- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - An attorney for director Nick Cassavetes says there was nothing improper about a 2007 poker game that sparked a lawsuit over winnings by his client.

Attorney Ronald Richards said Wednesday he will either seek to resolve the nearly $73,000 claim against Cassavetes for a lower amount or fight the case.

Cassavetes is among several celebrities, including “Spider-Man” actor Tobey Maguire, who have been sued in Los Angeles bankruptcy court.

The legal actions claim the poker matches were played between 2006 and 2009, and that card players won hundreds of thousands of dollars from Bradley Ruderman, architect of a Ponzi scheme.

The lawsuits aim to recoup more than $4 million invested in the scheme.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

“Spider-Man” star Tobey Maguire and other celebrities have been caught in a web of lawsuits seeking to reclaim more than $4 million won during unlicensed poker matches at upscale 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 scheme.

The legal actions claim the clandestine Texas Hold `em matches were played between 2006 and 2009, with some of the money taken in the Ponzi scheme used to pay off debts incurred by its architect, Bradley Ruderman.

Maguire is being sued for $311,000 plus interest that the lawsuit says was won from Ruderman. In all, 22 people have been individually sued to try to recoup money.

Among them was Nick Cassavetes, director of “The Notebook.” The trustee is attempting to recover nearly $73,000 plus interest from the actor-director.

Maguire’s attorney, Robert Barta, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment but was expected to file a response to the suit later this week. Cassavetes‘ agent Jeff Berg also did not immediately respond to a phone message.

Also being sued is billionaire businessman Alec Gores, who along with his brother attempted to buy Miramax Films last year.

Gores is being sued for $445,500. Phone message left for Frank Stefanik, a spokesman at The Gores Group, and his attorney, Patricia Glaser, were not immediately returned.

Ruderman was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison earlier this year after pleading guilty to two counts of wire fraud, two counts of investment adviser fraud and willful failure to file taxes.

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