Full Tilt payment processor Nelson Burtnick surrenders

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Aug 04, 2012 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

While the poker world was busy piecing together the in’s and the out’s of the announced PokerStars/Full Tilt Poker/DOJ deal on Tuesday there were a few other Black Friday headlines that were pushed to the back pages thanks to the groundbreaking headlines. One of those stories was the surrender of a second Full Tilt Poker executive in the past few weeks, as Nelson Burtnick followed CEO Ray Bitar’s lead and surrendered to US officials.

Burtnick was relatively unknown in the poker world prior to the Black Friday indictments, working behind the scenes as the head of Full Tilt Poker’s payment processing department, and as such an instrumental figure in the US Department of Justice’s investigation that resulted in 11 men indicted on April 15, 2011, ostensibly known as Black Friday.

Burtnick flew into Newark Airport in New Jersey on Tuesday and was immediately taken into custody by US authorities; he was later released after posting a $500,000 bond and surrendering his passport; as part of his release, Burtnick is limited to travel in parts of New Jersey and New York.

Burtnick’s surrender was the latest of the 11 indicted individuals from Black Friday, and with Bitar and Burtnick now in custody only Absolute Poker founder Scott Tom, and two PokerStars executives, founder Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate, are still at large.

Four of the Black Friday defendants have already been sentenced, with payment processor Ira Rubin receiving the stiffest sentence of at least 40 months behind bars. Absolute Poker payment processor chief Brent Beckley received a 14-month sentence, while bankers John Campos and Chad Elie received relative slaps on the wrist. At this juncture only Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnick have pleaded not guilty, but that may change in the future, as it’s likely they will eventually cut a deal for a reduced sentence.

Burtnick’s surrender happened during the peak moments of the “Super Tuesday” deal being announced and was basically overlooked as poker players focused on the specifics of the deal, most importantly when they would see the return of the $330 million that has been locked-up on Full Tilt Poker for over a year now.

Burtnick faces a total of eight counts (some added during the superseding indictment that was unsealed when Ray Bitar surrendered) including charges from his time working at PokerStars. According to the US DOJ, Burtnick worked with Bitar to deceive US financial institutions by miscoding credit card transactions and setting up phantom corporations, as well as corrupting Sun First Bank in Utah.


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