Campos And Elie Plead Guilty, Avoid Trial


Posted by on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

John Campos and Chad Elie, payment processors charged in the Black Friday allegations that forever changed online poker, have pled guilty for their roles in facilitating financial transactions between poker players and the indicted poker sites of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker.

Elie was looking at up to 85 years in the slammer on nine separate charges, including conspiring to launder money and violating the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). In copping a guilty plea to only one conspiracy count, Elie will most likely serve just one year in prison when the judge sentences him on Oct. 3, 2012. Elie was also forced to pay $500,000 and forfeit more than $25 million in bank accounts that were tied to payment processing transactions, Forbes reported.

John Campos, in his role as vice chairman of the now defunct SunFirst Bank in Utah, had been charged with six counts, but was able to plead guilty to a lone misdemeanor charge, avoiding an April 9 trial date that was fast approaching.

A total of 11 individuals and three poker sites were charged in the Black Friday indictments by the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York. Elie and Campos bring the number of guilty pleas to six, as they joined payment processors Bradley Franzen, Ira Rubin and Ryan Lang, as well as Absolute Poker’s co-founder Brent Beckley, in working out deals with prosecutors.

In allowing Elie to admit to only one felony charge and Campos to plead guilty to just one misdemeanor, it is obvious that federal prosecutors also were interested in avoiding a trial. Industry observers believe that going to trial could have had far-reaching consequences on the U.S. government’s case against the founders of Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars.

The government will now focus their attention on the prosecution of PokerStars’ founder Isai Scheinberg, as well as Ray Bitar, one of Full Tilt Poker’s founders. Bitar recently apologized to the poker community and Full Tilt players who still have not been reimbursed their account balances on the dormant site. His apology came 11 months following the indictments, which many players posting on public poker forums felt was much too late.

Recent industry rumors have been floating around stating that the sale of Full Tilt Poker to Group Bernard Tapie is nearly finalized, which would reportedly mean that players would see their funds. Players from Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet, who together make up the CEREUS Network, are still awaiting word on whether or not reimbursement will be forthcoming. PokerStars is the only site to have emerged from the Black Friday charges in good standing, as they have paid all U.S. players and continue to dominate the online poker industry in player traffic.


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