An Atlantic County Superior Court grand jury recently indicted a man for using unauthorized poker chips during a major poker tournament in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The 43-year-old suspect, who is from Fayetteville, North Carolina, allegedly ordered the fake poker chips over the Internet from China. He then allegedly tried to sneak the chips into the Borgata Winter Poker Open, a major event with a guaranteed prize pool of $2 million. Prior to bringing the chips to the Atlantic City casino in January 2014, the suspect reportedly placed fake Borgata stickers on them.
Discovery of Fraud at Poker Tournament in Atlantic City
Remarkably, the suspect’s alleged illegal actions were discovered when guests at the Harrah’s Resort and Casino hotel, which is located near the Borgata, began to complain about pipe leaks in their rooms. When hotel staff members investigated the leaks, they reportedly discovered that more than 500 bogus poker chips had been flushed down a toilet.
After the suspect was identified and arrested, a NJ State Police superintendent colonel wryly observed that the suspect gambled on a flush in high-stakes poker and “lost big when his alleged scheme was foiled by a leaking sewer pipe.”
According to officials, the chips found in the hotel’s pipes had a face value of approximately $2.7 million. Additionally, staff members at the Borgata, where the poker tournament was being held, found another $55,000 worth of counterfeit chips in the men’s room. It is believed that the suspect used more than 150 counterfeit chips, each with a face value of $5,000, during the tournament.
Once hotel staff and tournament officials became aware of the counterfeit chips, they contacted New Jersey State Police and the NJ Division of Criminal Justice. The agencies conducted a joint investigation to determine which tournament entrant introduced the fake poker chips.
As a result of the introduction of counterfeit chips into the poker tournament, casino and gaming officials shut down the event after just three days; it was supposed to go on for three weeks. However, by the time the chips were discovered, the suspect had already cashed for more than $6,800 in the tournament. Since tournament officials could not determine how many players had been affected by the fake chips, they eventually decided to cancel the tournament despite the fact that 27 players remained in the event.
Criminal Charges for Theft by Deception
After being placed under arrest, the suspect was charged with a number of crimes, including theft by deception, trademark counterfeiting and criminal mischief.
In addition to the theft and fraud charges, the suspect was also charged with copyright infringement because investigators determined that he was selling counterfeit DVDs. As a result of the copyright fraud charges, the suspect was sentenced to serve five years in NJ State Prison. The suspect was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of more than $1 million.
Now the suspect faces additional prison time after being indicted on the other charges by an Atlantic County grand jury. Since the theft by deception charge is classified as a second degree felony, the suspect could potentially be sentenced to another 10 years in state prison if he is convicted.
For additional information about this case, please view the NJ.com article at http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2015/07/royal_flush_man_indicted_after_clogging_casino_pip.html.
NJ prosecutors take casino crimes very seriously and often seek maximum penalties. That’s why it is critical that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend you against charges of theft or fraud at an Atlantic City casino. John W. Tumelty is an experienced attorney who has successfully represented clients throughout South Jersey. Call him today to schedule a free consultation about your case.