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Online Poker eCheck Seizure Warrants Could be Unsealed by July 27

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Jul/15/2009

A hearing is scheduled for July 27 to determine whether seizure warrants and court documents connected with an investigation into online poker eCheck processors will be unsealed. 

Costigan Media, parent company of Gambling911.com, submitted a Memorandum of Law in Support of its Motion to Intervene and to unseal court records related to the issuance of a seizure warrant of funds tied to online poker's two biggest companies, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

The US Attorney out of the Southern District of New York had froze funds in excess of $30 million tied to both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker on June 3.  That office had instructed three banks - Citibank, Goldwater Bank and Alliance Bank of Arizona - to freeze the accounts associated with the online poker rooms.  A second seizure warrant was issued June 24 to Union Bank out of California.  Costigan Media amended its motion to have that warrant unsealed as well. 

A magistrate judge in the district issued the first seizure warrant for an account at a Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco, and a federal prosecutor told Alliance Bank to freeze accounts. In a letter faxed to Alliance Bank, the prosecutor said accounts held by payment processor Allied Systems Inc. are subject to seizure and forfeiture "because they constitute property involved in money laundering transactions and illegal gambling offenses." The letter was signed by Arlo Devlin-Brown, assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Up until now these seizure warrants have remained sealed.  A separate magistrate judge signed off on the June 24 seizure warrant.

The question presented by the motion filed by Costigan Media on Thursday is whether the public and media are entitled to have the application for a civil seizure warrant unsealed after the issuance and execution of the warrant, but before the government -- which is engaged in a contemporaneous criminal investigation -- has filed any criminal charges.

This Motion contends that Costigan Media has the right to intervene for the purpose of seeking and unsealing the documents.  Costigan Media and the public are entitled to see these documents pursuant to both a First Amendment right and a common-law right of access to judicial documents.

Costigan Media functions as a member of the press and exercises rights and privileges arising under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The US Government has until the 20th to respond to the Motion submitted by Costigan Media. 

Costigan Media is represented by Baruch Weiss, who served as the assistant general counsel for enforcement at the Treasury Department, and as the acting deputy general counsel at Homeland Security.

Gambling911.com Staff

 

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