Monday, October 11, 2010

A Final Note on the Steve Forte Borgata Poker Cheat Scam

Ever since ex-casino game protection consultant Steve Forte had felony charges related to a gambling-cheating conspiracy at the Atlantic City Borgata Hotel dismissed, I have been taking a lot of criticism in my treatment of the case, which was centered around the probability of Forte's guilt since he was arrested in June, 2007. Most of this criticism has come from magic groups and magic forums on the Internet. I do not know if Steve is a certified magician, but he is certainly held in high-esteem, almost icon-like, by people in these forums, whether or not they are magicians.

One point I would like to make before getting into the particulars of the Borgata case is that I have never understood how magic and magicians are supposed to be knowledgeable about cheating gambling casinos. A whole slew of magicians and card-tricksters are currently passing themselves off as experts on casino cheating and actually get themselves hired by casinos to teach game protection or their version of anti-cheating practice and theory. As I have stated numerous times, there is NO connection to casino cheating and sleight of hand, or at the least, sleight of hand is not needed to cheat casinos and is only gratuitous when used.

To my knowledge, not one magician who has consulted to a casino in the area of game protection (except Steve if he is indeed a magician) has ever participated in any capacity in actually cheating a casino. This includes George Joseph, Sal Piacente, Darwin Ortiz and Baron Stringfellow, yet they all consider and sell themselves to casinos as casino-cheating experts...Beats me!

Now to Steve's Borgata case:

There have been several people commenting online about it and even a few major interviews about the case given by friends, partners and associates of Steve Forte. Steve himself has said nothing about the case, sticking to "the dismissal speaks for itself." The latest I have read by people supporting Steve's innocence is that a poker game never took place and the entire event was nothing more than a conspiracy to cheat one high-roller called "J.H." out of $75,000 in a Chinese poker game, which besides the use of poker hand-rankings has nothing to do with poker itself. Also in these descriptions is mentioned a conspiracy to commit a baccarat scam against the same individual.

Okay...Whatever did or didn't happen, whoever was or wasn't involved in this so-called conspiracy (we will never see the State of New Jersey's probable-cause writ for arresting Steve and three other co-conspirators, thus we will never know "officially" whether there was or wasn't a game), the following truisms and facts about this and all other crimes and scams are incontrovertible.

1) Any crime committed with a crime scene must have a criminal who committed the crime and a victim of the said crime. The only other human element that could be present at the crime scene is a witness. A witness to a crime committed in a public area could be known or unknown to the criminals and victims. A witness to a crime committed in a private place, such as a hotel room in the Atlantic City Borgata, could only be a known witness, known to at least one of the criminals or victims. It is not plausible that a witness present during a crime in a private place not know someone else in that place.

2) In any conspiracy to commit a crime there must be at least two latent-criminals to conspire and at least one intended victim. If there is only one person planning the commission of the crime, it is not a conspiracy but rather individual intent to commit a crime.

3) Steve Forte was physically present at what was either a crime scene or a place where a conspiracy to commit a crime was ongoing.

4) No one--not Steve, nor his various supporters--has ever said that Steve WAS NOT at the place where the conspiracy or crime took place.

5) Steve has never offered an explanation of what he was doing in the place where the crime or conspiracy took place.

These five facts are indisputable. To encapsulate them all: Steve Forte was present in an Atlantic City hotel room where either a conspiracy or ongoing criminal activity was taking place. This means that Steve could only have been a criminal participant/conspirator or a victim. Since the action took place in the privacy of a hotel room, Steve could not have been a witness.

Okay, let's move on. To give Steve's supporters the benefit of the doubt, and to even hypothetically accept the possibility that what my sources told me went down at the Borgata was inaccurate (I was even told by one highly-respected Las Vegas professional blackjack player and writer/publisher what Steve's motive was for being involved in the scam, but I never mentioned this because it has to be considered speculation), let's say that nothing more than a conspiracy took place. Let's say that a group of people in that Borgata hotel room were going to scam one high-roller out of $75,000 (where this small amount came from I don't know).

Okay, let's go back to the aforementioned possibilities. Since we're speaking hypothethically about a conspiracy in a private hotel room where Steve was present, was he just a witness? I think you'll agree that this would have been impossible by the definition above.

So then was Steve the intended victim? I highly doubt that. After all, who in the world is going to try to scam the most well-known casino scam expert in the world? Besides, none of Steve's supporters have offered up the possibility that he was indeed the intended victim.

So what's left?...Before I state the obvious and the only likely conclusion, let's examine two more possible outs for Steve. Was he working undercover for the feds to set-up the other co-conspirators? Well, if you believe that, you've been watching too much of the "Bourne" movies. Besides, I highly doubt that the feds would go through with sponsoring the actual arrest of Forte and then exonerating him two years later just to make it look good and protect Steve. Let's not forget that this is just a little card-cheating case and not one of international terrorism or the likes.

Second, was Steve somehow there to gather information for a personal agenda such as writing a book or consulting to a film? If so, I think he would have told us, and some publisher or movie company would have made a statement backing it up.

I've outlined all the other possible explanations. Which leaves us with, was Steve one of the co-conspirators if not the total mastermind of the Chinese poker conspiracy or real poker-game crime?

Well, there is only one way I can ever believe he wasn't. That is if Steve TELLS US WHAT HE WAS DOING IN THAT HOTEL ROOM WHERE THE CONSPIRACY/CRIME TOOK PLACE. Until he does that with some sort of plausible explanation (which would be difficult if not impossible), how can we believe that he was totally innocent of all this, no matter that the case against him was dropped. Remember, a case thrown out does not mean the accused was innocent. It only means that the prosecutor didn't have enough evidence to PROVE the accused was guilty. I, of all people, know that firsthand. Do you know how many casino scams I masterminded and executed in my life?..THOUSANDS!

Not one case has ever been made against me.

You know what, if I were Steve, I would have come out immediately after the case against him got tossed and declared, "I was never at the Borgata when this went down. The cops just arrested me becauses they had a hard-on for me and fabricated that I was at the Borgata."

THAT would have some credibility because no one can (or will) prove to us that Steve was actually there.

But Steve never said this.

In a lengthy interview for magictimes.com which highly criticized me, Steve Forte's business partner, fellow magician and friend Jason England was asked by Meir Yedid, "Okay then, here's the question that comes up over and over again: What was Steve doing there?"

England responded, "That's a question you'll have to ask him. I've always felt that Steve should publically respond to this question, but he doesn't see it the same way and doesn't feel the need to apologize or explain his actions to anyone. What I can tell you is that he was prepared to take the stand and answer that question for a jury. Had that come to pass the jury would have listened and believed him, because the facts in the case supported everything he had to say."

Does this response sound evasive, elliptical and well thought out? You tell me.

Finally, I invite all of you to comment on this. I have been emailed by dozens of people, including the crime fiction author James Swain, asking me to clear Steve's name on this website. Until Steve himself tells us what he was doing in that hotel room, instead of saying that he owes no one an explanation, I cannot do so. I feel he owes an explanation because being a non-victim at a crime scene indoors is a crime in itself to a reputation.
 
If you are one of Steve's friends or supporters, maybe you can convince him of this.