03/29/2012 : COMPLICATIONS ON CAMPOS GUILT PLEA (Update)
New York judge wants an explanation for DoJ accepting guilt pleas…and the prosecution appears to have doubts about winning.
One of the Black Friday indictees, John Campos, expecting to enter a guilty plea before a New York judge Wednesday found that complications have arisen.
Associated Press reported that the US government's plan to avoid a trial in its prosecution of Black Friday defendants hit a speed bump when Judge Lewis A. Kaplan refused to immediately accept a guilty plea, saying he needed to know why the government was ‘walking away from the case.’
Judge Kaplan ordered the prosecution to report in writing why they have agreed a plea bargain that would see Campos convicted of a misdemeanour charge rather than a felony.
"You're basically walking away from the prosecution?" Kaplan asked, noting that he has the power to reject the plea deal reached this week between the government and Campos.
The judge questioned the severity of the outcome after Campos admitted that the bank where he served as vice chairman of its board of directors and a part owner had processed $200 million in gambling proceeds between late 2009 and last year.
The judge said he'll decide whether to accept the plea at a June 27 sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Goldstein explained that the stipulated sentencing range of up to six months in prison was about what Campos would face if he pleaded guilty to a felony. The DoJ official pointed out that the government had succeeded in banning the 57-year-old Campos from future jobs with banking institutions.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown told the judge that the deal given Campos was also an acknowledgement that there were trial risks, especially after people working on behalf of the gambling companies had given Campos legal opinions suggesting that it might not be illegal to process the money for Internet gambling companies.
"There would be a risk that a jury on that basis could have a problem," Devlin-Brown said, in an apparent admission that he had doubts about a successful outcome for the prosecution.
During his plea, Campos admitted that SunFirst Bank, based in St. George, Utah, began processing gambling proceeds after two gaming companies, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, promised to invest $10 million in his bank. He said through his lawyer that he did not believe the investment was in return for the processing of gambling proceeds.
The government said co-defendant Chad Elie (who has already entered a guilty plea) persuaded Campos to let his bank process money for the foreign-based online poker sites. The men were supposed to stand trial together. Elie pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge earlier this week and is awaiting sentencing