Black Friday defendants plea not guilty DOJ responds

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Nov 08, 2011 Posted in Legal Poker News, Online Poker News | No Comments »

Of the 11 people indicted on Black Friday the US Department of Justice has managed to arrest four of the men they named, and two of those men, John Campos and Chad Elie, have already been arraigned and entered not-guilty pleas.

In response to Elie’s and Campos’ assertion that poker is a game of skill and therefore does not fall under UIGEA legislation, the US DOJ Attorney issued a 51-page response outlining why this is incorrect. Forbes.com writer Nathan Vardi (who has been following the Black Friday developments very closely since the outset) outlined the three main reasons the DOJ feels both Elie and Campos (as well as the other indicted individuals on Black Friday) are guilty:

First off, the defendants are not only guilty of violating UIGEA legislation, since they broke numerous other laws in order to skirt the controversial legislations restrictions on monetary transactions to and from online gaming sites. According to Vardi’s article in Forbes everything from shell corporations to falsified payment codes were used, and the DOJ even claimed that Mafioso’s were called in by PokerStars owner Isaia Scheinberg to collect money from Elie at one point.

Secondly, the DOJ is claiming that both Campos and Elie knowingly committed bank fraud, saying that the online poker sites “engaged Elie and Campos, among others, to perform an indispensable service: find ways, by hook or crook, to move money from United States residents, through the United States financial system, to the offshore accounts of the poker companies. They did so in violation of the IGBA (the Illegal Gambling Business Act), the UIGEA and other federal statutes.”

Finally, and perhaps the most troublesome for people who claim that poker DOES NOT fall under UIGEA legislation because it is a game of skill, the DOJ Attorney broke down the language in the bill saying: “the feds claim that Congress did not intend to exclude poker from UIGEA and that if it wanted to do so, lawmakers would have done it in a clearer fashion. Federal prosecutors point out that lawmakers changed the wording of the bill so that it would apply to games “subject to chance” as opposed to “predominantly subject to chance” for this reason.”

If this turns out to be a provable point basically any game with even the most miniscule amount of luck would fall under UIGEA legislation –Backgammon, Bridge, and yes, Poker.

I highly recommend anyone following the Black Friday case to read Vardi’s article (and previous entries on the subject) at Forbes.com.

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