Rafe Furst Settles with SDNY in Full Tilt Poker Black Friday Case after Lederer Files Motion to Dismiss, Ferguson Rides Along

Rafael Furst, a former Board of Directors member of the original Full Tilt Poker, named as an “FTP Insider” in a civil money laundering and forfeiture case brought against those Board members, has settled his part of the case with the U.S. Attorneys Office.

Furst’s order of settlement in the Black Friday case against him was entered today in the Southern District of New York.

As part of his settlement, Furst:

  • Admits no wrongdoing in the matter.
  • Contends that he was unaware of any wrongful activity of Full Tilt Poker and unaware that the company had become unable to satisfy it’s player account liabilities.
  • Agrees to forfeit all funds in the Trust account named in the civil action, without admitting any liability.
  • Agrees  to a civil forfeiture amount of $ 150,000.00, “additional funds”, also without admitting any wrongdoing. A payment plan will be established for these “additional funds”.

Furst further agrees not to work for, or derive money from, either directly or indirectly, any operation of any internet gambling business in the United States, including businesses offering internet poker in the U.S., until such time that relevant law makes that business legal and whatever entity he is associated with obtains appropriate authorization from all relevant government regulatory authorities.     

Furst can make no further claims regarding the seizure, forfeiture, etc.  of the Trust funds or the Additional Funds. He further agrees to make no claims or petitions for remission relative to these amounts. Finally, Furst waives all rights to appeal or otherwise challenge or contest this settlement.

Without admitting to any guilt, culpability or liability, Furst, after the payments have been completed to the U.S. government, will have the civil case against him dismissed with prejudice.

Prior to this settlement, the government had originally filed the civil money laundering charges against Furst seeking forfeiture and eventually asking for a judgment in the amount of $  11,706,323.96.  It is unclear in the settlement documents exactly how much of that amount will actually be transferred to the government, but it is again specified that  the settlement amount, including the additional funds ($ 150,000.) will be included in the remission fund available for application from victims of the offenses charged against Full Tilt, to reclaim their losses.

Lederer and Ferguson Fight On

In keeping with the scheduled deadline of November 16, 2012, Howard Lederer filed a new motion to dismiss the charges against him as filed in the Second Amended Complaint on September 26, 2012.

The First Amended Civil Complaint, filed September 2011, among other things sought monetary damages against the “FTP Insiders”, aka the Board of Directors of Full Tilt Poker, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Ray Bitar and Rafe Furst, also seeking forfeiture of all right title and interest in the contents of certain accounts belonging to those defendants, and all property traceable thereto, such forfeiture premise based on the allegations that those accounts were the proceeds of illegal activity, including civil money laundering penalties.

The Second Amended Civil Complaint, dated September 2012, charges numerous violations, including but not limited to: Operation of Illegal Gambling Business, Travel Act Violations, Bank Fraud, Wire Fraud and Money Laundering.

The various claims for relief for the forfeitures requested in the complaint were:

1. Forfeiture under Illegal Gambling

2. Forfeiture under Travel Act

3. Forfeiture under Bank and Wire Fraud

4. Forfeiture under Wire Fraud

5. Forfeiture under Promotional Money Laundering and Conspiracy

6. Forfeiture under Concealment Money Laundering and Conspiracy

7. Forfeiture under International Money Laundering and Conspiracy

8. Forfeiture under Bulk Money Laundering and Conspiracy

9. Forfeiture under Promotional Money Laundering and Conspiracy relating to Full Tilt Fraud Against Players

10.Forfeiture under Concealment Money Laundering and Conspiracy relating to Full Tilt Fraud Against Players

11.Forfeiture under International Money Laundering and Conspiracy relating to Full Tilt Fraud Against Players

12.Forfeiture under Bulk Money Laundering and Conspiracy relating to Full Tilt Fraud Against Players

Lederer and the other members of the Board are specifically called out for claims 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8 above as an FTP “insider” (Board of Directors Member). Bitar is further named for the additional charges of # 9, 11 and 12.

Seven homes, six in Las Vegas, one in California, five automobiles, including an Antique 1965 Shelby Roadster and a 2012 Audi A8-L (which had it’s purchase completed after Black Friday and after Full Tilt Poker had its operations suspended worldwide by the AGCC), at least two bank accounts and a 401 K retirement account, all property of Lederer are named. The government, in it’s Second Amended Complaint took great pains to describe tracking evidence to show each of these properties were traceable to the funds Lederer derived from Full Tilt Poker.

The U.S.A.O., in the complaint, asked the court to issue a monetary judgment in the amount of not less than $ 42.5 million for Lederer. For Ferguson the amount listed in the judgment request is at least $ 42 million, a significant downward departure from the more than $ 80 million paid to Ferguson thru Full Tilt. 1 The USAO further asked for a monetary judgement against Bitar for an amount not less than $ 40.8 million and from Furst for an amount not less than $ 11.7 million.

In late August, a letter  from Lederer’s attorney to Judge Sand was leaked on the internet (It was then further reposted by Ferguson attorney, and former FTP attorney Ian Imrich). The letter was not on the docket and was sent directly to Judge Sand, a practice frowned on in almost every federal jurisdiction in the country, except for SDNY. In that letter, Lederer’s attorney requested that Sand grant a status conference prior to moving ahead with the case. The purpose of the conference, according to the request, was to discuss the discuss the significance of the recent DiCristina ruling in the EDNY, where Judge Weinstein overturned a guilty verdict of the defendant based on the skill v. luck argument, finding poker was a game of skill, and that IGBA did not therefore apply. The ruling in the EDNY was not binding upon Judge Sand in the Southern District, but the letter suggested that, among other things, that Sand may wish to, based on possible arguments during the conference, stay Lederer’s case or even refer the case to a Magistrate Judge to explore settlement possibilities. Ferguson and Furst both acknowledged the letter and asked to be included for similar consideration. That status conference was not granted, and the USAO SDNY moved ahead, filing the Second Amended Complaint now facing the “FTP Insiders”, including Lederer.

In addition to all of the previously mentioned defense arguments against this case, as asserted by Lederer and other defendants before him, Lederer’s new motion to dismiss that Second Amended Complaint is further based on Lederer’s claim that lack of specificity by the U.S.A.O. as to his specific role as it pertains to those allegations.

He has further filed his verified claim with the court as to his right, title and interest in each of the properties the government asks for in forfeiture.

Ferguson has joined Lederer’s motion to dismiss his own charges as well.

At this time, the government has until December 21, 2012 to file their responses to the motions. The defendants, Lederer and Ferguson, then must file their replies by January 11, 2013.

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6 Responses to Rafe Furst Settles with SDNY in Full Tilt Poker Black Friday Case after Lederer Files Motion to Dismiss, Ferguson Rides Along

  1. Curtis Woodard says:

    another successful cash grab by the US Government . . . nobody did nothing wrong, but Uncle Sam gets the $$$$ anyway. And all questions of legality are moot.

  2. Steve says:

    How much did Furst receive from FTP. How about over the last year it was in business?

    • Diamond Flush says:

      Over $ 11 million in distributions alone. Distributions made monthly since early 2007, so at least 25% of that was in the last year pre BF. It is not specified how much of that $ 11+ M was forfeited by virtue of this settlement. That does not include the “additional” $ 150K.

  3. Kevin Carsianna says:

    This case always surprises me!

  4. Matt Allen says:

    Does this clear Rafael Furst in criminal matters or just civil?

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