Black Friday defendant Chad Elie enters guilty plea

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Mar 27, 2012 Posted in Legal Poker News, Online Poker News | No Comments »

Apparently the recent turning over of some 90,000 documents by former online poker payment processor Daniel Tzvetkoff was enough to make Chad Elie rethink his plea and change it from innocent to guilty. Elie is one of two men indicted on Black Friday who was set to stand trial on the coming weeks on charges of bank fraud, conspiracy and violations of UIGEA, but Elie has now decided to change his initial plea to guilty according to Bloomberg.

Elie and his fellow defendant John Campos were both staunchly claiming their innocence until Tzvetkoff came forward as a witness and handed over 90,000 documents including personal E-Mails between himself and Elie and Campos.

According to Bloomberg News, Elie plead guilty to just one of the nine charges he was facing, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carries a far lighter sentence of up to 5-years in prison, but under the terms of his plea bargain Elie will serve only 6-12 months behind bars according to the Bloomberg article; Elie also agreed to forfeit $500,000 he received while processing online poker payments. Had Elie been convicted on all counts he faced a potential sentence of decades behind bars.

When asked by the judge Elie stated, “Yes, your honor, I know that my conduct was wrong.” Elie is now scheduled to be sentenced on October 3rd, 2012. His co-defendant John Campos has until April 9th to change his plea or he will have to stand trial on multiple charges.

Tzvetkoff is considered the genesis of the government’s online poker crackdown that came to be known as Black Friday. After processing up to a billion dollars in online poker payments for Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, Tzvetkoff allegedly stole some $100 million from these companies, and was allegedly turned in by some of the owners of these sites when he was spotted in Las Vegas.

Soon after being arrested Tzvetkoff disappeared, entering the Witness Protection Program, and has been working with law enforcements to create a case against the three largest US facing online poker rooms at the time, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and their sister site UB Poker, and PokerStars.

Now it appears Tzvetkoff has even more to say, as he was scheduled to be a witness in the trial against Elie and Campos, which was apparently enough motivation for Chad Elie to change his plea, and enter a plea bargain with prosecutors which likely requires him to turn state’s evidence against the other 10 men indicted on Black Friday, many of whom have yet to be taken into custody as they live abroad.

Most of the indicted individuals still at large are the owners of the poker rooms, including PokerStars founder Isia Scheinberg, Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar, and Scott Tom the founder and CEO of Absolute Poker.

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