NEW YORK – A judge said he was "extremely lenient" Wednesday when he sent a Utah banker who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor to prison for three months for his role in an Internet poker prosecution that shut down the U.S. operations of three card-dealing companies.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan told John Campos that he might not have made much money personally by letting his St. George, Utah, bank process gambling proceeds but it was a "greed-driven crime" nonetheless.
He noted that Campos stood to benefit financially if the revenue helped steady the finances of SunFirst Bank. Campos was the bank's vice chairman and was on its board of directors when he agreed beginning in late 2009 to process $200 million in gambling proceeds.
Campos pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor bank gambling charge. The judge said it was important to send a message to others that financial crimes will be punished, especially after the economic crisis of recent years.
"There's just no doubt at all that you engaged in criminal behavior," Kaplan said. "That is not a laughing matter, even if it was a small bank in St. George, Utah."
When Campos pleaded guilty, Kaplan questioned whether the government was abandoning its case. He declined to immediately accept the plea. Later, he said Wednesday, he determined that the government had "a reasonable basis" to let Campos plead guilty to a reduced charge.
During his plea, Campos said his processing of the gambling proceeds for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker was not in return for a $10 million investment in the bank. He declined to speak before he was sentenced Wednesday. He was ordered to surrender by Sept. 18.