Thursday, April 03, 2008

Ringleader of Biggest Casino Cheat Scam in History Pleads Guilty!

Baccarat Casino Cheats netted millions.

As reported by the San Diego Union, Phuong Quoc Truong, known as John Truong or “Pai Gow” John, who as a fired Sycuan Casino card dealer went on to set up the largest casino cheating ring ever brought down by U.S. authorities, pleaded guilty to organized crime and theft charges Wednesday.

Truong, the head of a corrupt criminal gang called the Tran Organization, admitted in San Diego federal court to founding a ring that eventually hit more than 16 casinos and made more than $7 million.

Investigators said Truong, 42, and other members of the San Diego-based cheating ring bribed card dealers into pretending to shuffle decks of cards – a “false shuffle” – and then placed bets while knowing what cards were about to come up.

The cheaters also used hidden transmitters and custom software to predict winning hands in mini-baccarat and blackjack games, investigators said.

The ring recruited dealers and their supervisors in casinos from Connecticut to Mississippi and from California to Washington state.

Many of the dealers assisted investigators during the five years detectives tailed the ring and were not charged in the criminal case.

Truong admitted conspiring in 2006 to cheat Sycuan.

Investigators said Sycuan fired Truong four years earlier after he performed a false shuffle that allowed his cohorts to win $525.

Other members of the ring are accused of stealing more than $211,000 from the Barona casino over two weeks in 2005, but Truong wasn't among them.

Truong is the seventh of 19 members of the ring charged in San Diego federal court to plead guilty. He faces up to 20 years in prison at a hearing scheduled for Sept. 15, though the plea bargain he reached with prosecutors indicates he probably will get much less time.

He also pleaded guilty to charges in a related case in Washington state, where prosecutors charged seven others, including the son of Seattle's mayor, who was sentenced to three months in prison.

Efforts to reach Truong's attorney were unsuccessful Wednesday.

As part of his agreement, Truong agreed to turn over $2.8 million to the government, including houses in La Mesa and Escondido, two properties in Vietnam, a 2001 Porsche Carrera and a Rolex watch.

He will also have to give up a gold pendant in the shape of a Mercedes logo encrusted with 104 small diamonds and one 2-carat diamond.