Thursday, December 30, 2010
Nine Casino Cheats Including Three Dealers Go Down in Milwaukee Casino Bingo Scam!
About $160,000 was stolen in 2005 and 2006 through a simple scheme organized by casino employee Deandre Russell, according to court documents.
Russell is facing about two years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines when he is sentenced next year by U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller. The other defendants, who admitted helping Russell in the scheme, face less time because the amount each stole was less than Russell's total take, according to their plea agreements.
After the casino learned of the theft, officials made changes, Potawatomi casino spokesman Ryan Amundson said. "It is important to ensure the integrity of our games," Amundson said. "Immediately following the incident, procedures were put in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening again."
Amundson said he was unable to talk about what the changes were. He also said he could not confirm when Russell worked at the casino. Court documents indicate Russell worked at the casino in 2005 and 2006 on the bingo floor. Two other people who had worked at the casino, Gloria M. Rivas-Santiago and Esmeralda L. Fuentez, pleaded guilty to running a scheme they said they learned from Russell.
Russell's attorney did not return a call for comment.
According to the plea agreement:
Russell devised the scheme to fix the Pick 8 bingo game so his associates would win and split the money with him.
In the Pick 8 game, players would buy a card with carbon paper on the back, write down eight numbers and then drop the carbon paper into a clear locked box, keeping the original card. Players were supposed to put only the carbon copy into the locked box. Bingo balls with numbers would pop from a machine and the numbers would be called. If a player's numbers were in the first 20 called, the player won the jackpot. The winner would produce the original card and employees opened the locked box to look for the carbon match to it. The jackpot started at $10,000 and went up $500 each day there was no winner.
Russell instructed his accomplices to keep a blank card and fill in the numbers as they were called. They announced they had won and hand the card - with carbon still attached - to Russell, who was working near the locked box. Russell would discreetly separate the carbon copy and slip it into the locked box while he and other employees searched for the matching carbon copy.
Once an accomplice took the winnings, he or she would split them with Russell. Russell confessed to the FBI in early 2007. Others confessed earlier this year. A grand jury indicted him and eight others in July.
The other defendants are Johnnie L. Tisley, Jennifer Y. Rawls, Edward D. Conley, Cassandra O. Tenner, Jesse B. Torres and Torlan D. Baldwin.