Federal prosecutors played “Let’s Make a Deal” with John Campos, former vice-chairman of a Utah bank and the last remaining money man scheduled to fight the government’s online poker case in a trial set to get under way April 9.
Campos is alleged to have accepted a cash infusion in return for handling online poker transactions. Although initially charged with a felony, he agreed to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge.
This deal between Campos avoids a trial that might have impacted the government’s case against the indicted PokerStars’ founder Isai Scheinberg and Full Tilt Poker’s Ray Bitar, although the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan refused to comment.
Another payment processor, Chad Elie, pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiring to commit bank fraud and operating an illegal gambling business. He will forfeit his interest in more than $25 million in payment processing accounts and pay an additional $500,000 to the feds.
Led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown, the feds extracted guilty pleas from seven of the 11 individuals indicted as part of the government’s Black Friday crackdown. Allowing a Campos to cop a misdemeanor plea suggests the government wants to avoid a trial.
The reason might have something to do with the government’s position that online poker violates US Law. After all, both sides filed detailed motions with the court, and federal judge Lewis Kaplan refused to dismiss any of the government’s charges filed against Campos and Elie, setting the stage for the April trial. One of the last motions filed asked that the question of whether poker was a game of chance—and therefore gambling—be put before a jury, but Kaplan never ruled on that request.
The feds can now turn their attention to Isai Scheinberg and Ray Bitar, although neither of them is in the United States. I still don’t know why the feds are not chasing down Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer as part of this case. I’m not a lawyer, but it’s clear to me that the practices of our legal system and the concept of justice are quite often misaligned … to say the least.