Class action filed against Full Tilt Poker in St. Clair County

Kelly Holleran Aug. 1, 2012, 4:36pm

A group of online poker players who are upset about their inability to withdraw funds from a defunct poker Web site filed a lawsuit against the directors and players on the site.

In a putative class action complaint, lead plaintiff Judy Fahrner claims she and other Illinois residents invested money into poker games on the Full Tilt Poker Web site. After the Department of Justice shut the site down on April 15, 2011, however, Fahrner and her co-plaintiffs lost their money, according to the complaint filed July 11 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Full Tilt Poker was an Internet site where people from around the country could play online poker with professional poker players who either owned or directed the Web site, the suit states. Illinois residents played with real money, which they lost when the government shut the site down, the complaint says.

The government filed criminal fraud charges against Full Tilt Poker and other similar online poker Web sites in April of 2011, the suit says. In connection with the pending charges, the government seized all of the assets belonging to Full Tilt Poker, including the profits it made from Fahrner and other Illinois residents, she claims.

"On April 15, and at all relevant times prior, hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of Illinois residents held personal funds in individual, 'secure' accounts with Full Tilt Poker," the suit states. "The deposited funds were fraudulently co mingled with Full Tilt's operational funds and dispersed to individual defendants. Upon information and belief, Full Tilt's Board of Directors distributed approximately $443,860,529.89 to themselves and other owners between April 2007 and April 2011."

By running the Web site, Fahrner alleges Full Tilt Poker's directors and its individual players violated an Illinois statute that prohibits gambling.

In her complaint, Fahrner names Full Tilt Poker directors Raymond Bitar, Howard Lederer, Christopher Ferguson and Rafael Furst as defendants. Other defendants include Filco, Kolyma Corporation, Pocket Kings, Ranston and Mail Media and professional poker players Philip Ivey Jr., Johnson Juanda, Jennifer Harman-Traniello, Phillip Gordon, Erick Lindgren, Erik Seidel, Andrew Bloch, Mike Matusow, Gus Hansen, Allen Cunningham and Patrik Antonius.

In her 25-count complaint, Fahrner is seeking an unspecified judgment, plus other relief the court deems just.

Lloyd M. Cueto of the Law Office of Lloyd M. Cueto in Belleville will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-354.

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