Friday, May 15, 2009

Litany Of Dealer Cheat Sob Stories Emerging From Connecticut Casino Cheat Trial

Lots of cheating casino craps dealers have been telling the court about various financial and divorce problems that had pressured them into participation in the huge Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun insider craps cheat scams, and I really do hope the judge takes their hardships into consideration. They are all testifying against the alleged mastermind, Richard "Mr. Cool" Taylor, who, by the time this becomes old news, will surely be cooled off if not totally on ice at some Connecticut state prison. Below is the latest news account of the trial:

Disgraced former casino employees have been marching up to the witness stand one by one this week to admit to a jury that they took part in a craps cheating conspiracy.
Mattie Tarlton of New London, a former craps dealer at Foxwoods Resort Casino, testified first as the trial began Tuesday in New London Superior Court. The sole caretaker of frail and elderly parents, Tarlton said she has made arrangements to send them to live with a sister in Maryland should she have to go to prison.

As the trial ended for the week Thursday afternoon, Chandler Alfred Jr. of Baltic was on the witness stand. Since losing his job as a dealer, Alfred said he has been doing landscaping work. The state has been calling the former Foxwoods Resort Casino employees to testify at the trial of Richard Taylor, a Memphis, Tenn., man who allegedly masterminded the scam. With high-level casino officials watching from the audience, the expressive Taylor staring point blank at them from the defense table and an inquisitive panel of eight taking notes from the jury box, the former dealers have detailed how they paid players for bets made after the outcome of the dice roll was known.

In one case, a supervisor admitted he scheduled dealers to be at craps tables so that they would be available when the so-called “shot-takers” came in to cheat. All of them said they accepted money for their services - $2,500 to $4,000 in many cases. Eleven Foxwoods employees and one Mohegan Sun dealer have been arrested and lost their jobs and gaming licenses as a result of the alleged scam. Their criminal cases are on hold pending the outcome of Taylor's trial. While each of the employees called this week said under oath that the state has not promised leniency in exchange for their testimony, one admitted Thursday that he thinks cooperating will help his case.

”I hope it gives me some consideration,” said Tony Leyko of North Stonington, a former dealer who described himself as “somewhat of a middleman” between Taylor and the other dealers. He explained that the cheating players received one third of the proceeds and that the dealers and Taylor each received one third. Leyko said he recruited other dealers and would meet up with the player after work to collect the money. Leyko, who loved being paid to “play a game” at the casino, also admitted on the witness stand that he had run a sports betting pool at Foxwoods. Since losing his job, Leyko has fallen back on a previous vocation, general contracting, to pay the bills.

David Kelley, who took a job as a security guard in 1992, the year Foxwoods opened, and had worked his way up to a floor supervisor position by the time he left in 2007, now lives in Florida and works part time, on weekends, with a company that organizes events. Kelley testified that he was making “a very good living” while working at the casino. Now, he said, his financial status is “horrible.”

Roger “Troy” Morris, another floor supervisor, has also moved out of state and testified that he, too, is having a difficult time.

Timothy Cahill of Norwich, a dealer almost from Day One at the casino, was working was assistant floor supervisor when the scandal broke. He now works in packaging at a Frito-Lay's plant. His voice shaking, Cahill testified that he had been “struggling” financially when he was recruited into the scam. ”I was in the middle of a divorce,” he said. “I needed money for lawyers.”

Alfred will continue testifying when the trial resumes Monday. The state is expected to rest its case by Tuesday.