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Steve Martin Responds to Michael J. Divita Claims he Did Not Voluntarily Leave Epic Poker Tourney

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Sep/14/2011
Michael J. Divita

Steve Martin, head of the Ethics Committee for the newly formed Epic Poker League and a former US prosecutor, responded to claims by Michael J. Divita that he chose not to voluntarily give up his winning $20,000 seat in its second main event after another poker player learned Divita was a registered child molester.

The Epic Poker League states that Divita, who won a $20,000 seat in the tournament, voluntarily decided to dismiss himself from the main event. 

“Who walks away from a $20,000 seat?”  He asked on the program.  “It’s just not done.  It’s not even a little bit true.”

He claims he was surrounded by security and “encouraged to leave”.

Divita initially served time nearly 20 years ago for lewd behavior with a minor girl.   He was also arrested in 2008 for lewd behavior on a minor but was never convicted.  Divita denied both charges. 

Martin said on the Quadjacks.com radio podcast program:  “In this circumstance time was limited in terms of the information, the Standards and Conducts Committee did meet to discuss the situation.  We talked about Mr. Divita and his background.  Players are expected to conduct themselves with high level of personal conduct and if there are issues on the personal conduct situation we will take proper action. 

“Information had been filed with the Committee based on some criminal conviction that he had.”

Martin said he would agree to take the $1500 offered to him as opposed to continuing to play in the tournament.  He would then file a petition.

“Society would consider a very serious felony conviction,” Martin said.

Quadjacks.com asked “Where do you draw the line?”

“If you look at the Department of Justice in what are severe investigations, crimes against property are different than crimes against people,” Martin answered.  “We take personal conduct seriously.”

Martin suggested that Divita’s participation in the league could ultimately hurt the Epic Poker brand. 

“It is not an automatic right to play in the league,” he said. 

The first Epic Poker event was won by Chino Rheem, who has been accused of cheating fellow poker players.  He has since been placed on probation by the league. 

“Divita is accused of committing what might possibly be the worst possible crime that a person could commit,” Martin said, implying there could be no correlations between the Chino Rheem matter and Michael Divita situation. 

“I simply gave Mr. Divita the choice and potentially the outcome for him if he chose to move forward.  I gave him the option of taking the money or that he could file for an eligibility review and in all likelihood action would have been taken against him.”

Martin noted that Divita has had ongoing criminal conduct that needed to be addressed. 

In regard to allowing members of Team Full Tilt Poker participation in the Epic Poker League, Martin noted that none of these individuals have officially been charged criminally with their role in the company.  Full Tilt Poker is currently delinquent in paying players.  Its co-founders were charged on April 15 with money laundering and bank fraud. 

- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com

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