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The United States District Court of Nevada has ruled in favor of defendants Jeff Ifrah and Ifrah Law PLLC in the lawsuit brought by Ifrah’s former client, pre-Black Friday online poker payment processor Chad Elie.
Elie sued Ifrah in April 2013, alleging legal malpractice and blaming Ifrah for Elie’s prosecution and incarceration related to online poker payment processing. Elie essentially claimed that it was due to advice he received from Ifrah Law on the legality of online poker payment processing that he carried on this activity until he was arrested.
Elie was one of the eleven men indicted on Black Friday. In March 2012, he pleaded guilty to bank fraud and began serving five months of a prison sentence later that year.
In his plea allocution (a statement before the court), Elie explicitly admitted that he had carried out his offenses on his own volition, without reliance on counsel, and with the knowledge that what he was doing was criminal.
This key confession would be Elie’s undoing in the lawsuit against Ifrah and his firm. The defendants have consistently responded to Elie’s accusations by pointing out that, by his own admission, Elie had discarded legal advice given to him, opting instead to act with criminal intent.
The court’s acceptance of Ifrah’s argument largely destroyed the rest of Elie’s case.
Elie was seeking damages for his Black Friday indictment, which he tried to argue came as a result of Ifrah’s counsel, but this cannot be demonstrated as long as Elie can be shown to have admitted that he acted on his own criminal accord.
The court repeatedly took this view, and has ordered the entire case to be dismissed.
According to the court document dismissing Elie’s lawsuit, Elie retained Ifrah to represent him in 2009, following a previous payment processing case in which Ifrah and his firm were not involved.
Elie had additionally confessed to acting with criminal intent in this previous case that unfolded before he met and retained Ifrah and the firm’s services.
Shortly after he was sentenced but before he began serving his prison term, Chad Elie publicly shared a series of statements and legal documents meant to embarrass or incriminate others in the Black Friday case, a stunt that gained significant poker media attention.
After his release from prison, he re-emerged as a sponsored pro for the free-to-play online poker site Attack Poker.
Jeff Ifrah and his firm continue to practice law in Washington D.C. The firm still represents PokerStars and other online gaming entities in certain cases.