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Shannon Soroka Gets 13-Year Sentence for Darren Elias Home Evasion

A New Jersey judge has handed down a 13-year prison sentence to Shannon M. Soroka, the man arrested following the armed home invasion of elite poker pro Darren Elias’s home last March. Soroka, 2, of Philadelphia, was arrested following his invasion of Elias’s Medford Township (NJ) home, during which Soroka threatened Elias’s two-year-old son and a 19-year-old babysitter who were present during the crime.

The babysitter’s escape from the house, via the window of a locked basement bathroom, resulted in Soroka’s quick arrest. Soroka had threatened to shoot the babysitter while holding a gun against her back and demanding to know where Elias had hid his valuables. Authorities responded quickly after the unidentified babysitter escaped to a neighbor’s house and received assistance. The would-be robber, who believed Elias to have a large amount of cash at his residence, was initially charged with robbery, aggravated assault, making terroristic threats, unlawful possession of a weapon, and criminal mischief.

In July, Soroka reached a plea deal with Burlington County (NJ) prosecutors, in which he pled guilty to charges of:

  • Robbery (First Degree)
  • Burglary (Second Degree)
  • Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Second Degree)

The remaining charges were dismissed under the deal. Nonetheless, presiding judge James J. Morley, J.S.C. slapped the hefty 13-year sentence on Soroka, who himself was known to have frequented Philadelphia-area cardrooms and who was surely envious of the Philadelphia-based Elias’s poker success. There was no public indication as to whether Soroka actually knew Elias in person. Under the sentencing terms set down by Judge Morley, Sioroka must serve 11 years of the 13-year prison term before being eligible for parole.

Soroka was arrested near the scene of the March 31, 2019 break-in and was arraigned the following day. Investigators soon determined that Soroka had “accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in gambling and drug debts, and entered the home with the hope of finding money.”

“We admire the courage displayed by the victim and her determination to protect the child under her care,” said Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina. “This is one of the most frightening situations anyone could encounter, and I commend the investigators who identified and quickly apprehended this dangerous defendant.” A prosecutor’s office press statement also credited the Medford Township Police Department, with assistance from the New Jersey State Police, for conducting the investigation.

The crime was the latest in a slow-but-steady string of forceful robbery attempts targeting well-known and believed-to-be-wealthy poker players that has stretched all through the game’s history. Elias was fortunate to not be at home when the invasion occurred, and his young son and the heroic babysitter were likewise fortunate to escape serious harm. If nothing else, the incident can serve as an advisory to wealthy players to keep bankroll funds on deposit at frequented cardrooms, or to use electronic banking to keep from having to travel — or keep in one’s home — large amounts of currency.

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