Eight Federally Indicted For the Embezzlement and Laundering of Funds from the Miccosukee Casino
On August 7, 2019, Ariana Fajardo Orshan, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Division, and Roland D. Pandolfi, Chief of Police, Miccosukee Police Department, announced the unsealing of a 63-count indictment, charging eight (8) Miami-Dade County residents with computer fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and making false statements to law enforcement, relating to a fraud scheme involving electronic gaming machines at the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming in Miami, Florida. Charged in the indictment were Michel Aleu, 41, Lester Lavin, 43, Yohander Jorrin Melhen, 42, Leonardo Betancourt, 46, Maria Del Pilar Aleu, 39, Anisleydi Vergel Hermida, 30, Milagros Marile Acosta Torres, 33, and Yusmary Shirley Duran, 40.
The indictment alleges that beginning on or about January 29, 2011, and continuing through on or about May 27, 2015, Miccosukee Resort & Gaming employees Aleu, Lavin, Melhen, and Betancourt embezzled more than $5 million in cash from the Miccosukee casino. According to the indictment, Aleu, Lavin, Melhen, Betancourt, and their unindicted co-conspirators, tampered with the electronic gaming machines and caused the machines to generate false and fraudulent credit vouchers or tickets, which the defendants then exchanged for cash at ATMs located on the casino floor, or from floor cashiers or the casino treasury.
Further alleged is that all of the defendants committed money laundering offenses, involving the computer fraud proceeds that Aleu, Lavin, Melhen, and Betancourt embezzled from the casino. According to the indictment, the defendants used the stolen funds to purchase and/or maintain various asset including the defendants’ residences, various investment properties, Florida Prepaid College Plan accounts for certain of the defendants’ children, and certain vehicles. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of these assets.
United States Attorney Fajardo Orshan commends the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Miccosukee Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dwayne E. Williams.
An indictment contains mere allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.