Stars sued over poker winnings
Spider-Man star Tobey Maguire and other celebrities have been caught in a web of lawsuits seeking to reclaim more than four million dollars (£2.5m) won during unlicensed poker games at plush Beverly Hills hotels, court records show.
The lawsuits were filed by a bankruptcy trustee attempting to recoup money for investors who were duped in a Ponzi - pyramid - scheme.
The legal actions claim the clandestine Texas Hold 'em matches were played between 2006 and 2009, and that card players won hundreds of thousands of dollars from Bradley Ruderman, architect of the Ponzi scheme.
Maguire is being sued for 311,000 dollars (£194,300) plus interest. In all, 22 people have been sued to try to recoup money.
Among them was Nick Cassavetes, director of The Notebook. The trustee is attempting to recover nearly 73,000 dollars (£45,600) plus interest from the actor-director.
His lawyer, Ronald Richards, said Cassavetes engaged in no wrongdoing and may try to settle the case for a reduced amount or fight it on the basis that the money cannot be reclaimed. The lawsuit cites only one 2007 game in which Cassavetes was involved.
He was sued along with others who received a cheque from Ruderman. However, the matches were not documented, so it was unclear if Ruderman lost the money himself or was paying for another player, Mr Richards said.
"The theory that is being advanced by the trustee is what we call a novel or original theory," he added.
Maguire's lawyer Robert Barta did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment but was expected to file a response to the suit later this week.