Casino Slots Scammers Sign Plea Deal with Prosecutors

All of the three defendants involved in a $422,000 slots machine scam at the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Pennsylvania have now signed plea agreements with federal prosecutors in return for reduced sentences.

As a result, the casino’s former VP of player development, Robert Pellegrini, 50, (photo) and a casino customer Mark J. Heltzel, 52, have now pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, while former cocktail waitress, Rochelle Poszeluznyj, 38, already plead guilty to the same charge back in August.

According to prosecutors, the scheme involved Poszeluznyj collecting loyalty card information and personal identification numbers from the casino’s high-end customers as she served them drinks. She would subsequently pass the information on to Pellegrini who made duplicates of the cards and added $478,350 in free credit, which Heltzel then used to illegally win $422,147 at the Mohegan Sun Pocono between May 2014 and April 2015. The alleged scam apparently used around 160 player accounts, with Heltzel winning three $2,000 slots jackpots during its year-long run.

The Pennsylvania State Police Office of Gaming Enforcement then charged the three defendants in January of 2016, and by April Pellegrini and Heltzel plead not guilty to a 21-count indictment which included charges of criminal conspiracy, fraud and aggravated identity theft. Despite their latest plea agreements, however, each of the defendants still face the prospect of spending up to 20 years behind bars, in addition to a hefty $500,000 fine.

Pellegrini, Heltzel, and Poszeluznyj managed to get away with their scheme until casino employee Matthew Crane became suspicious of their activities and reported them to his shift manager. Interestingly, Crane and Poszeluznyj had been involved in a relationship, but tensions rose after Heltzel also became involved with the cocktail waitress. After Crane’s shift manager then reported matters to the casino’s more senior staff, an investigation was launched by the director of slot operations who subsequently uncovered the scheme.

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