According to Wicked Chops Poker, former Full Tilt Poker employee Jason “JDN” Newitt has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and is scheduled to appear today. The reason for his subpoena was not disclosed. Read the article here.
In September 2009, word came to pass that Newitt was filing suit against Full Tilt Poker, Pocket Kings, and Tiltware alleging that “he was unfairly fired and that his distribution payments were unfairly ceased. Defendants then took control of his ownership.” He parted ways with Full Tilt Poker following a well-publicized e-mail leak involving Full Tilt front man Howard Lederer and Newitt discussing Jimmy “gobboboy” Fricke, who finished second in the 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event.
Whether Newitt’s rumored appearance at the Southern District of New York involves his Full Tilt Poker lawsuit or the online poker room in any way remains to be seen. The involvement of the Southern District with the internet gambling industry has primarily been on the payment processing front. In April, Intrabill head Daniel Tzvetkoff was arrested and charged with money laundering, gambling conspiracy, and bank fraud in Las Vegas. A Dow Jones Newswire report indicated that the Southern District brought on the arrest of the Aussie and was focusing on “hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions with U.S. gamblers between February 2008 and March 2009.”
Last September, word broke that government officials had seized six bank accounts in Maryland related to the internet gambling payment processor Forshay Enterprises. The legal action followed similar seizures of funds belonging to Electracash and HMD, two other intermediaries.
Perhaps the most famous case involving the Southern District involves its investigation of Account Services, which was linked to providing payment processing for Full Tilt and PokerStars, the two largest online poker sites in the industry. Account Services front man Douglas Rennick, a Canadian, was hit with a potpourri of charges including bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling.
The Account Services sting was part of a larger assault on the internet gambling industry by the Southern District in which $30 million was seized. The money in question was destined for over 20,000 online poker players and, as a result of the disruption, sites like PokerStars gave cash bonuses to players who were affected when their checks bounced. The Poker Players Alliance, one of the main lobbying voices of the poker industry, filed an amicus brief on behalf of Account Services.
Wicked Chops’ namesake Steve “Chops” Preiss told Poker News Daily on Tuesday, “In general, subpoenas are not overly specific in nature. It’s no secret the DoJ has been investigating the online poker industry, and when J.D. Newitt sued Full Tilt Poker, he certainly opened himself up for some follow-up from the government. We simply won’t know if the subpoena is specifically targeting Full Tilt Poker or part of a larger and broader investigation of online poker until after the fact.” Newitt’s appearance could also be wholly unrelated to the industry.
Preiss speculated as to what the subpoena could mean for the online poker community: “This certainly isn’t ‘good for poker.’ But it might not necessarily be bad either. The DoJ has been consistent in their efforts in going after payment processors instead of site operators, and this is potentially just an exploratory measure on their part.”
A rumored grand jury investigation of Full Tilt Poker may be in the works as well. The Financial Times reported the investigation in April, although no further action has occurred.
Other recent lawsuits involving Full Tilt Poker include Brandon McSmith suing for the rights to the poker television series “Face the Ace” and Clonie Gowen suing for her own monetary distributions. The latter suit was dismissed in February, while McSmith’s legal squabble is ongoing. McSmith told Poker News Daily that officials from the FBI have contacted him.