In a story that was just a matter of time coming, indicted payment processor Chad Elie pleaded guilty earlier today to a single count of conspiracy in connection with the Black Friday indictments handed down on April 15th, 2011. Elie was one of 11 defendants indicted on that day as well as online sites PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker.
Elie admitted that he served as a payment processor for online poker sites and also lied to banks about the purpose of the transactions. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan asked Elie point blank, “You are pleading guilty because you are guilty?” Elie replied with “Yes, your honor. I know that my conduct was wrong.”
By pleading guilty to the single conspiracy charge, Elie could potentially serve up to five years in prison. However, he is much more likely to receive between six months to a year in prison. According to the terms of his plea agreement, he will not try and seek a sentence other the likely sentence. In addition, Elie will forfeit $500,000 that he earned as part of his payment processing duties.
Elie will be sentenced on October 3rd of this year and remains free on $250,000 bond. Elie was scheduled to go to trial on April 9th with John Campos. With Elie’s plea deal, the likelyhood of Campos going to trial is unlikely. If you remember, the two have filed multiple motions ranging from challenging the legality of the UIGEA to having a jury determine the legal status of poker. As each motion was denied, the latest plea bargain was just a matter of time.
Elie is the fifth Black Friday defendant to plead guilty. Brent Beckley, the co-owner of Absolute Poker, as well as payment processors Ira Rubin, Ryan Lang, and Bradley Franzen all have pled guilty previously. Beckley will be the first to find out his fate with sentencing scheduled for April 19th.