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Shooting Your Mouth Off — Or Not

February 15, 2012

Two very different stories got me thinking about the perils of speaking out when you probably shouldn’t.

The first story comes from today’s New York Times and explains how Edward Maher found himself in police custody in Ozark, Missouri nearly 19-years after he allegedly robbed an armored car in London, England. Maher, a former armored car driver, allegedly stole his cargo during his last shift and fled to the United States with his family.

What did him in after almost 20 years of living on the run under a series of false identities? His son, Lee, who apparently couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Lee, who the story says had been trained to lie in order to protect his family, just couldn’t do it and “repeatedly shared his most carefully guarded secret, one so unbelievable that for years no one took him at his word.” Finally, one night, Lee’s wife called his bluff and, when all was said and done, Edward Maher ended  up behind bars.

The next story that got me thinking came from Daniel Negreanu, who posted a new video blog today. Negreanu spends most of his time talking about fairly mundane topics – his upcoming trips to Brazil and Ireland, his health, etc. However, in the last few minutes, he comes back to one of his favorite topics – bashing Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and Ray Bitar over the Full Tilt Poker scandals.

Specifically, Negreanu reiterates how he thinks each man should suffer some old-school Vegas justice for their roles in the downfall of FTP. Why the venom, aside from the fact that Negreanu simply hates Howard, Chris, and Ray? According to him, it’s because they have continually dissed the poker community by failing to speak out in any kind of meaningful way about what happened in the final days of FTP, and on why the site has been unable to pay its players back. In Negreanu’s words, their continued silence on the matter makes them look guilty.

While I personally hate to agree with Negreanu on anything, I do have to admit that Tilt’s handling of the funds shortfalls after Black Friday has been incredibly poor, if not shameful. Still, I understand why Ray, Howard, and Chris have failed to speak out publicly.

As officers and board members for the company, Ray, Howard, and Chris are in very tough legal situations. Even if criminal charges against them fail to move forward, there are all sorts of civil penalties and lawsuits hanging over their heads in the wake of FTP’s demise. Speaking on the record, no matter how much they want to, just doesn’t make any sense since anything they say will undoubtedly come back to haunt them somewhere down the line.

Does this mean I’m excusing Full Tilt for its behavior both before and after Black Friday? Not at all. The company – through an official spokesperson or attorney – should have come clean long ago. It’s obvious to everyone that something shady was going on behind closed doors in Dublin and Tilt owes its players an apology along with a detailed explanation of what went wrong.

As for Chris, Ray, and Howard? It would be nice for at least one (if not all) of them to come clean about what they knew and when they knew it, but realistically, that’s not going to happen until the legal dust has settled and their fates have been decided. Sure, their continued silence makes them look guilty right now – and maybe they are – but with the very real consequences they face in a court of law, I can see why they’re willing to stay quiet and get lynched in the court of public opinion.

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