Sandy Swartzbaugh and Bryan Oulton, who own and operate the Players Poker Championship (PPC), stand accused of fraud and racketeering. A civil lawsuit has been slapped on them, alleging that the PPC is a Ponzi scheme in disguise. A court in Maryland issued a restraining order on January 3 and the case is now in progress.
The document requesting the restraining order alleges that the PPC is actually a global Ponzi scheme that involves poker tournaments at several casinos based in and out of the US for the past one year and possibly for up to the past four years. The court paper says: “It is now apparent that the Ponzi scheme has reached its final legs, PPC has invaded the trust holding the plaintiff’s money, and a mad dash toward illegality has come to subsume the financial and operational affairs of PPC with its fraudulent patterns and practices now publicly exposed.”
The name of Maryland Live! Casino has been mentioned in the lawsuit as it has played host to certain PPC tournaments and the casino stands accused of encouraging negligent misrepresentation and negligence.
Mac VerStandig, the legal representative of the four poker players who had emerged as the finalists of the PPC Aruba World Championship, is responsible for obtaining the restraining order, which temporarily restrains the PPC from “engaging in any business whatsoever.” The attorney has accused the PPC for not paying $173,000 to poker players Michael Lerner, Stephen Deutsch, and Joan Sandoval who had emerged as the finalists of the World Championship. John Ott, who finished fifth, is also one of the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit says that the PPC has proved its inability to maintain prize funds separately so that it can pay players in a timely manner. The PPC stands accused of using prize funds and other streams of revenue, including investor contributions, for other purposes, leaving it unable to pay out prizes.
Allegedly, a PPC representative urged one of the plaintiffs to refrain from bringing suit and instead to accept a part of its cash flow.
VerStandig says that that they will continue to take emerging facts into consideration to determine if any more counts or defendants can be added. He hinted the involvement of certain other operators in the organization of the PPC Main Event, but admitted that the claims need to be investigated. He said that the plaintiffs are looking forward to settling their case in court.