Manchester publisher back in court for alleged fraud

BENNINGTON -- A Manchester publisher who was sentenced to serve six months in prison in April for defrauding dozens of authors out of nearly $200,000 was back in court Monday facing allegations he borrowed $28,000 from someone while knowing he could not pay the loan back.

Peter N. Campbell-Copp, 64, of Dillingham Avenue, Manchester, pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court to two felony counts of false pretenses. He was held at the Rutland jail for lack of $15,000 bail and ordered not to have contact with Janice Venable, 76. Should Campbell-Copp be released he must check in daily at the Manchester Police Station.

In April, Campbell-Copp pleaded no contest to 15 felony counts of false pretenses, theft of services, and four misdemeanor counts of bad checks. He was given six months to serve and a five- to 20-year suspended sentence. He also signed multiple restitution orders. Campbell-Copp did this shortly before a three-week trial was to commence. According to police, Campbell-Copp defrauded dozens of aspiring authors by accepting payments between $8,000 and $10,000 from them in order to publish their books -- something he either did not do at all or did not do in a timely manner.

On Sept. 2, Venable spoke to Manchester Police Sgt. Daniel Steere, who according to his affidavit investigated the author complaints against Campbell-Copp which were first filed in 2011.

Venable showed police a contract she had signed with Campbell-Copp in which he claimed to be a consultant for three companies seeking investments to grow their profit margins. The contact claims he succeeded and was anticipating being paid by these companies in 30 days.

"Jay Venable has agreed to advance Mr. Campbell-Copp $15,000 against funds that are due Mr. Campbell-Copp for the purpose of obtaining legal counsel for managing Mr. Campbell-Copp's future welfare," reads part of the agreement.

Campbell-Copp agreed to pay Venable back the $15,000 plus $10,000 in interest within 30 days of the contract being signed, which was on Feb. 14. The contract was later amended to where Venable agreed to lend Campbell-Copp an additional $13,000. It also included a payment schedule which held that $13,000 would be due on March 29, $25,000 due in the first week of April, and $10,000 due in the second week of April.

Venable said she received a letter from Campbell-Copp on Aug. 6 saying he hoped to have her money soon. She said she had also spoken to Campbell-Copp's wife, who gave her excuses.

Venable did receive $2,000 from Campbell-Copp with a letter indicating a balance was still due of $46,000. Earlier she had received a letter from Campbell-Copp saying because of the extended time period, Venable would get more back in interest.

Steere wrote that he contacted the three companies Campbell-Copp claimed to be a consultant for. Two of them had disconnected phone lines while the third said that while it did agree to give 3 percent of a $1.5 million investment should Campbell-Copp secure it, the company never had any cause to pay Campbell-Copp anything.

Steere wrote that at the time Campbell-Copp entered into the agreement with Venable, he was accused of owing more than $100,000 to authors with whom he had made previous arrangements. Campbell-Copp did not have the means to pay back the $28,000 borrowed or the interest he agreed to pay.

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


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