Indiana Casino Dealer Found Guilty in Cheating Conspiracy
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 16, 2010|
WASHINGTON—Mike Waseleski, 46, a former casino card dealer, was found guilty by a federal jury yesterday in San Diego for his role in a cheating scheme by a group of conspirators known as the “Tran Organization” to steal approximately $1.5 million from Resorts East Chicago Casino, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy for the Southern District of California.
Waseleski, of Hammond, Ind., and six additional defendants were charged in a one-count indictment returned Sept. 1, 2009, with one count of conspiracy to commit several offenses against the United States, including conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce.
According to evidence presented at trial, Waseleski and others executed a “false shuffle” cheating scheme on games at Resorts East Chicago Casino, in East Chicago, Ind. According to evidence presented at trial, members of the criminal organization bribed casino card dealers, including Waseleski, to perform false shuffles during card games, thereby creating “slugs” or groups of unshuffled cards. After tracking the order of cards dealt in a card game, evidence showed that a member of the organization would signal to the card dealer to perform a false shuffle, and members of the group would then bet on the known order of cards when the slug appeared on the table. By doing so, members of the conspiracy allegedly repeatedly won thousands of dollars during card games, including winning several hundred thousand dollars on one occasion.
According to evidence presented at trial, members of the organization used sophisticated mechanisms for tracking the order of cards during games, including hidden transmitter devices and specially created software that would predict the order in which cards would reappear during blackjack games.
At sentencing, scheduled for March 28, 2011, Waseleski faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and payment of restitution to the victim.
The investigation of the Tran Organization’s alleged casino-cheating conspiracy has led to the filing of three separate indictments. The charges contained in the indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
To date, 41 defendants have pleaded guilty to charges relating to the casino-cheating conspiracy, including: Phuong Quoc Truong, Tai Khiem Tran, Anh Phuong Tran, Phat Ngoc Tran, Martin Lee Aronson, Liem Thanh Lam, George Michael Lee, Tien Duc Vu, Son Hong Johnson, Barry Wellford, John Tran, Willy Tran, Tuan Mong Le, Duc Cong Nguyen, Han Truong Nguyen, Roderick Vang Thor, Sisouvanh Mounlasy, Navin Nith, Renee Cuc Quang, Ui Suk Weller, Phally Ly, Khunsela Prom, Hop Nguyen, Hogan Ho, Darrell Saicocie, Bryan Arce, Qua Le, Outtama Keovongsa, Leap Kong, Thang Viet Huynh, Don Man Duong, Dan Thich, Jimmy Ha, Eric Isbell, Brandon Pete Landry, James Root, Jesus Rodriguez, Jason Cavin, Nedra Fay Landry, Connie Holmes, and Geraldo Montaz. These defendants admitted to targeting, with the aid of co-conspirators, a combined total of approximately 27 casinos in the United States and Canada during the course of the conspiracy, including:
- Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Miss.;
- Casino Rama, in Orillia, Ontario, Canada;
- Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn.;
- Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, Miss.;
- Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, La.;
- Horseshoe Casino and Hotel in Tunica, Miss.;
- Isle of Capri Casino in Westlake, La.;
- Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Ind.;
- Mohegan Sun Resort Casino in Uncasville, Conn.;
- Palace Station Casino in Las Vegas;
- Resorts East Chicago Hotel and Casino in East Chicago;
- Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, Calif.
- Cache Creek Indian Bingo and Casino in Brooks, Calif.;
- Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash.;
- Imperial Palace Casino in Biloxi;
- Argosy Casino in Baton Rouge, La.;
- Trump 29 Casino in Coachella, Calif.;
- Isle of Capri Casino in Bossier City;
- Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, Calif.;
- Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs, Calif.;
- Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif.;
- L'Auberge du Lac Casino in Lake Charles, La.;
- Nooksack River Casino in Deming, Wash.;
- Barona Valley Ranch Casino and Resort in Lakeside, Calif.;
- Caesars Indiana Hotel and Casino in Elizabeth, Ind.;
- Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas; and
- Harrah’s Casino in Lake Charles, La.
Two other defendants, Ha Thuy Giang and Tammie Huynh, pleaded guilty to tax offenses stemming from the investigation, and Khai Hong Tran admitted to the offenses alleged in a 2007 U.S. indictment when he pleaded guilty to casino-cheating offenses in Canada. Van Tran is scheduled for trial in February 2011.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s San Diego Field Office; the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; the San Diego Sheriff’s Department; and the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Gambling Control. The investigation has received assistance from federal, state, tribal and foreign authorities, including: the Ontario Provincial Police; the National Indian Gaming Commission; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington; FBI Resident Agencies in Gulfport, Miss., Tacoma, Wash., and Toledo, Ohio; the Indiana State Police; the Rumsey Rancheria Tribal Gaming Agency; the Sycuan Gaming Commission; the Barona Gaming Commission; the Mississippi Gaming Commission; and the Washington State Gambling Commission.
The prosecution of the case is led by the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section (OCRS). OCRS Trial Attorneys Joseph K. Wheatley and Robert S. Tully are prosecuting the case in San Diego.