Celebrities Sued Over Illegal Poker Games With Hedge Fund Fraudster

Jun 22 2011 | 11:12am ET

Spider-Man star Tobey Maguire is one of over a dozen high-profile celebrities being sued because the money they are said to have won from a hedge fund manager in an illegal poker ring was stolen from the manager’s clients.

The suit has been lodged by lawyers for the victims of former hedge fund manager Bradley Ruderman, convicted in 2009 of running a $44 million Ponzi scheme.

According to the Star magazine, an FBI investigation revealed that Ruderman, CEO of Ruderman Capital Partners, had lost $25 million of his investors’ money (including over $300,000 to Maguire) in twice-weekly poker games at the luxury Beverly Hills Hotel, the Four Seasons and the Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard.

The Star (citing “multiple members of the ring”) claims Maguire’s poker buddies included Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (none of whom is being sued) and that the buy-in was $100,000.

Those poker players facing what the magazine terms “hefty” lawsuits include billionaire Alex Gores; director Nick Cassavetes; Gabe Kaplan of Welcome Back, Kotter fame; Rick Salomon, best known for his role in Paris Hilton’s sex tape; record label owner Cody Leibel; and Las Vegas entrepreneur Andrew Sasson.

Ruderman himself is in jail in Texas, serving a sentence for wire fraud and investment advisor fraud, but lawyers for his clients have filed a series of civil suits against the big winners in the poker games, hoping to recover their lost savings.

According to the court documents in the Maguire suit, Ruderman used his clients’ money to "pay for gambling losses at clandestine, high stakes poker games that were operated without any licenses or permits.

“As part of the scheme, funds invested in [Ruderman] were transferred to persons such as Defendant [Maguire], who received the funds on account of Ruderman's gambling losses and on account of Defendant's gambling winnings."

At the time of his trial, Ruderman admitted that he lost some $5.2 million of investor money in clandestine poker games, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. The FBI says he also misappropriated at least $8.7 million for personal expenses, including a pair of Porsches and a summer rental in Malibu, Calif.

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