It’s being reported that Toby Maguire is being sued for the return of $300,000 which he is said to have won at an illegal poker game in Beverley Hills, the loser having allegedly embezzled the cash. (It’s the cheated investors who are suing).
What is the general legal position here? If I win big in a game am I on the hook if it turns out the guy I won from wasn’t gambling with his own money? Seems a little off, surely the loser is the person who should bear all the responsibility, not me.
The fact that the poker game was illegal is probably the key fact here. If Toby obtained the money in a legal setting, then he would be fine. However, since he won the money illegally, the loser still has a claim on it. (In other words, the loser can still say the win was illegal and he’s owed his money back). Since the person doing the suing has (or at least is asserting) a claim on the loser’s money, the claim “passes through.” Toby owes the loser, the loser owes the suer, but the courts will let Toby pay the suer directly.
But let’s also not forget that “is suing” is not the same as “has a good case”
Don’t think of it as money. Suppose the guy stole a laptop from his company and lost it in a game/gave it away/sold it. It’s still stolen property and the real owner is allowed to get it back, in theory.
But the same legal theory does not apply to money. I think (as a non-lawyer) that the people trying to recover this have to prove a bit more, e.g., that the poker players know they were getting stolen or embezzled money in the poker game. If the embezzler takes $1,000 to a casino and loses it there, you aren’t going to get that $1,000 back from the casino, because the casino doesn’t know where you got that money from.
So let’s say this suit goes through and McGuire has to give the money back. In effect, they’d be saying “this game was illegal and never took place”. Does that mean anyone who lost money playing poker there could then come forward saying “gimme back the 10 grand I lost”?
I was thinking along similar lines. Because money is fungible, you would need a pretty clear path between the stolen money and the gambling. If money is stolen strictly for the purposes of gambling, or to pay off a gambling debt, you might have a case. If the thief is a frequent gambler who sometimes wins and sometimes loses, you have a harder time proving any particular gambling loss should be considered ‘the’ stolen money.
This case seems pretty clear though. Because the ‘loser’ stole 25 million in a ponzi scheme, it would be easy to conclude that every dollar he spent was stolen.
I think having to give the money back is necessary to prevent some sort of laundering. If they let the winner keep the money then it would be trivially easy for an embezzlement scheme to be hatched that launders the money though illegal gambling!
It’s a law suit not a criminal case. “They” are private lawyers not crime fighters. The poker game was technically illegal but it isn’t being investigated by law enforcement. The FBI investigated him for embezzling $25 million and it turned out he had stolen it to pay his poker debts.
He lost $25 million but they are only suing a few of the winners trying to recoup a portion of the total. The rest walked out the door never to be seen again. The people named in the suit are all high profile celebrities no doubt targeted because they have the means to settle and forget about it just to avoid the scandal.
Hey there are more than 2 people in a poker game. Did all of the $300,000 come from the bad guy? Nobody else put down any cash? How do they know that the money the bad guy used in the game was the same money that he supposedly embezzled? Maybe the embezzled money got spent in something else, and the poker money was from the bank.
There was a case in Canada IIRC of a lowly accountant who embezzled quite a few hundred thousand over a year or two. He was a high roller in Vegas and the casinos used to fly him down, from the news articles. IIRC the bank or whatever was suing to get their money back, saying the casinos must have done a background check and should have known the money was not legitimately his.
I suspect it comes down to the rule about what a “reasonable man” should have known. If you know this guy is a used car salesman or accountant, and he shows up with $25M - you connect the dots.
And how do you know who won what amount and from whom? Money continually moves around a poker table. Did Ben Affleck win money from this guy or from Toby Maguire? Or did he win this guy’s money from Toby Maguire? How much money was his and how much was Toby’s? This is going to end up in a myriad of unanswerable questions.
Had the game occurred in a private home and there was no rake or the like, there would be no case as the game would have been perfectly legal. That it occurred at a business muddies the water. CA state law exempts “Games played with cards in private homes or residences, in which no person makes money for operating the game, except as a player.” As always the devil is in the details but a private poker game is not illegal per se in California