In April 2013, former internet poker payment processor Chad Elie filed a lawsuit against one of his former attorneys claiming that he would not have been incarcerated had he known certain facts. Elie filed the suit against gaming attorney Jeff Ifrah and his firm, alleging Ifrah had withheld legal opinions that processing for online poker was illegal. In the complaint, Elie said had he known these opinions existed, he would have ceased processing. The complaint also alleged that Ifrah’s firm collected commissions from that continued processing, and that the attorney provided testimony to the U.S. Attorneys office against Elie, which resulted in the processor being indicted on what is known as internet poker’s “Black Friday”, April 15, 2011. No offers of proof were included in the complaint.
Following his indictment, Elie spent a year preparing for trial to fight the charges, but changed his plea to guilty just days before the trial was to have begun. As part of his plea agreement, Elie surrendered $ 500,000. and received a 5 month prison sentence. He was released last May.
None of the allegations in the complaint were made by Elie prior to its filing and the complaint was amended several times. After having been moved to Federal Court, the case was before Judge James C. Mahan. After months of review, Mahan dismissed all the charges against Ifrah citing the fact that Elie swore at his sentencing that he knew his actions were illegal and that none of his conduct had relied on any advice of counsel.
Jeff Ifrah offered the following statement exclusively to Diamond Flush Poker:
“While it was incredibly disappointing that a former client would make such wild allegations against me and my firm, one positive outcome is that it gave me a first-hand understanding of what defendants go through when facing irrational, false and highly defamatory charges, including what it takes to emerge victorious. The experience has further reinforced my resolve to defend the innocent and advocate against predatory accusers like Elie and their attorneys.”
Diamond Flush Poker contacted the attorney for Mr. Elie, Sigal Chattah, but has at publication time, received no comment. The article will be updated if a comment is forthcoming.