Former Full Tilt Poker Executive Chris Ferguson Settles With Government

Over a year and a half ago, the name Black Friday became a historic term in the poker world when the US Department of Justice shut down the illegal operations behind Full Tilt Poker.  Federal investigators built cases against the former executives of the online poker website, but lawyers negotiated settlements with the government in an attempt to put an end to the Black Friday investigation.

The DOJ claimed that eleven operators knowingly transformed Full Tilt Poker into a Ponzi scheme, funneling millions of dollars from American poker players to pay their own salaries.  Investigators say eight of the suspects, who are believed to have been the payment processors and thus the chief operators of the scandal, have surrendered to the authorities.

Over the last year, most of the suspects including high profile figures Howard Lederer and Rafe Furst agreed to plea bargains with the DOJ.  Prosecutors now report that the third major player, former Full Tilt Poker board member Chris Ferguson, has reached a similar agreement.

The DOJ initially wanted Ferguson to surrender $40 million in assets for his part in the scandal, but Full Tilt Poker lawyer Ian Imrich convinced the government to lower the sum to $14 million worth of dividends from the old website.  In addition, Ferguson will pay a fine of $2.35 million, which the DOJ says will help pay back US poker players.  The agreement is similar to the settlements with Lederer and Furst in that all wrongful charges against Ferguson will be dropped, and he can maintain he was “unaware of any wrongful activity.”

Former Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar remains under house arrest awaiting trial for his part in the scandal, while the other four suspects have agreed to fines or in some cases, prison terms.  The DOJ says while most of the Full Tilt Poker scandal will have resolution following the trial of Bitar, the three remaining suspects – including former owner Isai Scheinberg – remain on the run, and are believed to be outside of US jurisdiction.  Prosecutors say they will continue searching for the fugitives until they are found and put on trial.

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