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Judge Declines to Accept Plea Agreement of Black Friday Defendant

Bloomberg is reporting that U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has refused to accept the prosecution’s plea agreement in the case of former SunFirst Bank official John Campos. Campos, a former part-owner and vice-chairman of the Utah bank, along with ten other men was indicted last April in the famed “Black Friday” case against online poker rooms.

The bank executive was indicted for several bank fraud and conspiracy related charges. Campos reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to a misdemeanor banking charge. Judge Kaplan has refused to accept the plea agreement and asked prosecutors for a written explanation for why they are walking away from the case. Campos is the 6th person in the Black Friday indictments to have reached a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown explained to the Associated Press that there are risks with taking the case to trial. He stated that Campos had been advised by experts in the gambling world that told him it was legal for his bank to process online gambling transactions.

Campos would face just a maximum of one year in prison if sentenced under the plea agreement. In the agreement, prosecutors call for a sentence of zero to six months. A June 27th sentencing date has been set during which Judge Kaplan will decide whether or not to accept the plea agreement.

There are two primary explanations why the DOJ has thus far taken it easy on Black Friday defendants. Most likely is that they are worried about losing the case should it go to trial and are thus willing to negotiate “slap on the wrist” plea deals to ensure a guilty conviction. It could also be possible that they are saving their resources and building allies for the targets they really want which are the owners and operators of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker.