John Campos and Chad Elie, two of 11 people charged with violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, have entered guilty pleas for aiding in payment processing for offshore online poker site operators. The payment processor operators were the last remaining charged individuals to enter a guilty plea for charges stemming from the April 15th indictments. Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected both multiple motions for dismissal from both men and upheld the charges ranging from violation of the UIGEA and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. As PokerUpdate recently reported, a highly anticipated trial was set for April 9th, however both men have reached plea agreements in their respective cases and will avoid a day in court.
Chad Elie, a 32-year old part owner of SunFirst Bank in Utah, was charged with violating the UIGEA as well as conspiracy to launder money. The Nevada resident entered a plea agreement with the government that will ultimately lead to a 6 month to 1 year prison sentence as well as loss of $500,000 and various financial interests. According to the Wall Street Journal, Elie admitted to opening bank accounts to facilitate transactions for offshore poker operators such as FullTilt and PokerStars and falsely labeling them as accounts for “unrelated e-commerce business.” The plea agreement avoids a major trial that was set for April 9th after a rejected motion for dismissal by both Elie and Campos.
In September 2009, Elie approached charged vice-chairman Campos, about processing payments for internet poker transactions at SunFirst Bank. At the time, payment processing was becoming more difficult for the offshore online poker operators. Campos agreed to process these payments in exchange for a $10 million investment into SunFirst Bank.
John Campos, a 58-year old former vice-chairman of SunFirst Bank in Utah, was charged with accepting a cash infusion in return for processing online poker transactions. Campos was one of the last remaining individual to enter a guilty plea stemming from the alleged violations of UIGEA. Forbes Magazine reported that Campos entered a last minute plea agreement with the government to a single misdemeanor charge. Like the Elie case, the plea agreement ultimately avoids a major battle in court and allows the government to focus the attention on the larger issues of the UIGEA crackdown – particularly with regards to the case against PokerStar’s Scheinberg and Full Tilt’s Bitar.
After nearly a year post Black Friday, the case against the charged individuals still carries on in the midst of the Full Tilt debacle and the legislative efforts in the United States. The US government anticipates that the case against offshore online poker operators such as Bitar and Scheinberg will be more difficult. Federal prosecutors have confirmed guilty pleas from 7 of the 11 indicted individuals in the government’s crackdown on online poker.