Cozen O’Connor was one of the first FTP supporters to defend Full Tilt Poker when the US federal government cracked down on it in mid-April this year. When Lewis Kaplan, the federal district court judge in Manhattan, placed a restraining order against FTP, Cozen played an important role in helping the poker site reach an agreement with the federal government to allow it to retain their domain names so that it could continue functioning overseas and pay back its US poker players.

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However, on Tuesday, the DoJ made certain amendments in its civil complaint against FTP, alleging that the company was a Ponzi scheme in the guise of an online poker room and has robbed its players of nearly $444 million. The DoJ attorneys have also alleged that, instead of keeping player funds separately, the online poker company used player funds to pay its owners and board of directors. The DoJ also says that the company never had the funds required to pay back its US players.

Barry Boss of Cozen was the legal representative of Full Tilt Poker in April when the DoJ filed a civil suit against 11 FTP associates, including Raymond Bitar, accusing them of illegal gambling, bank fraud, and money laundering and demanding total control of FTP assets. On Tuesday, it amended its civil complaint, stating that FTP never had enough funds to refund its players. According to the amended indictment, FTP owed $390 million on March 31 this year, but had only $60 million in its bank account. The DoJ’s recent claims are that FTP has to return around $300 million to its players.

Preet Bharara, the US attorney, has issued a statement to the effect that FTP not only stands accused of bank fraud, but also of cheating its loyal players and robbing them of nearly $444 million through what Bharara calls “a global Ponzi scheme.”

The amended federal complaint names Raymond Bitar and two more directors and professional poker players such as Christopher Ferguson and Howard Lederer. Barry Boss was not available for any statement.

Full Tilt Poker’s troubles with processing payments began early in 2010, but instead of revealing the truth to its customers, the online poker company credited player accounts with non-existent money, or as the complaint states, “money that had never actually been collected from players’ bank accounts.” In a press statement issued in August, FTP had admitted that it had been facing financial problems.

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