The weekend’s surprising emergence of Chad Elie, one of eight “Black Friday” criminal defendants, has shed considerable light on the processing scheme and connections that allowed the ill-fated SunFirst Bank operation, out of St. George, Utah, to run from late 2009 until April 2011.
Court documents recently procured by this author suggest that the SunFirst operation was doomed to shutdown anyway, because of the involvement of telemarketing mega-fraudster Jeremy Johnson, though the biggest mystery of all remains how Johnson and his immediate network of business associates avoided being charged in the Black Friday case, when Elie, SunFirst banker John Campos and others were.
Johnson remains in jail on separate charges connected to the Federal Trade Commission’s $275 million action against Johnson in early 2010. However, most of the proceeds of the processing operation went to Johnson’s group, much of it via secondary theft, and it was Johnson himself who paid the $20,000 bribe to Campos which led to Campos being charged.
It’s a curious mess. A direct synopsis of how the Elie / Johnson / SunFirst connection came about was published at pokerfuse today, authored by yours truly, but KAP fans, don’t despair — we’ll be publishing, right here, some court transcripts which detail some of the most bizarre business activities I’ve ever encountered.
I’ve also asked an open question of Elie, with whom I’ve communicated on Twitter and in e-mails, to see if he can remember how the specific processing entity associated with Full Tilt came to be incorporated as “Powder Monkeys LLC”. There just has to be a story behind that one.
Elie, for his part, has come out with guns blazing in advance of his reporting to federal prison on January 3rd, 2013, for a five-month sentence. Elie, who reached an agreement with DOJ prosecutors, wasn’t sentenced for UIGEA violations, but rather for a weirdly technical form of bank fraud and for separate violations of a lesser known statute called the Internet Gambling Business Act (IGBA).
When Twitter posters asked him about that, Elie was quite candid, responding, “I took a plea because I was ‘in fact guilty’. I didn’t process credit cards, so therefore I did not ‘miscode’.”
That acknowledgment has not stopped Elie from bashing those connected to him in the SunFirst operation. The very first bomb lobbed by Elie went at Howard Lederer, who has denied ever meeting any payment processors in his “Lederer Interviews” appearances.
Elie debuted on Twitter by posting, “’I never met with a payment processor’-Howard Lederer. Interesting Howard,do you not remember the MEETINGS we had?What about NYE?5hr meeting”
It appears Elie met with Lederer on multiple occasions, too, as he quickly posted a series of photos showing he, Lederer, Sen. Harry Reid, Ray Bitar, and several Poker Players Alliance bigwigs at a 2010 fundraiser or political event, which appears to have been held at the Golden Nugget, judging by the pics.
Here’s Lederer with Reid and PPA head John Pappas, as published by Elie:
But it gets far, far more strange. Elie, posted, then subsequently deleted, a Twitter post mentioning that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff “signed off” on the SunFirst processing. Shurtleff has many ties to the mega-fraudster, Jeremy Johnson, as these pics, originally published on the Facebook site of another of Shurtleff’s friends, show.
Here’s Shurtleff posing with Johnson outside one of Johnson’s four baby helicopters, and the accumulation of such assets by Johnson is another story we’ll be exploring:
Here’s Shurtleff posing inside Johnson’s prized yellow Lamborghini:
And here’s Shurtleff and Johnson inside Johnson’s jet, the same one in the background as the previous picture:
Shurtleff may well be America’s most scurrilous state’s Attorney General, who’s been accused of selling “fire insurance” to many of Utah’s entrenched and highly suspect telemarketing operations, accepting donations in exchange for not cracking down with fines and prosecutions against those same firms’ questionable operations. Shurtleff, currently in his fourth term as Utah AG, has announced he won’t be seeking a fifth.
Shurtleff seems quite the bizarre spectacle, too, noted outside his crooked AG and business circles for his authorship of Am I Not a Man, described by the Salty Droid blog as the tale of Dred Scott as told by a white Mormon who can’t write.
Yeah, that’s an alternate reality whose cover I won’t be cracking.