News and Press Releases

New York Based Group Targeted Emerald Queen, Clearwater and Snoqualmie Casinos

February 3, 2009

Four men have been charged in connection with a scheme to cheat tribal casinos at the roulette table. The first of the group of defendants, MARCOS A. PEYNADO, 27, of Bronx, New York, makes his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle this afternoon at 2:30. PEYNADO is charged with two counts of Theft of Funds from a Gaming Establishment on Indian Lands. Three other men are charged in the case: JORGE ARMANDO ACOSTA, 29, of Bronx, New York, FREDERICO RICARDO FERMIN, 28, of New York, New York, and JOAN MANUEL JIMENEZ, 27, of Hainmosa, Dominican Republic. All three are being sought by law enforcement.

According to the criminal complaint filed in federal court, the men initiated a cheating scheme involving what are called “non-value” chips used at the roulette tables. These “non-value” chips are assigned to specific tables and have their worth designated at the time they are purchased. The value that is set can range from $1 to $25. The essence of the cheating scheme allegedly employed by this group is that a player purchased the chips at a $1 value, then secretly transfers the chips to another player, who ultimately redeems them for $25 per chip. In this manner between October 25 and October 28, 2008, the group stole approximately $11,520 from the Emerald Queen Casino. While two members of the team secretly remove the chips from the table for exchange, the other members work as “blockers” to hide the transactions from casino security cameras.

On October 30, 2008, the team attempted to use the scheme to steal from the Clearwater Casino, but security prevented the theft. Security had been alerted to a group of men matching the description of the defendants who were attempting to secretly switch the “non-value” chips at roulette tables in the area. However, on November 10, 2008, the group again attempted the cheat scheme at the Snoqualmie Casino, and JORGE ARMANDO ACOSTA and MARCOS A. PEYNADO were arrested as they left the casino. ACOSTA posted bail and is being sought by law enforcement. The loss to the casino was $1,440.

Theft from a Gaming Establishment on Tribal Land is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the FBI, the Washington State Gambling Commission and the Tribal Gaming Commissions of the Puyallup, Suquamish and Snoqualmie Tribes.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Tate London. Mr. London serves as the Tribal Liaison for the United States Attorney’s Office.

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

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