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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Former Employee Of Santa Ana Star Casino Pleads Guilty To Embezzling Money From The Casino

Wife Pleads Guilty to Participating in Husband’s Embezzlement Scheme

ALBUQUERQUE – John Hoffman, 42, of Rio Rancho, N.M., entered a guilty plea this morning to the felony offense of theft by an employee of a Indian gaming establishment. His wife and accomplice, Michelle Fischer, 42, entered a guilty plea to the misdemeanor offense of theft from an Indian gaming establishment. The guilty pleas were announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and Police Chief Harry Betz of the Santa Ana Tribal Police Department.

Hoffman pled guilty to a felony information charging him with embezzling money belonging to the Santa Ana Star Casino, which is operated by Santa Ana Pueblo, from Dec. 2010 to Aug. 2011. At the time, Hoffman was employed in the Marketing Department of the Santa Ana Star Casino. In entering his guilty plea, Hoffman admitted that, during the period covered by the information, he abused his position at the Santa Ana Star Casino by gaining access to active and inactive “Player’s Club” cards and adding money and credits to the cards without proper basis or authority. Hoffman further admitted that he then gave the cards to Fischer knowing that she intended to distribute the cards to others who would use the cards to gamble and who would give Hoffman and Fischer a percentage of their winnings.

Fischer pled guilty to a misdemeanor information charging her with theft of money belonging to the Santa Ana Star Casino. In entering her guilty plea, Fischer admitted obtaining “Player’s Club” cards to which she was not entitled from a casino employee, and giving the cards to others who used the cards to gamble with the understanding that Fischer would receive a percentage of their winnings. Fischer also admitted that she also used some of the cards to gamble knowing that she was not entitled to do so and for the purpose of obtaining a financial benefit.

Hoffman and Fischer were both released on conditions of release pending their sentencing hearings, which have yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Hoffman faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and Fischer faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison. Hoffman and Fischer will be required to make restitution to Santa Ana Star Casino in the amount for which the Court determined each to be responsible.

These cases were investigated by the Santa Ana Tribal Police Department and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle T. Nayback.

Updated January 26, 2015