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U.S. DOJ Files Forfeiture Charges Against Full Tilt Figureheads

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil complaint seeking more than $135 million in damages from four men accused of funding assets from with unlawful proceeds acquired from Full Tilt Poker.

Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Ray Bitar and Rafe Furst are all having assets of theirs targeted including houses and automobiles purchased with “illegal proceeds”.

The complaint is seeking forfeitures of the following amounts from each of the men:

  • Howard Lederer – $42.5 million
  • Chris Ferguson – $42 million
  • Ray Bitar – $40.8 million
  • Rafe Furst – $11.7 million

In the complaint, detailed accounts are given of how Howard Lederer and Ray Bitar used funds associated with criminal conduct to acquire personal assets. Lederer allegedly spent more than $10 million to commission the construction of his Las Vegas home and also used illegal funds to purchase at least five high-priced automobiles including a 2008 Maserati GranTurismo and a 1965 Shelby Cobra. Page 102 of the DOJ complaint indicates that one of Lederer’s vehicles, a 2012 Audi A8 L Quattro, was purchased for $156,000 on June 30, 2011, nearly three months after Black Friday.

Bitar was listed as having used illegally acquired funds to purchase two homes in Glendora, California.

The DOJ complaint also added eight more “Claims for Relief” to the four listed in the original Black Friday indictment. Among the new claims include various laundering and conspiracy charges relating to fraud against Full Tilt players.

The amended complaint also invoked the 1952 Travel Act to support the forfeiture request. That law forbids the use of interstate and foreign transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises. This provides the DOJ with a third legal statute in addition to the Wire Act and Illegal Gambling Business Act with which to support their forfeiture requests.

Lederer’s $10 million dream home allegedly includes a lit up Full Tilt logo in a pool on the property.

If true, the numbers in the DOJ complaint indicate that Lederer, Ferguson and Bitar each made approximately $8 million per year on average in a five year span from Full Tilt Poker.


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