Friday, October 03, 2008

Steve Forte Indicted For Borgata High-Tech Poker Cheat Scam!

Cheat Turned Gaming Protection Consultant Turned Cheat Again Steve Forte Is Indicted...But Only For Second Degree Crime!

Four men indicted Thursday in a high-tech gambling scheme rented a room at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa to host private, high-stakes games of Chinese poker, backgammon and chess, authorities say. They rigged a nearby room with surveillance equipment and computers to cheat a high-roller out of tens of thousands of dollars, according to the indictment. But shortly before the victim was to arrive, State Police searched the two hotel rooms, arrested the four men and seized the equipment.

The four defendants - Joseph Ingargiola, 51, of Las Vegas; James Harrison, 42, of Duluth, Minn.; Stephen Phillips, 53, of Las Vegas; and Steven Forte, 52, of Las Vegas - were indicted by an Atlantic County grand jury Thursday on charges of second-degree attempted theft by deception, Attorney General Anne Milgram said.

Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine. Each of the defendants was released on bail after the June 7, 2007, arrests. The indictment alleges the four men plotted to cheat a man, identified only as "J.H." (I'd love to know who this guy is. I think I have an idea but can't publish it), who was invited to participate in a tournament involving the high-stakes games in a Borgata hotel room. The four men allegedly had rigged a second room with hidden surveillance cameras, audio equipment, computers and other high-tech devices that would be used to cheat the victim out of more than $75,000, according to the indictment. The defendants allegedly intended to use the equipment to secretly monitor the games from the second room. The victim was to play an opponent who was part of the alleged scheme. The defendants allegedly planned to use marked playing cards for the Chinese poker so they could identify the victim's cards and transmit instructions to the opposing player, who would be wearing a concealed earpiece. They also intended to use the equipment to monitor the games of backgammon and chess so computer programs could be used to calculate the countermoves that offered the best odds of winning, authorities said.

These are not the first casino cheating charges for Ingargiola and Forte. In 1990, both men were ordered to pay $108,870 in fines and restitution for cheating the Trump Castle Hotel & Casino (now Trump Marina) out of $225,000 while playing blackjack in 1987, according to an article in The Press of Atlantic City at the time.
The article described Ingargiola as the organizer and "floor director" for the ring. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

"I don't think I'm a threat to society," Ingargiola said at the time. "I'm a totally nonviolent person."

Forte, a former casino manager in Nevada, had previously written books on gambling and lectured several times about gambling to law-enforcement authorities in the United States and Canada.

The charges are the result of an investigation by detectives from the New Jersey State Police Organized Crime Control Bureau Casino Unit assigned to the Division of Gaming Enforcement. Deputy Attorney General Kerry DiJoseph of the Division of Criminal Justice Major Crimes Bureau - Casino Prosecution Unit presented the case to the grand jury. Detective Sgt. David A. Smith and Detective Gregg M. Ogden of the State Police Organized Crime Control Bureau Casino Unit, assisted by Sgt. Ronald Rozwadowski of the Division of Criminal Justice Casino Prosecution Unit, investigated the case. Thursday's indictment was handed up in Superior Court in Mays Landing, where the defendants will be ordered to appear at a later date for arraignment on the charges.