Bloomberg News

Full Tilt Poker’s Bitar to Be Freed on Bond, Judge Rules

July 09, 2012

Full Tilt Poker founder Raymond Bitar, who came to U.S. last week, 15 months after he was first indicted, can be freed on $2.5 million bond secured by $2 million in cash or property, a federal judge said today.

Bitar was arrested by agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York on July 2, the same day he was named in a revised indictment alleging that he and another man used funds from online players to finance Full Tilt’s operations and pay its owners in what one prosecutor described as a “Ponzi scheme.”

Prosecutors said that even after Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara unsealed the initial indictment against Bitar and 10 other people in April 2011, Bitar conspired to lie to customers about the security of the funds. Bitar had remained in Ireland working for the company, his lawyer said last week.

While a federal magistrate judge ruled July 2 that Bitar could be freed on a bond secured by $1 million in cash and property, U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer said today that he believed that increasing the amount of cash or property to $2 million would be appropriate to ensure Bitar’s return to court.

“I think the defendant can be fairly released on bail but the terms must have some vigor to them,” Engelmayer said, adding later, “he has one million reasons to return to court.”

Bitar’s bond would be secured by additional property, including a warehouse he owns in San Dimas, California, his lawyer John Baughman said.

The initial indictment included charges of bank fraud, money laundering and illegal Internet gambling.

Bitar pleaded not guilty to the charges last week.

The case is U.S. v. Bitar, 10-cr-336, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in New York at pathurtado@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mary Romano at mromano6@bloomberg.net


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