Chad Elie! Those two words bring up Black Friday, online poker site lockdown, player's funds trapped, Sunfirst Bank, jail time, plea agreement, and much more. Elie's back in the news as reported by Forbes.com's Nathan Vardi yesterday.
If Elie isn't on your radar when news leaks on him, you aren't an online poker player or interested in what's going on with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and apparently haven’t paid attention to the feds in their search-out-and-destroy mission against everything and everyone that just wanted to play a little online poker.
Elie is now serving jail time and filed a lawsuit against his former lawyer for professional malpractice this week. Elie claims he was misled about the legalities of processing poker by the lawyer because the lawyer was 'pocketing rich commissions' and Elie paid him $4 million which included $1 million in commission payment from Elie's payments processing company. The lawyer? Jeff Ifrah.
“Ifrah hid critical documentation,” the lawsuit claims. Ifrah gave Elie “wrong advice regarding poker processing so that he could make a windfall from Elie, Full Tilt Poker and Pokerstars.”
Elie's claim continues: Ifrah was receiving $100,000 per month from 21 Debit for his commission on procuring deals with the banks that processed poker transactions.
Ifrah has not seen the complaint and declined to comment on the lawsuit.
When the DoJ's crackdown on internet poker hit on Black Friday, 11 people were charged and some of the biggest online poker sites were shutdown to U.S. players -- PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, UB and Absolute Poker. Elie was one of those 11 people and he pleaded guilty last year to charges of conspiring to commit bank fraud and operating an illegal gambling business. Elie struck a plea agreement just as Daniel Tzvetkoff was going to testify in the trial of John Campos and Elie. Elie received a five-month sentence and was really unhappy with his sentence...actually, quite furious about the sentence when he found out that he would be incarcerated in the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center.
"I kept our freedoms open, and now I get to go to PRISON with rapist and murders." from Elie's Twitter account.
Judge Kaplan who presided over Elie's case asked for other arrangements for him and Elie changed his tune:
BlackFridayChad Chad Elie
The Judge in my case postponed my reporting date to end of January. He does not want me in Maximum Security Prison. #JudgeKaplan 2013-01-02
Ifrah provided testimony and information against Elie and others to avoid being indicted. According to Elie, Ifrah did not disclose to government lawyers that he received commission payments when he assisted Elie in getting poker payment processing accounts with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.
Elie retained Ifrah back in 2009 and at the time Ifrah was working with PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Sun First Bank in Utah. Elie was looking for information regarding the legalities of processing financial transactions that were related to online poker according to the complaint that was filed. Elie claims Ifrah encouraged him to process transactions for poker companies that Ifrah introduced Elie to and Ifrah was receiving a financial benefit from PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Elie.
Elie is serving out his five-month prison sentence in Taft, California, in a federal jail and is expected to be released at the end of June.
For more information, visit forbes.com.