Backer Lawsuit Against Maurice Hawkins Comes to Light
An alleged failure to pay back $103,000 to a backer has Florida poker pro Maurice Hawkins in continuing legal difficulty. That’s according to a lawsuit filed in January 2018 and recently publicized by a North Carolina man, Randy Garcia. who allegedly began backing Hawkins in February of 2017. Garcia’s lawsuit against Hawkins asks for a judgment in the amount of the initial $103,000 in backing funds, along with pre-judgment interest and other court costs.
Garcia recently took to social media with a Twitter post he termed a “PSA” (public service announcement) warning people not to do staking business with Hawkins. “PSA no one ever stake @mauricehawkins,” tweeted Garcia. He has owed me $103k for 2 years now. Have proof of him confirming this. Keeps saying to me ‘be patient’ after he has cashed for over $1m yet still refuses to pay. Have filed a lawsuit against him. Please retweet this to help spread the word.” Garcia added a second posting more personally attacking in nature against Hawkins.
Hawkins had already been named publicly in a separate staking dispute involving Tallahassee (FL) attorney Halley B. Lewis. That dispute, involving over $22,000 owed by Hawkins to Lewis, was resolved amicably last June, with Lewis also filing a court statement that the claim against Hawkins was made in error after a series of miscommunications between the two.
Such a friendly settling appears less likely in this matter. Court records located by Flushdraw confirm Garcia’s claims about the civil action, which was initially filed on January 3, 2018 and re-opened exactly one year later. The initial complaint includes text-message images which both detail the initial agreement and seem to show a debt at least as high as $108,000, with Hawkins in markup for more than $40,000. The exhibits attached to the complaint also purport to show Garcia and Hawkins attempting to come to an agreement regarding some sort of long-term payment plan, which if Garcia’s social-media outing is true, never resulted in any backing funds being repaid.
According to the exhibits filed by Garcia, Hawkins texted, “Going to be completely honest. Due to both of our situations. I’m asking if it’s possible to combine the cash I have with what I owe you and if you are able to back me in future. We can start back up. It really only takes one tourney but sometimes life [throws us] a curveball. Either way, I will pay you back along the way. Numbers are as follow when we start back up. Makeup 42,846. Owe you 108,666.”
Despite the seeming acknowledgement of the debt, one of the issues sure to arise, if the matter proceeds to an actual trial, is whether the gambling debt is indeed enforceable.
Hawkins is most famed in poker for being the career ring wins leader on the WSOP’s Circuit tour. Hawkins has won 13 rings, including two this spring, among a hot run of finishes that began in March. It was seemingly this run of success and alleged failure to pay by Hawkins that prompted Garcia to go public with the existence of the lawsuit. Such defaulted-upon backing deals are unfortunately way too common in the poker world, though if true, Hawkins’ situation becomes just the latest of several deals gone sour to be made public in recent months.
Hawkins, who lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, has earned nearly $3.8 million in recorded poker tournaments since 2005, with the vast majority of that total coming in the past decade. Hawkins has been a Circuit regular for many years, with over $2.3 million in lifetime winnings in WSOP-branded events. Garcia also has some poker results, but his lifetime record is considerably more modest.
No trial date has yet been scheduled in this civil matter. The next matters of note in the case docket appear to be subpoenaed depositions of Hawkins and his wife Aprelle that are scheduled for later this month.