The Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Pennsylvania has uncovered an internal theft ring that netted the scammers $419k of the casino’s money.
On Tuesday, Wilkes-Barre police arrested Robert Joseph Pellegrini, the casino’s VP of player development, on charges of theft, identity theft, fraud, conspiracy, computer trespassing and other transgressions. Also arrested was casino beverage server Rochelle Poszeluznyj and frequent casino customer Mark Joseph Heltzel.
Police said the scam involved Poszeluznyj collecting player reward ID and PIN numbers from customers when she took their drink orders. Poszeluznyj would pass on these numbers to Pellegrini, who would use them to make bogus reward cards, which were loaded up with free slot play credits.
The cards were then passed to Heltzel, who’d use them to gamble, while winnings were split among the three conspirators. The state police Bureau of Gaming claimed the scammers earned $418,793 in winnings from $478,100 in unauthorized free slot play between May 2014 and April 2015.
Citizens Voice quoted court documents indicating that the scam was rumbled when casino dealer Matthew Crane tipped off authorities in April 2015. Crane, who was romantically involved with Poszeluznyj, reportedly developed tension with Heltzel, who was also romantically linked with Poszeluznyj.
Following Crane’s tipoff, casino investigators studied surveillance footage of Heltzel’s activities, which showed him using multiple player reward cards, none of which were in his name, on three different occasions over a single week.
Internal reviews revealed instances in which slot play credits were loaded on up to six reward cards in quick succession, and these cards were used shortly thereafter at a single slot machine.
Poszeluznyj reportedly admitted that she’d obtained more than 50 cards at the request of Pellegrini and Heltzel. Mohegan Sun Pocono officials confirmed that both Poszeluznyj and Pellegrini were no longer working at the casino.
Poszeluznyj was arraigned on Wednesday and released without bail. Heltzel remains in custody after the court set bail at $500k. Pellegrini is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.
The Mohegan Sun’s original casino in Connecticut was hit by its own insider theft scandal in November. In that case, a blackjack dealer has been accused of overpaying a player-accomplice over $79k by sneaking single $100 chips into stacks of $5 chips on multiple occasions.