PokerStars Countersues Gordon Vayo, Claims He Forged Documents
PokerStars claims professional poker player Gordon Vayo forged documents to support his online poker lawsuit. PokerStars, the target of Vayo’s $600,000 lawsuit, is now countersuing Gordon Vayo for $280,000 in damages.
Gordon Vayo, runner-up in the 2016 WSOP Main Event, sued PokerStars’ parent company, Rational Entertainment Enterprises Limited (REEL), in May 2018. Vayo claimed the REEL illegally prevented him from collecting $692,000 in winnings from a poker tournament he played in May 2017.
The tournament’s rules said that players could not be inside the United States in order to participate. Gordon Vayo claimed he was in his home country of Canada when he entered the tournament, but REEL claims they tracked Vayo to his home in California — which disqualified him from the event.
Such rules exist because online poker is illegal in California. If PokerStars allowed Gordon Vayo to play from California, they would be guilty of violation of US federal laws — and could have their New Jersey license stripped. Like in the Black Friday case, PokerStars and REEL could face legal consequences from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Vayo: REEL Engaged in a “Pattern of Fraudulent and Unlawful Conduct”
At the time, Vayo’s lawyers claimed that REEL had participated in a “pattern of fraudulent and unlawful conduct”. The poker player claimed REEL accused him of playing inside the USA in order to avoid paying him winnings. In his words, they simply made up charges to void his winnings.
Gordon Vayo submitted into the court records an Internet service provider bills from Bell Canada and bank account statements from First Republic Bank as proof that he was playing online in the tournament from his home in Canada.
Now REEL’s lawyers are hitting back. They claim that Vayo’s lawsuit is based on fraudulent activity itself. REEL presented evidence that the First Republic Bank evidence is a forged bank statement, while the Bell Canada ISP bill that Gordon Vayo submitted to argue his case is also fraudulent.
In a November 12th filing, REEL countersued Gordon Vayo for $280,000 in damages. The filing said, “Plaintiff Gordon Vayo’s (“Vayo”) bad faith conduct in manufacturing and relying on fraudulent, forged evidence in an attempt to deceive the Court and REEL rises to the level of sanctionable misconduct sufficient for this Court to exercise its inherent authority to grant attorneys’ fees.”
Gordon Vayo Drops REEL Lawsuit
Since the Nov. 12 filing, Gordon Vayo has dropped his lawsuit against REEL. In what appears to be a startling admission that REEL’s suit is correct, Vayo’s original lawyer has resigned from the case. REEL’s filing said, “As soon as REEL discovered the forgery and confronted Vayo about it, Vayo voluntarily and unconditionally dismissed this action, and his counsel withdrew.”
REEL said it had received a tip from a third-party that Gordon Vayo had hired a forger to prepare the fraudulent documents for the case. REEL’s lawyers followed up the tip and, in the Nov. 12 court filing, said, “REEL later learned that these documents were forgeries that Vayo had created to defraud REEL.”
The court documents continue:
“Perhaps the most telling sign of forgery: The average daily balance in the original May 2017 bank statement received from the third party is $26,995.21. In Vayo’s version of the statement, however, the average daily balance is $29,995.21 – identical to the penny, except that Vayo’s version flips a 6 to a 9.”
“A change like this — especially when paired with the fact that the amounts in Vayo’s Account Summary do not sync with the amounts in his transaction log — is a clear sign of forgery.”
“A Clear Sign of Forgery”
It is a startling reversal in the lawsuit against PokerStars. As serious as the $280,000 countersuit by REEL and PokerStars is, the underlying charges in the case could prove to be far more threatening for Gordon Vayo. Knowingly submitting forged documents to a US court is fraud, which is a felony in the United States. Such a person could face serious criminal charges.
Stay tuned for a developing story.