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Former CEO of Full Tilt Poker Avoids Prison Time Due to Poor Health
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On Monday, Raymond Bitar, the former CEO of Full Tilt Poker, pleaded guilty to violating anti-Internet gambling laws while succeeding to avoid prison time on the basis of his failing health.

At the federal court hearing in Manhattan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown said that Bitar was suffering from “severe heart failure.” Bitar was ordered to forfeit $40 million and was also sentenced to time served. Bitar is among about 11 persons including the owners of two other online poker companies, who were charged by federal prosecutors for illegal internet gambling.

Bitar was not present physically at the hearing, but appeared through video conferencing from a California courtroom. He said on video, “I regret my actions, I know they were wrong and illegal.” He pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. He had been charged on nine counts including those of operating an illegal gambling business, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.


He admitted to lying to customers and misleading them about the safety of their money.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska took into count Bitar’s health situation and sentenced him with lenience. Though, under ordinary circumstances, Bitar could have faced up to 35 years in prison the court showed him leniency considering that his health conditions are so severe that he has to wear a defibrillator under his clothes. Prosecutors agreed not to oppose a sentence that was without prison time.

Three companies charged by prosecutors in 2011, including Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and PokerStars were accused of misleading banks through shell companies and processing billions of dollars of illegal internet gambling proceeds.

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