes article cited above.

One of the charges Judge Engelmayer speaks of is the superseding indictment that Bitar may have been blindsided with after he turned himself over to authorities. It’s unclear if Bitar knew of this added charge and if he would have turned himself in knowing this charge would be leveled his way –the superseding indictment alleges Bitar ran Full Tilt poker as a Ponzi scheme in the aftermath of Black Friday; defrauding his customers and lying about the safety of their funds.

In several statements giving last week Bitar stated that his surrender was in an effort to move forward with a potential deal that would see PokerStars purchase Full Tilt poker and all of its debts, which would mean the repayment of between #300 million and $350 million owed to players around the world.

While the poker world waits for the deal to be announced, they are also waiting to see if more indictments are handed out now that Bitar is in custody and likely cooperating 100% with the investigation. We’ll keep you posted as this story continues to unfold.

 

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