Authors who say they were swindled by publisher growing impatient with case delays
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | December 11,2012
BENNINGTON — For more than a year, a group of Vermonters from as far north as Hinesburg have been following the case of a Manchester man who police said made promises to publish their books but never did. Now those people say they are becoming frustrated with the delays in the case.
Peter Campbell-Copp, 63, is facing more than a dozen felony charges of using false pretenses to obtain more than $900 and about half a dozen charges of issuing bad checks.
When Campbell-Copp has been scheduled for court appearances in the last few months, about a dozen people have come to the Bennington criminal courtroom each time with the hope that the case might be resolved.
On Monday, Jeffrey Rubin, the attorney representing Campbell-Copp said the state had made an offer to resolve the case but Campbell-Copp declined it in favor of a trial.
Bennington County Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Christina Rainville told Judge Cortland Corsones that she expected the trial to take 2 1/2 weeks, in part because it involves eight different dockets and more than 20 charges.
Corsones said he wanted to have a discussion with attorneys about whether the charges should be tried all at once, causing even more concern for those who have been attending the hearings.
“It’s kind of ridiculous because we’re all victims here of the same crime and yet we’re all being re-victimized by this crime again. It doesn’t make any sense at all. We’re all very upset about it,” said Peter Italia of Rutland.
Rusty Devoid, of Hinesburg, said he was concerned what the jury might do if they didn’t know the “scope of the whole thing.”
Italia said he and others who made allegations had been coming to court faithfully but didn’t even know yet when a trial might take place.
“This has been a crime spree by Peter Campbell-Copp that’s gone on for years, not only in Vermont but, we hear, other places,” Italia said.
For DeVoid, the trip from Hinesburg is about 220 miles round-trip. DeVoid has been tracking the case carefully and said he’s found 37 people who had given Campbell-Copp money to publish a book but who never saw the book published. Others found out their book had been sold through a website but they had never received any money.
DeVoid said a woman from St. Johnsbury, who was making a round-trip of more than 300 miles, had come to some of the hearings. Those involved in the case have kept in touch with each other and DeVoid said he knew some people couldn’t afford to take the time off to come to the hearings even when they wanted to follow the case.
Others have just given up and moved on because of the delays and the time it has taken for the case to proceed, according to DeVoid. A Dorset man said he had a similar experience with Campbell-Copp in 2006, DeVoid said.
Maureen Williams, of East Middlebury, said some people had been victimized more than once because they had given Campell-Copp money and had been repaid with bad checks.
“It’s almost a joke only it’s not funny,” added Chuck Colvin of Poultney.
Many of the people who attended the hearing said they were also concerned that Campbell-Copp might also be continuing to accept money from authors. They said they wanted to get the word out to prevent what happened to them from happening to others.