July 8, 2008
Hagerstown man charged in holdup of illicit poker game
Maryland state trooper was one of the victims
By HEATHER KEELS (email@example.com)
HAGERSTOWN — A Hagerstown man has been charged in the May 30 holdup of an illicit poker game, where police say he and another man took about $4,000 from 18 people, including a Maryland State Police trooper.
Michael Joseph Campher, 22, of 960 Security Road, Apt. A, faces a total of 52 charges in the case, Washington County District Court records show. He was being held Monday at the Washington County Detention Center on $400,000 bond, a spokesman there said.
Trooper 1st Class Michael A. Ford of the Hagerstown Barracks confirmed to investigators that he was one of the victims, according to charging documents for Campher filed by Maryland State Police Cpl. Carl R. Hager of the Combined County Criminal Investigation Unit in Cumberland, Md.
Asked about possible repercussions for Ford, state police spokeswoman Elena Russo said the matter was under investigation. She said she could not comment further because it was a personnel matter. She confirmed that a number of gambling activities, such as the Texas Hold 'Em game described in the robbery case, are illegal in Maryland.
Ford was not working Monday and his voicemail box at the Hagerstown barracks was full.
According to interviews with five of the victims, the robbery happened shortly after 10 p.m. during a poker game in a building at 223 N. Prospect St. in Hagerstown, Hager wrote in the charging documents.
The victims said that just after the first break, two men in ski masks walked in and ordered everyone to put their money on the table, Hager wrote. One of the men pointed a gun at one of the players, and everyone reached into their pockets and put their money on the table as the other man gathered it up, according to victim accounts in Hager's report.
The victims heard the man with the gun address the man gathering the money as "Mike," and several of the players noticed that the man addressed as Mike had distinct-looking greenish eyes and a bulge under his mask that could have been created by dreadlocks, Hager wrote.
Afterwards, the players discussed these details and reached a consensus that the man gathering the money was a man with dreadlocks and green eyes who had played with them there before, known to them as "Mike," Hager wrote.
One of the victims identified this person as Campher, Hager wrote. That victim told investigators he was the one who introduced Campher to the poker games and said he immediately suspected Campher was the one gathering the money, Hager wrote. He also provided police with Campher's address.
Campher told police he had heard he was being accused, but he denied any involvement in the robbery, Hager wrote. However, Campher's brother told police Campher had admitted to him that he was involved in the robbery, Hager alleged in court documents.
Campher faces counts of first-degree assault, armed robbery, robbery, second-degree assault, theft, use of a handgun in the commission of a felony, reckless endangerment, and conspiracy to commit robbery and armed robbery.
A preliminary hearing for Campher was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. July 30 in Washington County District Court.