Campos initially pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of “causing a bank insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to process illegal gambling transactions” but was rejected by Judge Kaplan on the grounds that he wanted the prosecution to reveal why they had entered the agreement with Campos.
In a letter submitted by US Attorneys Preet Bharara, Arlo Devlin-Brown, and Andrew D. Goldstein, the prosecution urged Judge Kaplan to accept Campos’ plea for the reason that his involvement was “relatively minor” in relation to the other suspects charged in those indictments. They also said that the sentencing and punishment guidelines for the misdemeanor charge were similar to that of the felony charges Campos faced.
Campos was initially looking at five felony charges based on his involvement with illegal payment processing as the vice-chairman of SunFirst Bank. Campos is alleged to have conspired with Chad Elie and Jeremy Johnson to use the bank as a means of processing transactions between poker players and online poker sites in exchange for a $10 million investment in the bank and a bonus for Campos. Elie has already plead out to lesser charges for his role in the conspiracy.
Campos claimed in his plea was that he was convinced by legal opinions given by the poker sites that the process was not illegal. He also claimed that he had no knowledge of issues faced by other companies relating to online gambling transactions. SunFirst Bank processed approximately $200 million in transactions before entering into a consent order with the FDIC to stop.
As part of his plea deal, Campos has agreed to a lifetime ban from the banking industry. He faces a sentencing hearing on June 27th at which he could receive up to six months in prison.
Seven of the 11 individuals named in the indictment filed in US District Court of the Southern District of New York on Black Friday a year ago have pleaded guilty. Chad Elie, an admitted online poker payment processor, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud last month and will receive a relatively short prison stay and a hefty fine.
Elie faced nine counts in the April 15th indictment: three counts of violating Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), conspiracy to violate the UIGEA, three counts of operating an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The 32-year-old Las Vegas man pleaded guilty March 27th in a Manhattan court to the charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
According to Assistant US Attorney Andrew Goldstein, Elie has agreed to turn over $500,000 he made from his payment processing business and forfeit rights to his interest in another $25 million currently held in various payment processing accounts. Additionally, the judge has agreed to stay within the sentencing guidelines of six to 12 months in prison rather than seeking the maximum of five years. Elie is free on a $250,000 bond and is due back in court for sentencing October 3.
An article in Forbes magazine said that the plea deals may have been desired as much by the Feds as they were by Elie and Campos: “The fact that Federal prosecutors agreed to let Campos plead to a misdemeanor indicates that they wanted to avoid a trial that could have had wide-reaching consequences and impacted the Government’s case against the indicted founders of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker."