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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Judge Refuses to Accept John Campos Guilty Plea

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According to U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan refused to accept a guilty plea from John Campos, a former Utah Banker. Kaplan wants prosecutors to explain - in writing - why the guilty plea was in exchange for a misdemeanor bank gambling charge and not a felony.

"You're basically walking away from the prosecution?" Kaplan asked. Campos admitted that $200 million in gambling proceeds from late 2009 to last year had been processed through the bank he was part owner of and served as vice chairman of the board of directors. Kaplan was concerned about the severity of the outcome and said he will decide whether or not to accept the plea at sentencing on June 27th.

Charges have been brought against a dozen or so individuals in the prosecution that closed the U.S. facing side of operations of the big three internet poker sites PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. Of those individuals charged, about half are considered fugitives and the rest have entered pleas to charges.

SunFirst Bank in St. George, Utah began processing gambling funds after PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker promised to invest $10 million in the bank according to Campos’ plea. Frederick Hafetz, Campos’ lawyer, relayed the message from Campos that he did not believe the investment was in return for processing gambling proceeds.

Chad Elie was a co-defendant with Campos and the government has said that Elie persuaded Campos to let the bank process foreign based online poker sites money transactions. Elie pleaded guilty on Monday and is awaiting sentencing.

According to U.S. Attorney Andrew Goldstein, if Campos pleaded guilty to a felony, he would face the stipulated sentencing range of up to six months in prison and Campos was now banned from future job with banking institutions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown acknowledged there were trial risks hence the deal given to Campos – gambling outlet representatives had given Campos legal opinions and it might not be illegal to process money transactions for internet poker sites. "There would be a risk that a jury on that basis could have a problem," said Devlin-Brown.

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