Ray Bitar has posted bail and was granted his release from jail after spending the past week behind bars.
Making his fourth appearance before a judge since voluntarily surrendering to federal authorities seven days ago, the Full Tilt CEO was able to meet enhanced bail requirements that included an increase in the total cash and property to be posted from $1 million to $2 million and electronic home-monitoring. Previous bond requirements of surrendering his passport to the court and limited travel between New York and California remained unchanged.
On Friday, prosecutors had objected to Bitar’s release by filing a motion for pretrial detention in hopes of keeping the alleged
global ponzi scheme perpetrator behind bars until trial. In arguing for his detention, prosecutors said that Bitar had assets in the millions of dollars in overseas banks which
presented a risk of flight that could not be addressed by any bail conditions. The court filing also made note of the fact that Bitar remained on the lam for more than 14 months and that the additional charges in the superseding indictment–which came as a surpise to Bitar and his attorneys–are much more severe and could see Bitar incarcerated up to 145 years.
However, prosecutors buckled on their insistence of no bail in Monday’s hearing, agreeing to the enhanced bond provisions and a further requirement that Bitar list his complete assets–both in the U.S. and abroad. The government cited several possible accounts in Germany, Ireland and the Channel Islands. The 40-year-old poker player turned CEO has 48 hours in which to disclose those assets, as well as prove the $1 million value of a warehouse he owns in San Dimas that will be used to secure a portion of the bail.
The bond hearing was heard by Judge Paul Engelmayer, who also presided over Friday’s hearing and made a ruling to keep Bitar locked up over the weekend. Engelmayer felt that Judge Kaplan, who is the appointed judge on the Black Friday case, should have decided on the bond issue. But Kaplan recused himself from Bitar’s case because prior to his stint as a federal judge, he was a partner at Paul, Weiss, the firm that is representing Bitar. For that reason, the charges against Bitar will likely be severed from those of co-defendant Nelson Burtnick, the Full Tilt payment processor who was also charged on the superseding indictment. Bitar’s case will be raffled to another federal judge.
At the close of the bond proceeding, Engelmayer permitted Bitar’s speedy trial rights to receive an exclusion of one month to allow his lawyers time to bone up on the additional allegations spelled out in the superseding indictment. The judge was also hopeful that the parties could begin discussions on possible plea bargain deals.