It’s still breaking news with more and more information coming out by the minute, but Full Tilt Poker “big man” Ray Bitar has turned himself into US authorities as the first step to resolving money owed to players around the world and the long list of charges against him.
What the DOJ is looking for can’t be quickly summarized, as it the complete indictment fills nearly 40 pages, but it is being coined as the biggest arrest they have made since the actions taken on “Black Friday”.
According to one of the initial breaking news report by PokerNews.com a leaked internal e-mail from Ray Bitar posted on the 2+2 forums by a reputable member had Bitar explaining “that his return to the U.S. is ’part of the process’ in completing the pending deal with PokerStars and the Department of Justice.”
A late breaking official press release from the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York summarizes and condenses the 36 page indictment nicely in just 4 pages, outlining the charges and maximum sentences Bitar and co-conspirator Nelson Burtnick; it is important to note that Burtnick is answering on charges related to his actions for PokerStars and the counts listed in the recently revised indictment indicate a co-conspiracy between the two in dodging the laws and UIGEA put in place in the USA.
Seizures of assets and civil actions also listed still indicate billions of dollars in revenues, money and property seized and assets that the DOJ is looking to be surrendered, so as good as today’s news is, there are a lot of questions yet to be answered and we are definitely still a long ways away from player resolutions.
It is also unfortunate that this news today had to cast a dark shadow over the poker history currently being made in Las Vegas, effectively stealing some of the attention and thunder while players spin their focus 180 degrees to try to put together if this means that they will finally get paid.
For now, at least tonight they can sleep well knowing that a few greedy individuals are going to face the music in a “big way”, with Bitar facing combined maximum sentences that could see him behind bars for the rest of his natural life and it appears as of right now that is exactly what the DOJ has in store for him and his accomplices.
The evidence seems very strong that those parties involved where fully aware they were using player funds that were never their’s to fund the lifestyles of family and friends, knew that there was a chance that they would get caught, directed employees to make false finacial reports to the Alderney Gambling Control Commission and blatantly circumvented legal issues regarding the operations of their businesses.
Heads are certainly going to roll, though we can still hope that under the pressure of the sentencing these two are up against, there will be some co-operation that sees the remaining parties in hiding also standing before a judge.
The coming weeks and days will certainly see more information surfacing and as always, CanadaPoker.com will be following and reporting any new developments.