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US Attorney Preet Bharara tells Lederer to fold his ‘poker = skill’ argument

TAGs: Black Friday, Department of Justice, full tilt poker, howard lederer, Preet Bharara

preet-bharara-howard-ledererThe US Department of Justice has responded to the attempt by former Full Tilt Poker director Howard Lederer to apply the recent US District Court ruling that ‘poker isn’t prosecutable under the Illegal Gambling Business Act’ (aka the DiCristina Order) to the civil charges brought against him in the wake of Black Friday. In a letter sent Tuesday to the judge overseeing the civil complaint brought against Lederer and other former FTP directors, Lederer’s attorneys claimed that last week’s ruling by Judge Jack Weinstein had undercut “much of the government’s case” and therefore it would behoove Judge Leonard B. Sand to hold a status conference on this issue, or maybe even instruct the government to, you know, let bygones be bygones and let Howard focus on a far more serious fight: defending sister Annie Duke’s honor from Daniel Negreanu’s verbal assaults.

On Wednesday, the government responded to Lederer’s appeal with its own letter to Judge Sand, which we can safely sum up thusly: “Fuck off, Howard.” In the letter, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said the government didn’t believe Lederer’s request for a status conference “is necessary or warranted at this time.” Bharara went on to remind Lederer that the DiCristina Order “is, of course, not binding” on the Court hearing the civil complaint against him. Furthermore, Bharara pointed out that Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is overseeing the Black Friday criminal proceedings, denied a request by defendants Chad Elie and John Campos to dismiss the charges against them based on a similar ‘poker isn’t gambling under the IGBA’ argument.

More ominously, Bharara noted that the DiCristina Order “does not address the other statutory claims that have been, or will be, alleged by the Government in this action that do not involve IGBA.” The “or will be” section of that statement refers to the DoJ’s intent “to include additional statutory grounds for forfeiture and other relief” in a second amended complaint the government says it will file before the Sept. 10 deadline.

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