WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in San Diego has indicted an additional eight defendants for conspiracy to cheat a total of 11 casinos across the country, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Karen P. Hewitt announced today.
A one-count indictment, handed up in the Southern District of California on Sept. 1, 2009, and unsealed on Sept. 15, 2009, charges seven defendants 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. Defendants charged in this indictment include Jason Cavin, Connie Marie Holmes, Brandon Pete Landry, Nedra Fay Landry, Geraldo Montaz, Jesus Rodriguez and Mike Waseleski.
According to the indictment, from approximately March 2002 through July 2006, the defendants and co-conspirators allegedly formed and participated in a conspiracy, defined in the indictment as the "Tran Organization," to cheat at gambling in casinos across the United States. The indictment lists 10 casinos that were allegedly targeted by members of the conspiracy, including five casinos that are owned and operated by Indian tribes.
An additional defendant, Jimmy Ha, was charged in a superseding indictment that was returned in the Southern District of California on Sept. 1, 2009, and unsealed on Sept. 3, 2009, for an alleged conspiracy, defined in the indictment as the "Tran Organization," to cheat the Barona Valley Ranch Casino and Resort in Lakeside, Calif., in 2005. James Root, who was previously indicted in connection with this case, was also charged in the superseding indictment.
If convicted on the conspiracy charge, defendants face a maximum five-year prison sentence.
According to both indictments, the defendants and others executed 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. 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, members of the conspiracy won thousands of dollars during card games.
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.
To date, 31 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, 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.
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 the 2007 U.S. indictment when he pleaded guilty to casino cheating offenses in Canada.
The prosecution of the case is led by the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. Department of Justice Trial Attorneys Joseph K. Wheatley and Robert S. Tully are prosecuting the case in San Diego. 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, Canada, 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, 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.
An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Anyone with information relating to the investigation may contact the FBI’s San Diego Field Office at (858) 565-1255.