Raymond Bitar, the founder of online poker site Full Tilt Poker, surrendered last week to the charges he faces for operating a Ponzi scheme with Full Tilt. Bitar was released earlier this week after a $2.5 million bond and agreeing to post $2 million property.
Bitar agreed to return to Manhattan to appear in U.S. District Court when he is asked. Bitar arrived in New York last week after flying in from Ireland where he was running his business. Bitar is facing charges as part of the shutdown of the top online poker companies in the world including PokerStars.
Prosecutors tried to have Bitar held without bail claiming that the new charges could send Bitar away for life. Prosecutors claimed that Bitar falsely claimed that poker player’s money would be safe but now hundreds of millions of dollars are missing from the Full Tilt Poker bank accounts. Prosecutors stated half of the money was owed to players in the United States.
After turning himself in, Bitar plead not guilty to the charges and released a statement which said that he had worked hard during the past fifteen months to help the online players get repaid. Bitar stated that returning to the US to face the charges was part of the process.
Once Bitar surrendered, the government released a new indictment that increased the amount of time Bitar would face in prison if he is convicted. The sentence went from a few years to life in prison. Prosecutors felt if bail was allowed then there was an increased danger of Bitar fleeing from the country to avoid life in prison.
Despite prosecutors feeling on the subject, Judge Paul Engelmayer granted bail. He did increase the amount of cash or property that Bitar had to put up to secure bail. The amount was $1 million and was changed to $2 million. Bitar must also be subject to electronic monitoring as part of the bail process.
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