CG Tech fine approved; Ting gets two years; baccarat cheat gets 47 months

TAGs: baccarat, Cantor Gaming, cg technology, Department of Justice, edwin ting, Lee Amaitis, taiwanchik-trincher organization

Edwin Ting (pictured) has become the latest defendant to be sentenced for his role in the Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization. In September, Ting pled guilty to running high-stakes illegal poker games between 2010 and April 2013, when the US Department of Justice shut down the Russian-American poker and sports betting ring. On Tuesday, Judge Jesse M. Furman sentenced the 42-year-old Ting to five months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. Ting, who the DOJ said had earned “millions of dollars” for hosting the poker games, had already agreed to forfeit $2m as part of his plea. Of the 33 individuals charged last April, 25 have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing and the DOJ has reaped over $68m in fines and forfeitures.

The Nevada Gaming Commission has unanimously approved the $5.5m fine the state Gaming Control Board slapped on CG Technology (aka Cantor Gaming) for its failure to properly oversee the activities of its employees. Earlier this month, CG/Cantor was hit with an 18-count civil complaint regarding its failures to adhere to various state gaming regulations, not the least of which was allowing former VP Michael Colbert to run an illegal messenger bettor ring out of the Nevada casinos at which CG/Cantor operates sportsbooks.

The record fine was enough to promp Daily Beast contributor John L. Smith to wonder why Nevada regulators hadn’t seen fit to banish CG Tech CEO Lee Amaitis, under whose watch the shenanigans occurred and who Smith dubbed “the luckiest man in Vegas.” In October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amaitis was the subject of a federal investigation into the illegal betting affair, which prompted parent company Cantor Fitzgerald to issue a statement calling such suggestions “baseless and false.” Amaitis attended Thursday’s Commission hearing but chose not to respond to Commissioner Dr. Tony Alamo’s warning that he was “not afraid of revocation” of a gaming licensee’s right to operate in the state should CG Tech find itself the subject of any future disciplinary hearing.  

Sticking with Nevada, a federal court has sentenced a Chinese-born woman to 47 months in prison for cheating Las Vegas casinos out of millions of dollars at baccarat. Irene Li sought asylum in the US in 1990, claiming that vengeful Chinese authorities wanted her hide for her activities in the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protest that was ultimately crushed by the regime. However, once in the US, Li and her husband Xi Sheng Zhang launched a ‘chip-rolling’ scheme to crush Vegas casinos.

The couple’s scam, which began in 2004 and was shut down in 2009, worked by enlisting recruits who opened lines of credit at Vegas casinos. Li and Zhang would deposit money into the recruits’ bank accounts to make it look like they were wealthy individuals, and they also bribed casino staff to approve the credit lines. Li and Zhang then controlled the action at these recruits’ baccarat tables, ‘rolling the chips’ to make it appear they were losing money, while secretly pocketing the chips that other recruits would then redeem for cash.

Originally facing a 29-count indictment, Li pled guilty in October to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In addition to her nearly four-year stint in stripes, US District Judge Andrew Gordon ordered Li to pay $2.2m in restitution, which will be split between the Planet Hollywood, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Mirage and MGM Grand casinos. Li’s public defender told the court his client was worried she’d be deported to China at the conclusion of her prison term but Gordon was unsympathetic, saying her earlier democratic impulses didn’t excuse her criminal actions. Zhang, who was indicted along with his wife, remains at large.


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