Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011 | 7:02 p.m.
Eight-time World Series of Poker champion Phil Ivey and two Las Vegas attorneys were sued Tuesday by Ivey’s ex-wife, who says they conspired to cheat her out of her fair share of his fortune.
An attorney for Florida resident Luciaetta Marie Ivey filed suit in U.S. District Court for Nevada against Phil Ivey, Phil Ivey’s attorney David Chesnoff and Luciaetta Ivey’s former attorney John Spilotro.
The complaint, filed by Las Vegas attorney Gary Logan, alleges Spilotro "failed to safeguard the financial interests of his client" and that Spilotro, Chesnoff and Phil Ivey "engaged in a combination and conspiracy" during the Iveys’ divorce proceedings that resulted in Luciaetta Ivey being deprived of her equal share of the couple’s community property.
The lawsuit said that in 2008 alone, Phil Ivey "reported community income in excess of $8 million, yet Spilotro made no effort to trace these funds before allowing his client to enter into a disadvantageous marital settlement agreement."
Messages for comment were left with Spilotro and Chesnoff.
Tuesday’s lawsuit isn’t the only litigation under way involving the Iveys, who were married in May 2002 and were divorced in December 2009.
Luciaetta Ivey, represented by another group of attorneys, about a year after the divorce was finalized "became aware of the anomalies in how her divorce was handled" and sought to reopen the divorce proceedings in June 2011, according to a Nevada Supreme Court filing.
Attorneys for Luciaetta Ivey this summer sought to have Clark County Family Court Judge William Gonzalez disqualified from her case because of donations Phil Ivey and others associated with the case had made to his campaign, but that motion was denied by Chief Clark County District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti.
The ruling by Togliatti is on appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.
In the Supreme Court case, attorneys for Luciaetta Ivey claim that during the initial divorce proceedings, Chesnoff "directed Luciaetta" to hire Spilotro and that Phil Ivey paid Spilotro a flat fee of $10,000.
But Tuesday’s lawsuit claims "at the suggestion and direction of (Phil) Ivey and Chesnoff, plaintiff hired John Spilotro to represent her."
Tuesday’s lawsuit alleges legal malpractice against Spilotro and civil conspiracy against Spilotro, Chesnoff and Phil Ivey.
In the Nevada Supreme Court case, Chesnoff's law firm filed papers Dec. 9 showing that in the divorce Luciaetta received jewelry valued at more than $1 million, a purse collection valued at more than $1.25 million, her car, a life insurance policy, 40 percent of a stock account, a down payment for a new residence, half the proceeds from the sale of a home she and Phil Ivey owned and 40 percent of “all business interests with the exception of Tiltware LLC.”
She was also to receive alimony of $180,000 per month from the funds Phil Ivey received from Tiltware — with reduced or no alimony should Phil Ivey stop receiving funds from Tiltware or see his funds from that company decline.
"Mr. Ivey’s payments from Tiltware have ceased," this month's court filing said, in reference to Ivey and Tiltware being tied up in litigation for a short time this summer after Tiltware’s Full Tilt Poker business was caught up in the federal government crackdown against illegal online poker operations.
Ivey’s suit against Tiltware was dropped one month after it was filed under undisclosed terms. In the suit, Ivey challenged noncompete agreements he had executed with Tiltware before it ran into legal trouble.
The Chesnoff filing also said that Luciaetta and Phil Ivey had contemplated divorce prior to either party hiring an attorney and that Luciaetta enlisted the services of an East Coast friend who is an attorney "to assist her in negotiating directly with Phil Ivey for an uncontested divorce."
The Chesnoff filing said when the divorce was finalized, Luciaetta "acknowledged that she understood that her attorney did not make inquiry into the actual value of her assets" and that "in exchange for Phil assuming tremendous debt, Luciaetta agreed to accept 40 percent of the businesses with the exception of Tiltware."
As for Phil Ivey’s support of Gonzalez, the Chesnoff filing said: "Mr. Ivey exercised a fundamental right in donating to a judicial campaign for a judge that he felt was qualified for the bench at a time when his case had long been closed."
Phil Ivey is a Nevada resident, Tuesday's lawsuit says.