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US Department of Justice Responds to Campos and Elie

In a 50-plus-page response to the pre-trial motions to dismiss by John Campos and Chad Elie, the US Department of Justice has outlined its strategy to prosecute the individuals and companies indicted on Black Friday.

Campos, former vice chairman of SunFirst Bank, and payment processor Chad Elie were charged with 6 and 9 counts, respectively, in the April 15 indictments—including violations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA).

Earlier this autumn the two filed spirited defences against the charges, the first prominent legal challenge of the DOJ’s interpretation of the UIGEA and IGBA. As Forbes’ Nathan Vardi highlighted, Campos and Elie have forced the DOJ to “litigate its case against online poker for the first time.”

In the filing, the DOJ dismissed their arguments that PokerStars and Full Tilt were not gambling businesses: “the conduct alleged in the Indictment – a scheme through which the charged defendants abused the U.S. financial system in order to fund their illegal operations – amounts to clear violations of the statutes charged.”

According to federal prosecutors, online poker sites “engaged Elie and Campos, among others, to perform an indispensable service: find ways, by hook or crook, to move money from United States residents, through the United States financial system, to the offshore accounts of the poker companies. They did so in violation of IGBA, the UIGEA and other federal statutes.”

The colourful highlight of the filing: according to the DOJ, PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg hired an organized crime associate to track down Elie after he stole $4 million from a PokerStars account. Allegedly, Elie returned some of the money and payment processing services with PokerStars resumed soon after.

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