In a lawsuit that has popped up on both PocketFives.com and TwoPlusTwo in recent days, a Florida resident seeking to recover “illegal poker gambling losses” is suing six online poker players from Illinois. The lawsuit includes nearly 190 pages of tournament results and is numbered 1:10-cv-06543.
Targeted in the case are six top players from the Land of Lincoln: Andy “BKiCe” Seth, Faraz “The-Toilet” Jaka, Benjamin “Chong94” LeFew, Mohsin “chicagocards1” Charania, Ravi “govshark2” Raghavan, and Tyler “puffinmypurp” Reiman. The latter was the runner-up to Harrison Gimbel in the 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event in January and walked away with $1.75 million.
Scott Crespo filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois one week ago and cited why he’s able to sue under state law: “If within six months, such person [who] is entitled to initiate action to recover his losses does not in fact pursue his remedy, any person may initiate a civil action against the winner.” Crespo alleges that the six defendants used “real estate or property for the purposes of gambling” in the form of the PokerHaus, located in Champaign.
Crespo calls out Seth as the owner of the PokerHaus, where he alleges that the group has “actively recruited other individuals to participate in illegal gambling activity” and “committed acts of collusion and cheating while playing online poker.” The allegations for the latter charge were not spelled out. Crespo’s filing also reminds its readers of the “60 Minutes” piece profiling the cheating scandals on Absolute Poker and UB.com. The CBS News report, which aired in November 2008, ended with officials questioning why Russ Hamilton, the purported mastermind behind the cheating scandal, was still roaming free in Las Vegas.
After an examination of gambling addictions and other social ills, Crespo outlines nearly 700 tournament cashes by Seth, Charania, Jaka, LeFew, Raghavan, and Reiman on sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt, and UB.com. Crespo is seeking triple the amount lost to the group of six plus court costs and “any other relief that the Court deems just.” Crespo’s lawyer is Mark Lavery, who works out of Des Plaines, Illinois, while Crespo hails from Florida.
Taking an interest in the case is the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), whose Litigation Network matches online poker players seeking counsel with pre-screened local attorneys. PPA Kentucky State Director Rich Muny told Poker News Daily on Tuesday, “I have spoken with one of the defendants and we have discussed the issue at the highest levels within the PPA. It’s something we take very seriously.”
The time frame at hand is the end of 2006 to the present. The screen names of all six players at sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt, UB.com, Absolute Poker, and Bodog are given in the lawsuit, and, according to Crespo, “any conduct committed outside the State constitutes an attempt to commit an offense within the State of Illinois.” Each tournament in the money finish is over $50 and occurred more than six months ago, per the Illinois statute.
Poker software allegedly used for collusion is also presented in the lawsuit. These include programs like Poker Crusher, Poker Bot Pro, Pocket Aces, No Rules Poker, Calculatem Pro, Sit and Go Shark, and Holdem Genius. Whether any of the defendants actually used any of these pieces of software was not outlined.
In Kentucky, a similar case is unfolding in which the Commonwealth is seeking to recoup losses by state residents to online poker sites between 2005 and 2009. The legal action was originally filed against Full Tilt Poker, but has since been amended to include PartyPoker as well. In a separate lawsuit, Kentucky attorneys are trying to force the forfeiture of 141 internet gambling domain names, including those belonging to PokerStars and Full Tilt.
Read the Illinois litigation in its entirety by clicking here.