The chief executive of Full Tilt Poker, the beleaguered one-time Web poker giant, was arrested Monday at John F. Kennedy International Airport as the government unveiled new criminal charges against him related to an alleged Ponzi scheme.
Ray Bitar, 40 years old, is the most significant person yet to turn himself into the Justice Department’s 15-month-long effort to prosecute the three one-time leading online poker companies in the U.S. He pleaded not guilty in a hearing in Manhattan federal court Monday.
The government first unsealed criminal indictments against Mr. Bitar, who was residing in Ireland, and 10 others in April 2011 that charged the group with money laundering, bank fraud and illegal gambling. Six members of the group have pleaded guilty to some charges, while five, including Mr. Bitar, remained outside the country and hadn’t yet entered pleas. One person among the group—a bank executive—has been sentenced to three months in jail.
In the indictment unsealed Monday, the government added the allegation that Mr. Bitar and an employee had operated a fraud scheme meant to enrich Full Tilt owners—mainly a group of professional poker players—while covering up financial problems at the company.