Casino target of nationwide cheating ring

September 18, 2009 2:29:24 PM PDT
A dealer at a casino in East Chicago, Indiana, was recruited and trained by a national organized crime ring to cheat Resorts East Casino, according to an indictment handed up today by a federal grand jury. The dealer, Mike Waseleski, is charged with racketeering conspiracy. Waseleski and seven other dealers were charged in the sealed indictment on Sept. 1. The action was made public today in San Diego where the "Tran Organization" conspiracy was allegedly headquartered.

DOWNLOAD THE INDICTMENT DOCUMENTS: Part 1 | Part 2

According to federal agents the card-cheating organization involved dozens of people, some of whom were insiders working for at least 26 casinos including the Resorts East Chicago Hotel and Casino in East Chicago, Indiana, south of Chicago.

According to the indictment, in 2005 Waseleski was flown to Houston, TX where he learned the cheating scheme. He and the other defendants and others were allegedly taught to execute a "false shuffle" cheating scheme at casinos during blackjack and mini-baccarat games. The indictments allege that members of the criminal organization bribed casino card dealers and supervisors to perform false shuffles during card games, thereby creating "slugs" of un-shuffled cards. Federal agents say after tracking the order of cards dealt in a card game, a member of the organization would signal to the card dealer to perform a "false shuffle," and then members of the group would bet on the known order of cards when the slug appeared on the table. By doing so, investigators maintain that members of the conspiracy won thousands of dollars during card games.

Waseleski, the East Chicago dealer, is accused of helping to steal nearly $1 million between May and August of 2005.

According to a Justice Department statement Friday afternoon, there were two previous indictments in connection with the Tran Organization's alleged casino-cheating conspiracy. "Nineteen alleged members of the Tran Organization were charged in a three-count indictment returned in San Diego on May 22, 2007, and unsealed on May 24, 2007, including Phuong Quoc Truong, Van Thu Tran, 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, Willy Tran, Han Truong Nguyen and Ha Thuy Giang. Each were charged with one count of conspiracy to participate in the affairs of a racketeering enterprise, defined in the indictment as the Tran Organization; one count of conspiracy to commit several offenses against the United States, including conspiracy to steal money and other property from Indian tribal casinos; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

"Eleven additional defendants were charged in a separate indictment for conspiring to commit offenses on behalf of the Tran Organization. A one-count indictment, unsealed in the Southern District of California on Sept. 11, 2008, charged Bryan Arce, Don Man Duong, Hogan Ho, Thang Viet Huynh, Outtama Keovongsa, Leap Kong, Qua Le, Khunsela Prom, James Root, Darrell Saicocie, and Dan Thich each with one count of conspiracy to commit several offenses against the United States, including conspiracy to steal money and other property from Indian tribal casinos, and conspiracy to travel in interstate and foreign commerce in aid of racketeering."

31 defendants have pleaded guilty so far, 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, and Don Man Duong. These defendants admitted to targeting, with the aid of co-conspirators, a combined total of approximately 26 casinos in the United States and Canada during the course of the conspiracy, including:

1) Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Miss.;
2) Casino Rama, in Orillia, Ontario, Canada;
3) Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn.;
4) Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, Miss.;
5) Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, La.;
6) Horseshoe Casino and Hotel in Tunica, Miss.;
7) Isle of Capri Casino in Westlake, La.;
8) Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Ind.;
9) Mohegan Sun Resort Casino in Uncasville, Conn.;
10) Palace Station Casino in Las Vegas;
11) Resorts East Chicago Hotel and Casino in East Chicago, Ind.;
12) Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, Calif.
13) Cache Creek Indian Bingo and Casino in Brooks, Calif.;
14) Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash.;
15) Imperial Palace Casino in Biloxi, Miss.;
16) Argosy Casino in Baton Rouge, La.;
17) Trump 29 Casino in Coachella, Calif.;
18) Isle of Capri Casino in Bossier City, La.;
19) Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, Calif.;
20) Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs, Calif.;
21) Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif.;
22) L'Auberge du Lac Casino in Lake Charles, La.;
23) Nooksack River Casino in Deming, Wash.;
24) Barona Valley Ranch Casino and Resort in Lakeside, Calif.;
25) Caesars Indiana Hotel and Casino in Elizabeth, Ind.;
26) Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.


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