Tuesday April 9, 2013

BENNINGTON -- A Manchester publisher accused of defrauding dozens of prospective authors in what police described as a "Ponzi scheme" pleaded not contest Monday to 16 felonies and three misdemeanors.

Peter Campbell-Copp, 63, was first accused in 2011 with several counts of fraud. Hinesburg police said they received a complaint from Rust Devoid, who said he had given Campbell-Copp $7,500 to publish a book but the work was never done. Over the course of several months more complaints of a similar nature were filed and Campbell-Copp entered not guilty pleas on each.

He was scheduled to begin a three-week trial today, but instead will start a three-day sentencing hearing on Wednesday, said Deputy State’s Attorney Christina Rainville. She said she intends to seek jail time for Campbell-Copp as well as restitution. Rainville said while there was no plea bargain, she does not know yet how much time she will seek for Campbell-Copp to serve. Rainville said the plan currently is to have Campbell-Copp’s victims testify at the sentencing hearing.

Campbell-Copp waived his right to a pre-sentencing investigation. Rainville said she believes a number of civil suits are pending against Campbell-Copp.

While the case began in Hinesburg, it was consolidated to be in Bennington County. Campbell-Copp is thought to have defrauded at least $170,000 through his publishing firm, Historical Pages.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr