Second Black Friday defendant John Campos pleads guilty

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Mar 28, 2012 Posted in Legal Poker News, Online Poker News | No Comments »

Just a day after Chad Elie changed his plea from Innocent to Guilty, on one-count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud in a deal with prosecutors, his co-defendant, John Campos, did likewise. The former bank Vice President who was one of 11 individuals indicted last April plead guilty to a single misdemeanor count according to Nathan Vardi of Forbes.com.

The two represent the last of the payment processors and banking executives that were part of the roundup; the remaining individuals that were indicted on what came to be known as Black Friday are all owners and CEO’s of the online poker sites themselves; none of whom have been taken into custody. All of the remaining currently live abroad and in areas where the local government is either refusing to get involved or does not feel extradition is valid due to the peculiar nature of the crimes –online poker is a legal activity where they reside.

Both Elie and Campos were taken into custody soon after the indictments were unsealed on April 15, 2011, and in a number of pre-trial hearing have professed their innocence, running through a litany of different defenses including the attempt to get the case dismissed on the grounds that poker is a game of skill and therefore doesn’t fall under the UIGEA umbrella –the judge in the case thought differently, and since the two men’s alleged transgressions went far beyond UIGEA violations (bank fraud and conspiracy to name just two or the nine counts they faced) the motion was denied.

Both men were set to face trial in early April, and seemed ready to defend themselves against the government. However, last week prosecutors in the case added a mountain of new evidence (an estimated 90,000 personal documents) and a witness to the rolls: Daniel Tzvetkoff. Tzvetkoff was a payment processor who processed over $1 billion for online poker companies according to some reports and worked with both Elie and Campos in processing Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars payments.

Tzvetkoff ran afoul of the online poker industry after purportedly stealing $100 million from the sites, and was arrested in 2010 during a trip to Las Vegas after anonymous tips led authorities to Tzvetkoff’s location. It was rumored that soon after being arrested Tzvetkoff cut a deal with prosecutors and disappeared into the Witness Protection Program. Now Tzvetkoff is back, this time in the form of the government’s star witness, and with his pile of 90,000 documents including personal communications between himself and Elie and Campos.

Tzvetkoff is considered the tipping point in the government’s assault on online poker companies, as his arrest is seen as the start of the government’s crackdown that culminated on Black Friday. Amazingly, the rumors in the poker world are that it was some of the top poker players (who also owned percentages of some of the online poker sites Tzvetkoff stole from) that turned him in.

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