Bitar Pleads Guilty, Avoids Jail

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UPDATE 4/15: On the 2nd anniversary of Black Friday, Ray Bitar pled guilty in a Manhattan court via videolink.

His plea was accepted and he was sentenced to time served (meaning that he will serve no additional jail time). He will also surrender $40mm in cash along with other property and assets.

Per DiamondFlush, Bitar pled guilty to two charges – a UIGEA violation and a charge related to bank/wire fraud.

Original story follows.

Definitely one of the odder twists in the Black Friday saga.

As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, former Full Tilt Poker head Ray Bitar has reached a deal with United States authorities that will allow Bitar to avoid serving any jail time.

The twist: Bitar is apparently in urgent need of a heart transplant or an artificial heart due to a severe medical condition. The specifics of his condition are unknown.

Vague word of Bitar’s health problems initially emerged in March 2013 when he was reportedly granted a continuance for a scheduled pre-trial hearing on medical grounds.

The basics of Bitar’s deal (which has yet to be publicly filed or approved by a judge) per Dave Behr at

  • Bitar will surrender roughly $40mm in assets
  • Bitar is likely – although not guaranteed – to avoid serving  jail time
  • Bitar will plead guilty to two as-yet-unspecified felonies

At the top end of the sentencing range for the collective charges levied against him, Bitar was facing what amounted to a life sentence.

The tentative date for Bitar to enter his plea and detail his misdeeds is April 19th.

Bitar’s settlement is not altogether different from the deals reached by his former Full Tilt co-workers Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson. All three deals involved substantial monetary forfeitures but no jail time.

But given the severity of the charges Bitar was facing relative to Ferguson and Lederer, it seems inconceivable that Bitar would have been able to secure such a deal in the absence of a critical health issue requiring immediate and extreme attention.

Some early reaction from around Twitter:





- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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