Ray Bitar, Full Tilt CEO Released on BailThursday, July 12th, 2012 by Ryan
We recently did a write up about the fact that the CEO of the massive online poker site Full Tilt Poker had been arrested in New York. Just a week after he surrendered to US law enforcement officials at the JFK Airport, he is released on bail. It’s important to note that this definitely does NOT mean that his free in any way currently, just that he’s going to get to sleep at home and still get some time out in the real world before his court date which could potentially land him in jail for a very long time.
The deal behind Bitar getting out of jail was due to the fact that his defense team set up an agreement with the government before Judge Paul Englemayer heard each sides argument about bail on Monday. The agreement stated that he had to come up with $2.5 million to avoid being in prison until court, and also in that deal $1 million out of the total had to be secured. Out of that $1 million, the total had to come from $280k in cash, and $715k in real properties that were his. Out of the rest of the bail that Bitar had to put up, which was $1.5 million, it would come from the value of a warehouse that he owns out in California. The agreement doesn’t end there though as he’s not allowed to leave New York City, and that he has to disclose any and all assets that are his. With the electric monitoring that is going to be attached with this, he’s only allowed to go to certain locations which include the Eastern and Southern Districts of New Yrok, and Central District of California. Overall, it’s a pretty set deal that he has to stick to if he wants to remain out of prison until that court date.
For the record, Bitar has pleaded not guilty to all charges that are being put on him, and interestingly the government’s legal team requested that there be no bail set because they considered him to be a flight risk. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman decided to not deny bail, but bumped it from $250k to $2.4 million. He was also supposed to have $1 million of that in cash, and his defense asked if they could have a few weeks in order to come up with the money, but the government and judge denied this saying that he had to stay in prison until he met the requirements of the bail.
Things continue to just get more and more interesting with this situation though, as it was reported that Bitar earned over $2 million AFTER Black Friday. They also stated again that Bitar could be a flight risk, mainly due to the additional charges that came along in the Superseding Indictment which added up to 145 additional years on his sentence. He did not know this when he ended up surrendering, and also tried to access the $24 million bank account that he has, which made the defense feel as though he could potentially be prepared to flee and would have enough to support himself.
After that, Bitar’s bail was set until Monday still, but Judge Lewis Kaplan returned and was set to go to the bench. Unfortunately though he decided to recuse himself from the case since Bitar changed his services to Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, which was Kaplan’s former firm. It could be considered by many to be a conflict of interest, and there has not been a new judge assigned just yet.