News and Press Releases

Defendant Worked as Pit Boss, Stole $5,400 in Chips

January 25, 2008

DONALD C. HATCH III, 46, of Tulalip, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to three months in prison, three months of electronic home monitoring and three years of supervised release for Theft by an Employee of a Gaming Establishment on Indian Lands. HATCH, an enrolled Tulalip tribal member, pleaded guilty October 3, 2007, admitting that between July 2006, and March 2007, he stole $5,400 worth of chips from the casino’s gaming tables. HATCH had family and friends cash the chips for him. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez told HATCH he was particularly concerned that “you dragged family members into this scheme.”

According to facts stated in the plea agreement, on March 7, 2007, Tulalip Tribal Gaming inspectors noticed HATCH on surveillance video removing chips from a roulette table. When confronted by the inspectors HATCH pulled four chips from his clothing. Later a search of HATCH’s locker at the casino revealed three more stolen $100 chips. In order to keep investigators from learning of the thefts, HATCH would have family members or friends cash four or five chips at a time at the casino cage. In all HATCH stole $5,400. HATCH paid the restitution amount today.

In asking Judge Martinez to impose prison time, Assistant Untied States Attorney J. Tate London noted that the U.S. Department of Justice has stepped up efforts to protect the integrity of tribal gaming to protect tribal resources. “It is reported that the non-tribal gaming industry (e.g., Las Vegas) typically loses six percent of its revenues to fraud and theft. Applying this same percentage to Indian gaming, it is estimated that in 2004, $1.1 billion dollars of gaming revenues was lost... primarily due to internal theft or embezzlement, and to criminal enterprises or organizations involved in cheating scams,” London wrote in his sentencing memo. By law the gaming revenue is to pay for tribal economic development programs, housing, and education.

Judge Martinez noted that HATCH had “violated the trust of his people.” The judge said “in effect you stole from every single person in your community.... People who desperately needed help.”

The case was investigated by Tulalip Tribal Gaming Agency and the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Tate London, the Tribal Liaison for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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