Longtime professional poker player William “Ted” Forrest is facing two felony theft and bad-check charges from the Wynn Las Vegas resort, which is accusing him of racking up $215,000 in gambling debt. On Thursday, a judge determined Forrest would remain free without bail pending an Oct. 18 hearing.
“It was a loan. He didn’t commit a crime,” Forrest’s attorney Chris Rasmussen told the Associated Press. “They sent him to the bank to open a $100 bank account. They knew he didn’t have the money. And now they take years to prosecute.”
The loans Forrest is accused of leaving unpaid were written in the form of casino markers (IOUs). Since 1995, these markers have been treated like fraudulent bad checks in Nevada. The case alleges the checks were issued in October 2012 and May 2013.
The latest complaint alleges that Forrest agreed to a payment schedule, including ten installments of $10,000 each, plus an additional lump-sum payment. Wynn’s lawyers claim payment obligations were not fulfilled.
Forrest has had massive success in the gaming industry, with millions of dollars in tournament earnings since his career began. In 1993, he won his first three World Series of Poker bracelets and has since added three more to his jewelry case. Additionally, he has found wins on the Professional Poker Tour and World Poker Tour, where he has one title and 11 money finishes.
As of last year, his live tournament earnings topped $6 million.
The Oct. 18 preliminary hearing will determine if the case will be tried in state courts. If convicted, Forrest could face up to 14 years in prison.
Currently, Nevada casinos and resorts are permitted to turn to county prosecutors to collect unpaid gambling debts. Prosecutors are then allowed to collect a ten-percent processing and prosecution fee from any settlement. Last year, the Nevada Supreme Court denied another high-roller’s challenge to this process.
Featured photo credit: Flushdraw.net.
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