Update 1-23-2013: Sorel Mizzi has now removed all of my content from his websites.
This is Zachary Hart. Also known as Zac, Zekday0, Zekda Art, and in some circles as the “Snake in the Grass”. He owns QuadJacks, and for about 8 months we used to work together. I even considered him a friend.
I did lots of work at QuadJacks. I hosted radio, configured the radio server, did programming and web design, photoshopped graphics, and even taught Zac some of my skills. I did all this for nothing in return. Eventually, I got tired of doing all that free work. One day I told Zac and Marco that I didn’t want to do it anymore and that I was going home. This upset them very much. We talked for hours and hours as I explained why wasn’t I interested in continuing my work at QuadJacks, and that nothing was really going to convince me to stay.
However, Zac did find a way to convince me to stay. He proposed a business partnership. I would put my skills to use to design websites, and he would recruit professional poker players as clients. All profits were to be split 50-50. I was happy with this arrangement, so I stopped doing work for QuadJacks and got busy with the web design business right away.
The first client Zac landed was Sorel Mizzi (aka Imper1um). Zac and Sorel are both Canadian, and apparently have been friends for some time. Sorel was dissatisfied with his tarnished reputation from various cheating scandals. He wanted a personal website that he could control. Ideally people would visit his website when they searched his name on Google instead of this article accusing him of cheating John Racener at chinese poker, or his Wikipedia article that mentions his multi-accounting at Full Tilt.
Zac told me that Sorel had agreed to pay $1,000 for the website, so my cut would be $500. Finally, I was going to get a little money for my hard work! I poured my heart into the project. I grinded away coding the website, creating images, and writing content. I even conducted private Skype interviews with Sorel so that I could write up recaps of his biggest scores. In addition to Sorel’s website, I also created a website for our business and recorded a series of tutorial videos to teach our clients how to maintain their websites.
All in all, I spent over 100 hours working on the business, expecting a decent return. For his part, Zac made some phone calls to poker pros in Vegas. I didn’t mind that I was doing most of the work. I wasn’t interested in shouldering the task of making sales. That’s not my specialty, and I don’t have the connections.
Without going into too much detail, let me just say that Zac is not a very easy guy to get along with. He’s very ambitious, obstinate, outspoken, and at times abusive. This took a toll on me over time, but one night in particular an incident occurred where he said some things to me that I couldn’t tolerate. I decided to dissolve the relationship and return home the very next day. Sorel’s website was 90% complete, but I wasn’t interested in continuing to do business with Zac. I chalked it up as a loss and waste of time, but felt content to go back to Texas and be happier with my life.
As far as I knew, the Sorel Mizzi project was dead. He would just have to find another firm to create his website.
I returned home some time around late February or early March of 2012. I continued making music videos and other projects, and was happy to be on my own and with my family. I never heard back from Sorel or Zac about the website project. A few weeks ago (January 2013), I saw a thread on the 2+2 Messageboards about a recent blog by Sorel Mizzi in which he forgives himself for his past misdeeds. Curious, I clicked on the link and was shocked to see that it was the website that I had built myself from scratch. He launched it in April 2012, just a month after I left.
The first thing I did was contact Sorel. I told him that I read his latest blog and that I was very surprised when I saw the design. He replied that QuadJacks made it for him. I informed him that it was in fact me that designed the website, that Zac had sold it to him without my knowledge or consent, that I had never been paid for the work, and that by using my design and written content on his website that copyright infringement had been committed. I also said that if it were some random person using this on their website, I would have simply filed a DMCA takedown notice, but I was willing to sort things out amicably. He replied that he would talk to Zac about it and get back to me.
I never did hear back from Sorel. I knew that Zac would never pay me the money I’m owed. And because Sorel was apparently unaware that he bought stolen content, I wasn’t going to hassle him to pay me either. So I e-mailed him a DMCA takedown notice and requested that he remove all of my content from his website. As a matter of principle, I couldn’t allow my work to be used without compensation. It sucks for Sorel, but he’d have to settle that with Zac, who screwed him by selling him stolen goods.
Sorel never responded to the DMCA, and both websites (sorelmizzi.ca and sorelmizzi.info) are still up. The next logical step would be to take this to court. As I contemplated this, I mentioned the situation to several people. Todd Wittelles of Poker Fraud Alert caught wind of it, and prank called Sorel on his radio show, playing the character of attorney Alvin Finkelstein.
In that call, Sorel revealed that he did talk to Zac, and that Zac claimed that I am crazy and made the whole thing up. He also mentioned that he paid $3,000 for the website. Apparently Zac intended to screw me from the very beginning. He told me that the deal was for $1,000, so his plan was to pay me $500 and keep the remaining $2,500 for himself. Unbelievable. Sorel also said he felt that he hadn’t done anything wrong, and that he shouldn’t be held responsible for hosting my copyrighted material on his website. From his perspective, this had nothing to do with him and should be settled between me and Zac.
So what happens now? Probably nothing. I accept that I got rolled and that I’ll probably never get compensated for my work. Once again, Zac got the best of me. Maybe I should have known better than to fall for this. Maybe I should have forseen this and taken more steps to protect my work from him. Lesson learned.
As for Sorel Mizzi, I’m not sure how complicit he was in all this. If everything he has said is true, perhaps he’s just a bit naive and doesn’t understand that it’s wrong for him to accept stolen content and host it on his website against my wishes. Or perhaps he believes Zac’s story and thinks I’m a crazy person trying to shake him down for a few thousand dollars.
I’m not writing this as an attempt to get paid or even to gain sympathy. I just want the community to know what sort of a person Zachary Hart of QuadJacks is. This is a man that lies, cheats, and steals to get what he wants. This is a man that will pretend to be your friend and exploit you for personal gain. I don’t think Zac really has any friends; just people that he finds useful. Apparently he is continuing to provide websites for people in the poker community such as Gavin Smith, Matt Stout, and Dr. Ivan Goldsmith. He also has a strange conspiracy theory website called InfoWarsWest. I hope he didn’t trick some poor sap into making those for him free of charge.
If Zach Hart ever approaches you to do business, I warn you to steer clear. I also encourage you to spread the word and warn others, so that they can avoid getting bitten by the Snake in the Grass.