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Charges dropped in poker robbery

December 22, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A prosecutor on Monday dropped charges against Michael Joseph Campher, who was charged in a May 30 robbery in which two men took about $4,000 from 18 people, including a Maryland State Police trooper, who were involved in a Texas Hold 'Em poker game.

Campher, 22, faced charges of first-degree assault, armed robbery, robbery, second-degree assault, theft and other crimes.

Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion on Monday morning in Washington County Circuit Court announced the state was dropping the charges. She did not read into the record a reason for the decision to drop the charges and could not be reached later in the day to explain why the state was not prosecuting Campher.

State Police Trooper 1st Class Michael A. Ford of the Hagerstown barrack 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.

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Investigators learned of the robbery when someone told one of Ford's supervisors on June 10, an investigator testified during an August preliminary hearing in Washington County District Court.

Ford on Monday remained suspended and an internal investigation into the gambling activities continues, state police spokeswoman Elena Russo said. Ford, suspended with pay, is not working, she said.

A man who had been charged with holding the illicit poker game went to court in October.

William Ray Cosey, 54, of 301 S. Mulberry St. in Hagerstown, previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of renting space in a Hagerstown building for the purpose of gambling, according to court records.

Cosey was given a suspended one-year sentence, 18 months of supervised probation and a $1,000 fine, according to Washington County District Court records. Judge Ralph H. France II also ordered that Cosey forfeit all money confiscated at the time of his arrest, according to court records.

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