Ray Bitar will find out today if he will be allowed out on bail ahead of his trial on illegal gambling, money laundering and fraud charges after the prosecution argued he be detained due to being a flight risk.
The full Tilt CEO and part ower handed himself to US authorities last Monday to face charges contained within last April’s “Black Friday” indictments, when the US Department of Justice (DoJ) accused Bitar and ten other defendants with offences related to the US-facing operations of Full Tilt, Poker Stars and Absolute Poker.
While Bitar’s defence team applied for bail for Bitar upon his detainment, with the bond initially being set at US$2.5m, the US government filed a motion at a pre-trial hearing on Friday in support of Bitar’s pre-trial detention, with the judge delaying the final decision on grant of bail until today.
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara argued in Friday’s motion that the more serious charges contained within the superseding document unsealed after his arrest last Monday – the additional “wire fraud against players” offences taking Bitar’s possible maximum prison sentence to 145 years – meant that the defendant “presents a very real risk of flight that cannot be addressed by any bail conditions.”
As well as the real possibility of a lengthy prison sentence providing “a powerful incentive to flea”, federal prosecutors also argued that Bitar “has assets abroad that could support life as a fugitive”. According to the DoJ, citing company records, Bitar allegedly made at least US$40m from Full Tilt based on salary, bonus and profit distributions, with the DoJ also alleging that Bitar had attempted earlier this year to access more than US$24m in a bank account in his name that had not been listed in the Black Friday indictment or restraining order, of which the government had not previously been aware. The Doj said that: “The recent discovery of these accounts raises questions about Bitar’s willingness to comply with the restraining order…and about what other overseas accounts Bitar may have.”
Further, argued the DoJ, “[i]t would be nearly impossible to prevent Bitar from crossing the border into Mexico from California (where the bail order permits him to reside) and from there traveling onward to other locations, potentially with real or forged foreign travel documents that thedefendant has had over a year from the original indictment to obtain.”