Three Gambling Cheats Sentenced in Federal Court in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, Ellen B. Knowlton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for Nevada, and Keith Copher, Chief of Enforcement for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, announced that LIANG TUNG CHAN, JIE BO WU, and JUN HUAI MA were sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Roger Hunt. All three pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Participate in an Enterprise Through a Pattern of Racketeering, a violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1962(d). CHAN was sentenced to four months of imprisonment and four months of home detention; WU was sentenced to six months of imprisonment and six months of home detention; and MA was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment. In October 2000, CHAN, WU, and MA were three of 17 individuals charged in a six-count Indictment with Racketeering Conspiracy, Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering, Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering, Aiding and Abetting, and a RICO forfeiture. All three pleaded guilty to Count One of the Indictment. Eight other defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing; one defendant died; four are fugitives; and one was convicted of attempted murder in Canada and is awaiting trial on drug charges.
According to the Indictment, the defendants were members of an organization which cheated casinos out of money. The members of the organization developed methods for cheating four basic types of casino card games: Mini-Baccarat, Baccarat, Midi-Baccarat, and Blackjack. Between November 1994 and February 1999, the organization operated in the United States and Canada and used the cash derived from the cheating conspiracy to promote the organization and to continue cheating at casinos. The members of the organization used aliases, received training, and practiced their cheating techniques. The members of the organization cheated by marking cards, peeking at the cards, and distracting the dealers. They also used secret codes to communicate and bet in patterns to maximize their winnings.
The Indictment indicates that in November 1995, CHAN and WU traveled with members of the cheating group from the United States to the Windsor Casino in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and that they won approximately $142,000 by cheating at baccarat and peeking at the cards in the dealer's shoe. The group was caught, but was able to transfer $45,000 of their illegal winnings to various banks in New York City and San Francisco before getting caught. On February 3, 1999, CHAN and five other defendants cheated at Harrah's Casino in Las Vegas by crimping cards in blackjack, with some of the participants acting as card markers and others taking advantage of the marked cards.
MA was charged in the Indictment with eight cheating scams: on June 7, 1996, MA and six members of the conspiracy cheated the Rio Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas out of approximately $209,465 by crimping cards in a baccarat game; on June 10, 1996, MA and other members of the organization cheated at Harrah's Casino Hotel in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada, at the card game of mini-baccarat by marking cards; on June 21, 1996, MA and other members of the conspiracy cheated the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas out of $256,010 by marking cards in a mini-baccarat game; on June 22, 1996, MA and eight other members of the group cheated at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas at the card game of mini-baccarat by marking cards, and won $409,820; on June 29, 1996, MA cheated with six other members of the group at the Trop World in Atlantic City, New Jersey, by peeking at cards in a baccarat game; on July 5, 1996, MA cheated with seven other members of the group at the Merv Griffin Resort International in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the card game of baccarat by peeking at cards; between March 23, 1997, and March 24, 1997, MA cheated with two other members of the organization at the New York, New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas by marking cards at mini-baccarat; and between March 25, 1997, and March 26, 1997, MA cheated with two other members of the group at the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas by marking cards at mini-baccarat, winning approximately $45,000 in gaming chips which they converted to cash at the casino cage.
In addition to the sentence of imprisonment, the defendants were placed on supervised release for three years and were ordered to pay restitution to the victims of the offenses. CHAN was ordered to pay $72,271.86 in restitution; MA was ordered to pay $1,294,230 in restitution; and WU was ordered to pay $2,000,000 in restitution. The defendants were also ordered to forfeit to the United States Government the monies which were obtained illegally. Following their release from prison, the defendants must find suitable gainful employment and may not gamble or frequent gaming establishments, as a condition of their supervised release. The defendants were all permitted to self-surrender to the designated Federal Bureau of Prison facilities.
The case was investigated by the Nevada Gaming Control Board Enforcement Division and the FBI. The defendants were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Bliss of the Organized Crime Strike Force Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office.