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Negreanu: 'Justice' If Howard Lederer Goes To Jail

Former Full Tilt Owner Has Until Nov. 16 To File Motion To Dismiss Civil Case


Lederer playing poker at Bellagio last week. Photo from @RealCrazyMike Twitter account

Daniel Negreanu’s vitriol directed at former Full Tilt Poker owner Howard Lederer was back in action Sunday morning. Negreanu expressed sentiment that has been at times visible in cyberspace since the Department of Justice called Full Tilt a “global Ponzi scheme” last year.

Right after citing a Pokerfuse article that highlighted an apparent inconsistency in Lederer’s recent interview statements, Negreanu remarked publicly to his 202,000 followers:

While Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Rafe Furst face civil litigation from the government, Ray Bitar, the former CEO of the firm, faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted of the charges against him. The first three men are accused of being involved with the fraud and could forfeit millions to the DoJ, but they aren’t looking at any possible jail time for their alleged roles.

In September 2011, Card Player asked Dr. Henry Pontell, a white-collar crime expert at the University of California, Irvine, about accused Ponzi schemers not facing criminal charges.

“I’ve never heard of a ‘non-criminal Ponzi scheme’ before, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t possibly exist,” Pontell said. “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.”

The complaint implicating Lederer was amended last month, as the government detailed where it says player money went. Prosecutors also tacked on more accusations of unlawful activity perpetrated by Lederer. He could lose his multimillion-dollar Las Vegas mansion, one of a handful of his properties purchased with alleged-fraud money.

Altogether, Lederer is potentially on the hook for about $42.5 million worth of assets that the feds say are “traceable” to illegal activities in running Full Tilt.

According to a court document, attorneys for Lederer, Ferguson and Furst plan to seek dismissal of the government’s most recent amended complaint against them. The defendants have until Nov. 16, 2012 to file the motion. Prosecutors have until Dec. 21 to reply, and then the defendants have a deadline of Jan. 11, 2013 to respond.

Negreanu’s Tweet sparked more than 40 Retweets and garnered a handful of responses, one of which was from poker pro Todd Terry, who is part of a class-action lawsuit filed this spring.

Card Player followed up with Terry, a former criminal defense attorney in New York City.

“It’s apparent that the [United States Attorneys’ Office] has made a decision, for whatever reason, not to indict Howard,” Terry said. “He could have been indicted on Black Friday and when they filed the amended civil complaint. It’s possible that his hubris filled [public relations] campaign will cause them to change their minds.”

“It’s also possible that one day Ray will start cooperating and give the feds evidence against him that they can’t ignore,” Terry added.

Despite the civil case and continued outcry from the poker community, Lederer returned to the poker tables this past week. He has been playing high-stakes poker with some of the players that the company once used to market and promote its brand.

Lederer has not been found responsible in a court of law for Full Tilt’s insolvency or failure to repay players after it was shutdown in American cyberspace on Black Friday.

While players outside the U.S. will be reunited with their money thanks to a bailout from PokerStars, American victims are still waiting to hear from the DoJ on how they can ask for compensation. The DoJ did not return Card Player’s request for an update this week.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus