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This article is the first in a series of investigations involving #MagicGate. Please read:
Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is a competitive card game which can be played live and online. There are an estimated 20 million players worldwide.
Ross Stanley Prajzner, 35, is an avid MTG player and judge who judged at least 7 MTG events from 2012 through 2016 in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. He so thoroughly enjoyed judging tournaments he traveled hundreds of miles to do so. What a benefit to the community, no? Perhaps that would be true if he was not convicted of sex crimes against children. Prajzner was caught distributing child pornography on October 3, 2013, by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. He has been forced to register as a sex offender in Pennsylvania.
A detective downloaded a picture of an underage child directly from Prajzner’s computer, which Prajzner made accessible on a secret file sharing network for pedophiles. A search warrant was obtained as a result of the detective’s findings and police confiscated Prajzner’s computer from his home. Over 35 images of children under the age of 18, either posing sexually or taking part in actual sex acts, were found by police on Prajzner’s computer on October 30, 2013. He was arrested December 9, 2013.
He faced a prison sentence of 7 to 14 years for possession and dissemination of child pornography. A plea bargain struck by Stephen M. Geday, Esq and the prosecution allowed Prajzner to avoid spending 14 years in a cold steel cage. On November 24, 2014, he pleaded guilty to two felonies; sexual abuse of children and possessing child pornography. Prajzner’s sentencing was deferred until the Sexual Offender Assessment Board could assess if he was a sexually violent predator. Prajzner was found to be a predator of the nonviolent variety, which is not a conciliation worthy of acclaim. He still finds children sexually attractive and allowed other predators to access pictures of exploited children ensuring the pictures will circulate in perpetuity.
On February 13, 2015 Judge Wendy Demchick-Ally gave Prajzner 3 to 23 months in jail and he was allowed to serve his time on the weekends. During Prajzner’s sentencing, Demchick-Alloy did not attempt to hide her contempt, “I want you to see the inside of a jail cell so you understand this is your life if you ever do this again. You need to see the inside of a jail cell again and again.”
According to archived records, Prajzner’s court appearances juxtaposed with his history as an MTG judge serves as a horrifying reminder of how Wizards of the Coast’s (Wotc) reckless policies placed children in the paths of pedophiles.
On September 7-8, 2013 Prajzner judged the SCG Open Series in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which was only 25 days before the first pornographic picture of a child was downloaded off his computer by a detective. Should one believe he acquired the pictures of naked children engaged in sex acts, and disseminated them, for the first time in his life on the very same day he was caught by the police? What a coincidence that would be. The much more likely scenario is Prajzner was in possession of child pornography during the September SCG Open Series event and before the event as well.
His reign of terror was just beginning. Prajzner would be around children, after being caught dead to rights in possession of child porn, many times as an MTG judge in the future.
He attended a Judge Conference in Chantilly, Virginia on November 15, 2013 which was a mere 16 days after police raided his house and arrested him. While out on bail with charges hanging over his head Prajzner mingled with his judge colleagues. Prajzner went to another Judge Conference in Richmond Virginia on March 7, 2014 too.
His next appearances as a judge were in Somerville, New Jersey at a PTQ event on April 6, 2014, and on April 19, 2014 he judged the PTQ M-15 in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. In that span of 13 days, Prajzner was twice in a position of authority with children and their unsuspecting parents were none the wiser thanks to WotC’s refusal to mandate background checks. If they were your children how would you feel knowing WotC could have prevented Prajzner’s presence and chose not to do so?
The following month Prajzner was judging the StarCityGames.com Open Series in Somerset, New Jersey on May 24-25 2014. Once again working in an official capacity and once again having access and authority over children. Did he pat any of their heads or rub any of their backs? Take any selfies? I do not know. What I know is children were present and Prajzner had no business being within 1,000 feet of them.
Coopersburg, Pennsylvania was the site of Prajzner’s next recorded appearance as an official judge on August 2-3, 2014 at the Eternal Extravaganza. This would be his last tournament session as a judge for 2014 because in November he would be pleading guilty to all of the sex crime charges against him.
After Prajzner’s felony conviction for sexual abuse of children, he was back judging MTG tournaments where children were present on January 31, 2015 in Mount Holly, New Jersey. Perhaps the vapidest of readers would have argued previously Prajzner was not yet convicted when he judged earlier MTG tournaments, regardless if evidence was found in his home, but even they would be forced to agree this scenario is ghastly. Particularly because Prajzner had not yet begun serving his debt to society due to the process of the Sexual Offender Assessment Board determining Prajzner’s status as a violent sexual offender. This scenario, standing alone with no other details, should have been enough for WotC to radically alter their policy on judges being screened with background checks.
While it may seem impossible for this scenario to grow worse, it, unfortunately, does exactly that.
The final recorded appearance of Prajzner as an MTG judge would not be for 19 more months on July 31, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the $5,000 ARG Legacy Circuit Series. If the gap of time gives one pause, there is a reason. MTG tournaments are almost always scheduled for weekends. Prajzner was unable to attend tournaments because he was serving time in jail for his crimes against children every weekend beginning in February 2015.
Prajzner finished serving his time by the end of October 2015. He immediately went back to playing tournaments upon his release, because he finished in the top eight on November 1, 2015 at the StarCityGames.com Legacy Open in Philadelphia. So much for Elaine Chase’s claim of WotC’s “long-standing practice” of “zero-tolerance for sex offenders”, eh?
Consider at the time of his arrest Prajzner lived in Montgomery Twp, Pennsylvania and he attended 5 events in the state from 2012 to 2016. Two were in Coopersburg and three were in Philadelphia. The other judges and WotC staff knew him. I find it incredibly unlikely word did not quickly travel through the local grapevine about Prajzner’s 2013 arrest. People in positions of power knew and they did nothing. A sexual deviant was allowed to continue being in authority over children. A blind eye was turned to all of it, and those accomplices responsible in enabling Prajzner’s villainy will now live with everlasting shame. That is a stain which can never wash off. Men like Prajzner deserve nothing less than scorn and seething hatred for the evil which they perpetuate on the world. It would be nice if WotC agreed.
Today Prajzner is a free man roaming the streets and visiting parks to watch children who do not know a sexual predator is stalking them. He may even be judging MTG tournaments again under an alias. The world will never know as WotC does not require background checks. Such a thought causes an overflow of one’s heart.
Despite the clamoring claims of Wizards of the Coast’s Vice President of Global Brand Strategy & Marketing Elaine Chase Prajzner has never banned Prajzner’s DCI number meaning he is still eligible to play in MTG tournaments.
Who won the tournament is irrelevant to this article. I don’t even play the game. Ross Prajzner attended and crossed paths with former tournament host Travis LaPlante which would set up the breakthrough findings of a pedophile cover-up in the MTG community.
I conducted an interview with LaPlante and he says Prajzner cheated! This comes at a bit of a stunning surprise given Prajzner’s history of seeking virtue. He went on to accuse the tournament’s judge Elliot Raff of taking Prajzner’s side. LaPlante described the situation at the tournament table:
I told the head judge Elliot Raff one set of facts and Ross told a different set of facts. Elliot Raff sided with Ross and gave me a warning for harassing behaviour. The match continued. I ended up losing and called Ross a fucking cheater and he called Raff back over and informed him of what I said. Raff asked me if I said anything and I said “no” as sarcastically as possible. He then disqualified me for what he called my “second offense” of “lying to a head judge.”
LaPlante was telling the truth. Prajzner indeed lied during the tournament. One look at the official registry shows he used his full name. However, if one looks at the 7th round form procured by the themanadrain.com owner Andy Probasco they will see Prajzner intentionally misspelled their own name. We all do this and I often spell Lou as Lew.
At the time of its discovery this was of little consequence because LaPlante had already been disqualified, but it shows Prajzner’s overall intent.
LaPlante then contacted the tournament organizer Nick Detwiller. They had a long conversation which is below.
LaPlante went home and contacted Judge Raff the next day, June 25, 2017. LaPlante said the following conversation, which has now been deleted, took place regarding the sex offender Ross Prajzner:
He didn’t say, I don’t know if he thought I was just making things up or what, I never got confirmation that he followed up on the issue at all that’s for sure.
That’s what lead me to submit it myself he provided me with the judge feedback email.address and that was the extent of his assistance.
It was just about a month after the tournament on July 20th I sent in a detailed description of my experience with ross Prajzner.
LaPlante never heard back from Raff who failed in his duty to report a sex offender to the proper judicial authorities. LaPlante then contacted the official judge feedback page on July 20, 2017. His email went directly to a level 4 judge named Sean Catanese.
This is a picture of the same email showing it was sent by Travis LaPlante.
After sending the emails Travis LaPlante did not receive a reply from anybody. He gave up on receiving justice from the cheating Prajzner, and he grew worried about the safety of children. Several months later Travis LaPlante spoke with one of his good friends Gary Jay Steffens Jr.. When I asked Travis LaPlante about Steffens he said he was, “Only the second person I have ever invited over for dinner on the holidays.” Steffens Jr told Travis LaPlante about a man named Jeremy Hambly who was receiving trouble on YouTube for free speech reasons and that Hambly was interested in his viewers sending him evidence that pedophiles existed in the MTG community. Travis LaPlante jumped at the chance and emailed the very same emails he sent to Level 2 Judge Elliot Raff and Level 4 Judge Sean Catanese to Jeremy Hambly who had recently been banned from MTG.
Within less than 12 hours Hambly had uncovered the identity of Prajzner. LaPlante was satisfied with the outcome and he went on with his life.
Prajzner was not removed from the official judge website until late 2017 after news of his crimes began to circulate.
This was around the same time I, Lou Colagiovanni, arrived on the MTG community scene by releasing my then unknown and soon-to-be explosive analysis titled, “Magic: The Manic Hypocrisy.” Following the first couple of days, I started reviewing all of the transfers which had taken place from MTG games. I began to review all of the previous areas of which I was unfamiliar. I reviewed all of the documents available and noticed the email which Hambly received from LaPlante was not complete. I contacted LaPlante and asked for the full document that he happily provided. We chatted and I became aware of LaPlante ‘s rough dealings with MTG in the past. It became apparent judges were doing their best to ignore LaPlante’s attempts at raising the issue of pedophiles in the community from participating in public discourse. That is the cover-up. Two judges, a level 4 and a level 2 both failed to report the disgusting Ross Prajzner.
Why should you believe this story?
Gary Jay Steffens Jr has been a fan of mine for close to a decade. He introduced me to Jeremy Hambly, and he has followed Hambly for a couple of years as well — even if he doesn’t agree with every word he says. Steffens and Travis LaPlante have been great friends in real life for over 10 years. Both of them have played Magic: The Gathering, in its many forms, for over 20 years — often by traveling with each other to tournaments. They have hosted a combined 30+ MTG tournaments. For example, in 2008 LaPlante founded “Traviscon” which attracted 240 players. The tournament host Nick Detwiler is well respected in the MTG community. He was not interviewed for this article. He and LaPlante have known each other for over 10 years.
The point is nobody featured here has a motivation to fabricate any of this evidence. The above happened exactly as described.
(Author’s note: The original version of this article was published with minor errors which have been corrected. Images have been reorganized for clarity.)