Poker Coverage: Poker Tournaments Casino News Sports Betting Poker Strategy
Wsopbanner

Unclear if Lederer, Ferguson, Furst Will Face Criminal Charges in Alleged Ponzi Scheme

Investigation into Full Tilt Poker and Its Board Still Ongoing

Print-icon
 

A week after Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called Full Tilt Poker a “global Ponzi Scheme,” amending charges of fraud against its players to the civil complaint, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and Rafe Furst are not facing any criminal charges. The company’s CEO Ray Bitar faces a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison for alleged crimes listed in April’s unsealed indictment

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York said that they cannot confirm or deny any potential criminal charges against Lederer, Ferguson, or Furst, but said the investigation is ongoing.

Jeff Ifrah, attorney for Bitar, told Card Player that anything is possible, but that he hopes the charges in the amendment won’t become criminal. He said he isn’t sure what the motivation was behind calling the site a “Ponzi Scheme,” but that it could reflect the Department of Justice’s frustration with the company’s slow progress to find a buyer.

While the merits of the term Ponzi to describe Full Tilt are currently hotly contested by attorneys associated with the company, such allegations are typically also associated with criminal charges. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Lederer, Ferguson, or Furst will face possible jail time.

“I’ve never heard of a ‘non-criminal Ponzi scheme’ before, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t possibly exist,” Dr. Henry Pontell, a white-collar crime expert and professor at University of California, Irvine, told Card Player. “Civil charges may be filed where there’s not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Ponzi is a descriptive and pejorative term, but it’s really about a specific charge for fraud (criminal or civil).”

Pontell also pointed out that the DOJ could bring lesser charges against the defendants, ones that wouldn’t necessarily be called criminal.

Ray BitarBitar, the only board member facing both forfeiture of assets and possible jail time, is currently overseas trying to coordinate an investment in the company that would release what is owed to players, according to Ifrah. He also said that his client doesn’t want any further criminal charges to fall upon Full Tilt’s board of directors. If everything remains static, “[Bitar] would be the only person punished criminally in the company.”

According to Ifrah, the anonymous potential investor in Full Tilt will meet with the DOJ next week. Ifrah said that he is “encouraging [the investor] to come out of the closet,” but “I’m not looking to scare anybody away.”

Authorities claim that Full Tilt’s Bitar, Lederer, Ferguson, and Furst defrauded players “by misrepresenting that their funds on deposit in online gambling accounts were safe, secure, and available for withdrawal at any time.” Furthermore, the company used the funds to pay board members and other owners more than $440 million in corporate dividends over the past four years.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus

 
 
 
 

Comments

RuptureAchilies
10 years ago

Sounds like a bunch of nonsense. These sleaze balls improperly paid themselves "dividends" with players assets, while telling their customers that all players funds are safe. Guess I missed the part where they mentioned the funds were safely in their pockets.

 
Reply
 

SighNotAgain
10 years ago

Why would anyone buy Filt Tilt it would be like buying Enron after its crash. The only thing of value Full Tilt has is its software and lets face it that can gotten cheaply by other means.

 
Reply
 

clunker
10 years ago

Been away for awhile but I see your still posting nonsensical blatter bmpek. If any investor was stupid enough to buy FTP brand name the last thing they are going to do is shell out 440 million $'S to the defrauded players. If anything they take the few cents that haven't been stolen to use to restart the Ponzi scheme. And after reading some of the posts on other articles here that blame everyone but the thieves I would assume the same fish would swim right back into the net.

 
Reply
 

LisaJax
10 years ago

clunker,
It is indeed amazing that the FTP "victims" are so willing to bend over and give their money AGAIN to the online poker gang of thieves.
It looks like Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke ran away in just the nick of time, but how much did they siphon off of UltimateBet on their way out? Didn't Annie often say that Howard Lederer taught her well?

 
Reply
 

RuptureAchilies
10 years ago

I agree. Hellmuth and Duke both, in the least, had to be suspicious that UB was fraudulently misappropriating player funds. Sucks for Sebok that hid dumb ass didn't make the same conclusion. But really any person that played on UB after the first scandal kind of deserve to lose their money.

 
Reply
 

WPS22
10 years ago

Yeah online poker players have it so bad. They should play in Vegas where every pot in any game under 5/10 gets raked 5-10% w/ basically no compensation to the players. Not to mention having to tip every time you win a pot. Or the tourneys that have 18% rake, then another 5% gets taken out for the dealers, then if you actually cash you have to tip more.

Unless you are playing for big money, there is no hope of making a living playing live poker.

 
Reply
 

texasroadgambler
10 years ago

With activities such as UB and FTP in full display, what chance do you think that online poker has to become legalized?

 
 

LisaJax
10 years ago

WPS22, why don't you try your hand at making an honest liviing and give up on your poker pipe-dream. (And quit your punk ass threatening of good old boys like bmpek.) :-) Thank you.

 
 

DropDead_Quads4Mike
10 years ago

I understand innocent until proven guilty. Just wondering if any of the casinos have taken action against any of the 4 (Bitar, Furst, Lederer and Ferguson) like not allowing them to play in their card rooms as rusult of the pending legal action.

 
Reply
 

capbckwrds
10 years ago

With all the money they have stashed away and the possibility of harassment by random victims of Full Tilt and paparazzi and reporters sprouting like mushrooms, why would they want to show their faces?

 
Reply
 

capbckwrds
10 years ago

Tex

The government will allow it to be legalized when and only when they can crunch the numbers and see that it will be a decent source of income for the Treasury having taken into account the costs of the bureaucracy needed to regulate it.

If the Patie Group sees redeemability in the Full Tilt brand despite all the drama and is confident in future profits that would make their purchase worthwhile, Uncle Sam can figure out a way to get his cut without killing the golden goose.

 
Reply
 

WPS22
10 years ago

Lisa- I have a career in the US Military. I have never claimed to be or said I wanted to be a pro poker player. I don't know where you got this from. I just hate people like you and bmpek because you come on here to be negative about things you know nothing about.

You guys are old bitter Vegas losers, you are a dime a dozen. Go to any casino in Vegas and you will see about 10 of you. You are angry because you live in the middle of the desert in a terrible place.

I was not threatening anyone. I merely offered bmpek a chance to be a real life tough guy instead of an internet one. I am a woman who weighs 115 lbs so I really don't think he'd be scared of me. I would literally pay to see what this loser looks like. You too actually Lisa.

 
Reply