03/27/2012 : US POKER MONEY PROCESSOR FOLDS HIS CARDS
Black Friday indictee Elie cops a plea…and agrees to forfeit his interest in more than $25 million
Chad Elie (32), a former e-cash processor caught up in the Black Friday indictments against online poker sites unexpectedly folded his cards Monday, pleading guilty in a New York court prior to appearing on April 9, where he was expected to put up a spirited defence.
The recent news that erstwhile Australian e-processor Daniel Tzvetkoff has surfaced and would give evidence for the state may have been a contributing factor in Elie's decision.
Following his plea, sentencing will be handed down on October 3, when Elie could face up to six to twelve months imprisonment; in the meantime he remains at liberty on $250,000 bail.
His guilty plea leaves his fellow accused, former bank executive John Campos, standing alone, with federal prosecutors already indicating that they are in discussions with his lawyers and will know by Wednesday if he will go to trial.
Elie and Campos were the only Black Friday defendants headed to trial after others among the eleven people charged in the Internet gambling-associated case either reached plea agreements or remained fugitives.
Las Vegas-based Elie pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy that he served as a “payment processor” for the poker companies named on Black Friday, and lied to U.S. banks about the nature of the financial transactions they were processing.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan successfully pressed Elie to admit that his conduct was wrong and he knew it.
As part of his plea, Elie agreed to forfeit $500,000 he earned as a result of the scheme, along with his interest in more than $25 million held in various payment processing accounts, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Goldstein told the court.
Elie is not the first to enter a plea – Absolute Poker co-founder, Brent Beckley, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in December
Legal observers noted that Elie's capitulation is one of the most significant legal developments in the Black Friday prosecutions since federal prosecutors cracked down on Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker and Cereus almost a year ago.
He was to have been represented in the looming legal battle by former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, with the April 9 scheduled trial date widely seen as a test case that may have had wide-reaching consequences and impact the government’s case against other Black Friday defendants.