Due to the exceptionally serious health condition that Full Tilt Poker founder, Ray Bitar is currently in, the US Department of Justice has agreed to a plea bargain with the 41 year old over charges of bank fraud, money laundering and online gambling offences. It was revealed this week in The Guardian that Bitar is awaiting a heart transplant in California.
Bitar will abandon his defense against the criminal charges, for which he faced a maximum prison sentence of 65 years. After Black Friday in April 2011, Bitar was also charged with running a Ponzi-style scheme where he and others allegedly plundered ring-fenced customer accounts, despite assurances to players that their money was watertight. According to charges brought against Bitar by US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, Bitar had “bluffed his player-customers and fixed the game against them as part of an international Ponzi scheme that left players empty-handed.”
In July last year, after it was confirmed that Full Tilt Poker had been sold to its rival Poker Stars, Bitar returned to the United States, where he was officially charged. At the time, he issued a statement saying: “I know that a lot of people are very angry at me. I understand why. Full Tilt should never have gotten into a position where it could not repay player funds.”
Yesterday, a representative for Bitar confirmed that a plea bargain had been reached, but no further details were published.