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US Prosecutors Continue To Assault Online Poker Accounts

Poker advocates thought that they had reached a cease-fire with the Department of Justice regarding the seizure of bank accounts containing funds to be paid online poker winners, but the DoJ apparently disagrees.

Poker players who were calmed by news that a dialogue had been established between the Poker Players Alliance and the US Department of Justice after seizures a few weeks ago of online poker bank accounts are now dismayed to learn the federal government is at it again. Despite requests from the PPA that seizures be stopped until due process could be served, a fresh warrant against Union Bank of California was issued late in June without notification to the PPA, according to reports by Gambling911.

"The Assistant US Attorney never informed the PPA of this action," said a representative for the Poker Players Alliance.

The government action is considered risky legally, and speculation has been that the strategy of the Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York is to intimidate and harass online players, as the likelihood of the seizures standing up in court is not significant, according to legal experts.

Prosecutors may hope to scare US players into abandoning the Internet poker rooms for fear of not being paid. However, after the first round of seizures resulted in the loss of $33 million intended to pay US citizens, the poker rooms affected, including Full Tilt and Poker Stars, refunded patrons their lost winnings, plus a bonus for inconvenience.

PPA attorneys have said the government actions represent both an improper use of law and a violation of due process rights, which include the right to defend oneself,be presented with charges against oneself, and the presumption of innocence.

The PPA website carries a form to address Congressional members and demand that the rights of poker players be respected. The Justice Department operates under Attorney General Eric Holder, an appointee of President Obama, who has sworn to protect Internet freedoms and is noted as a poker player in his own right.

Published on July 9, 2009 by MattMiller

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Recent Comments

Posted by: common senseWhen: 07/10/2009 08:23:07 AM EST
Of course no one from teh Government notified the PPA -- to suggest that is would have been handled differently is foolish. The government never gives notice of its intent to make a seizure. That would ensure that the money they are after is gone before they get there. And the seizure strategy is anything by risky and of questionable reality. It's plainly evident that there is a legal basis. And just because the PPA communicated with the prosecutors doesn't mean that they are negotiating something with the government. Anyone can pick up the phone or have a meeting.
Posted by: Matt MillerWhen: 07/10/2009 10:27:20 AM EST
Using a non-existent law, or an improper interpretation of one which has been stricken down by judicial ruling, to seize funds without due process, which is basically the Constitutional right to not be persecuted by law enforcement doing as they will without regard to law, does not constitute "plain evidence of a legal basis."

The US DoJ has a history of deciding to ignore the law and do as it pleases, using its power to intimidate and obliterate perceived enemies. This goes back through administrations of both political parties at least twenty years. Ruby Ridge, Waco, Elian Gonzalez, BetOnSports, PartyGaming, and these seizures are all incidents of a heavy-handed thug squad seemingly above the law they are supposed to guard. Any one can be explained, somewhat; but the preponderance shows a pattern, dangerous and disturbing.
Posted by: common senseWhen: 07/10/2009 12:14:36 PM EST
You don't need to use the Wire Act. You put the Illegal Gambling Business Act and the money laundering statute together and money transfers to facilitate internet gambling are clearly illegal. There is no ambiguity in the law. You may not like it, but changing the law is for Congress, not for people who don't like what is clearly prohibited. Comparing Ruby Ridge and Waco to gambling seizures only emphasizes how hard you have to stretch to make your argument.
Posted by: Matt MillerWhen: 07/10/2009 02:04:08 PM EST
The reason the DoJ needs to twist the Wire Act like Linda Blair's head in "The Exorcist" is because the Illegal Gambling Business Act only applies to illegal gambling, and if the court-rendered verdict that the Wire Act only applies to sports gambling is accepted, then online poker is not illegal federally.

You are right, changing the law is for Congress, interpreting the law for the courts, and enforcing the law for DoJ; unfortunately, DoJ has assumed all three roles.