April 15th, 2011 has become known as Black Friday in the poker community, the day on which the United States Department of Justice and FBI took to the online poker world in a big way, issuing indictments against eleven individuals and seizing bank accounts and web domains of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, UB and Absolute Poker. The latest development to be revealed late last week is that the federal prosecutors are now going after personal assets of two of the eleven indicted.
Ray Bitar, known as one of the founders of Full Tilt Poker, is one of the two being targeted in this action. He is believed to be currently living overseas, and perhaps this action is an attempt to prove that simply being out of the country does not put him outside the reach of the Department of Justice. The other, Chad Elie, is accused of opening bank accounts in the United States through deceptive means to allow poker companies to operate. As he was inside the United States he was arrested, but later released on bond worth the trifling sum of $250,000.
Supplemental forfeiture of five homes was filed by federal prosecutors last week, with four of these properties belonging to Bitar and the remaining home to Elie’s wife Destiny Davis. These properties range in value with one 5,100 square-foot estate being valued at $2.9 Million. Despite the fact that Elie and Davis were not married until the day after his arrest in conjunction with these cases, the Department of Justice nevertheless seems intent to seize her $1.5 Million 7,200 square-foot mansion.
It’s still very early days for all those involved, but we can rest assured that there are lawyers working around the clock on both sides of the case, desperately trying to gain the upper hand. While player accounts and funds are rightly the primary thing on everyone’s mind, it will also be interesting to see how this continues, and if an effective case can be made for the poker rooms or the individuals targeted by the United States government on Black Friday.