St. George man arrested for role in gambling scheme

Updated: 4/15 9:42 pm | Published: 4/15 6:42 pm

Written by Aimee Bench

ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC 4 News) – Authorities in New York City unsealed an indictment charging eleven people with bank fraud and online gambling, including John Campos of St. George.

The federal prosecutors said they’ve issued restraining orders against more than 75 bank accounts used by the poker companies that have interrupted the flow of billions of dollars.

"As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits," said U.S. attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, "Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud."

U.S. banks and financial institutions detected and shut down multiple fraudulent bank accounts used by PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker in late 2009. Federal prosecutors say Isai Scheinberg of PokerStars and Raymond Bitar of Full Tilt Poker then developed a new processing strategy that would not involve manipulation of banks.  PokerStars, FullTilt Poker and their payment processors persuaded the principals of a few small, local banks facing financial difficulties to engage in such processing in return for multi-million dollar investments in the banks. 

The indictment alleges in September 2009, several other defendants in the case approached Campos, part-owner of SunFirst bank based in St. George, about internet poker transactions processes through his bank. Campos allegedly agreed to process the transactions in exchange for a $10 million investment in SunFirst. Campos also received a $20,000 bonus for his assistance as he requested.

Campos was arrested Friday morning in St. George, and will appear before a U.S. Magistrate Court Judge in St. George on April 18, 2011. 

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