The "Spider-Man" actor agrees to pay $80,000 to settle the $311,000 claim
Maguire's poker winnings were paid with Ponzi scheme proceeds, the suit says
At least 10 other people have been sued by a bankruptcy trustee
None of the defendants in the civil lawsuits faced criminal charges
Tobey Maguire has settled a lawsuit that sought repayment of hundreds of thousands of dollars the “Spider-Man” actor allegedly won in secret high-stakes poker games at Beverly Hills luxury hotels, according to court documents filed last week.
A series of federal suits, including the one against Maguire, said the poker winnings were paid with funds stolen from investors who had been lured into an illegal Ponzi scheme.
Maguire agreed to pay $80,000 to the estate of Bradley Ruderman, 48, who is serving a 10-year federal prison sentence for tax, wire and investor advice fraud convictions. The judge will hold a hearing on December 21 to decide if he will approve the Maguire settlement.
The lawsuit against Maguire, filed in March, alleged that the actor won $311,000 from Ruderman in 2007 and 2008.
Actors Nick Cassavetes and Gabe Kaplan, along with professional poker player Dan Bilzerian, two nightclub owners and a Los Angeles lawyer, are among at least 10 other people sued by a bankruptcy trustee.
Most of the celebrity defendants have not publicly commented on the case, but Kaplan, the star of the 1970s TV sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter,” reached his own settlement in August.
Kaplan, whose poker skills are well known because of his frequent television appearances at professional gambling events, agreed to repay $27,000 of the $62,000 the trustee contended he was paid in gambling proceeds from the Ponzi scheme funds.
Lawsuits: Celebrities play high-stakes poker in hotels
None of the defendants in the civil lawsuits faced criminal charges, but the bankruptcy trustee for Ruderman’s estate said they had to return at least $1.5 million of their alleged gambling winnings.
What each defendant allegedly has in common is that they beat Bradley Ruderman in “regularly held, high stakes and clandestine ‘Texas Hold ‘em’ poker games” at hotels and homes in the Beverly Hills area.
Ruderman induced at least 22 victim-investors to give him approximately $44.3 million that was never invested, one lawsuit said. Ruderman, a Beverly Hills resident, used the money, in part, to cover his gambling losses, it said.
The suits say that the poker games were “exclusive events, by invitation only, and that there was a regular roster of players consisting of wealthy celebrities, entrepreneurs, attorneys and businessmen.”
The games were also unlicensed and illegal, so “the player had no legally enforceable contractual right to receive payment,” the suits said.
Bilzerian, a top professional poker player known as the “Blitz,” beat Ruderman for $100,000, which the bankruptcy trustee wants back, court documents said.
There is no criminal investigation of the alleged gambling, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney said in June when the lawsuits were made public. “Gambling is illegal, but it’s a misdemeanor,” Sandi Gibbons said.
The court documents pull back the curtain a bit on what is mostly done behind closed doors by the wealthy and well-known in Beverly Hills.
The poker games were “held at luxury locations such as The Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, California, the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, and occasionally at private residences of the poker players,” the lawsuits said.
None of the hotels would comment on the allegations when contacted by CNN.
The games were “arranged by Molly Bloom, initially (as) an assistant to one of the poker players and then as a stand-alone business,” court documents said. Bloom arranged “food, alcohol and massages” for the players and “arranged for the settlement of gambling winnings and losses between and among the players.”
Bloom, who is being sued by the trustee for $473,200, denied in a response to the court that she was involved in organized illegal gambling. She acknowledged, however, that she “performed services and received value from Ruderman in good faith in exchange for her services.”
Bloom passed “a large percentage” of the money sent to her by Ruderman to “third parties,” her response said.
Ruderman’s Ponzi scheme spanned seven years, starting in 2002 and ending with an FBI investigation in 2009, according to court papers.
“To obtain investments in the fund, Ruderman misrepresented to potential investors that Lowell Milken (chairman of the Milken Family Foundation and younger brother of Michael Milken) and Larry Ellison (the CEO of Oracle Corporation) were investors in the funds,” federal court documents said.
Ruderman provided false accounting statements claiming his hedge fund investments earned between 15% and 61% each year and were valued at more than $800 million, the documents said. “In reality, the funds lost millions of dollars over the years and had a net liquidation value of less than $650,000 at the end of 2008,” documents said.
It was a year after the funds collapse in April 2009, and months after Ruderman pleaded guilty in January 2010, that the bankruptcy trustee discovered the large transfers of cash from the fund to pay his gambling debts, the lawsuits said.