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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 20, 2019

Bellingham Woman who Stole $200,000 from Tribal Casino Sentenced to Prison

Defendant used Employee Access to Rob Vault – Concocted Story about Man with a Gun and Bomb forcing her to Commit Robbery

          A Bellingham, Washington woman who used her employee access to steal $200,000 from the Lummi Nation’s Silver Reef Casino was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to time-served (approximately 10 months in prison) and two years of supervised release, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  SHANNON MARIE MORRIS is a Lummi Tribal member and was an employee of the casino on November 24, 2018, when she stole $200,000 from the vault at the casino.  Hours after the theft, MORRIS led law enforcement to where she had stashed the cash, but not before making a false report about a bomb in the casino that forced the evacuation of the casino and adjacent hotel.  At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones noted that MORRIS placed her young son in harm’s way and adversely impacted the lives of a lot of people due to the bomb scare.

            According to records filed in the case, it was just before 3:00 AM on November 24, 2018 when MORRIS walked into the employee entrance at the rear of the casino and got another employee to let her into the cash vault.  MORRIS filled a bag with four bricks of cash totaling $200,000 and told the employee in the vault not to push the panic button.  MORRIS ran from the vault, got in her car and drove away.  MORRIS called 9-1-1 claiming that a man with a gun had forced her to rob the casino and that the man claimed to have placed a bomb at the casino which he would trigger if she did not steal the money.  MORRIS claimed the man had jumped out of her car with the money.

            Because of the report of a bomb, law enforcement from the Lummi Nation, Bellingham and Ferndale Police Departments, the FBI and the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department evacuated the hotel and casino.  No bomb was located.

            While being questioned by law enforcement, MORRIS’ statement changed over time: initially she claimed that a strange man with a gun held her and her child hostage and forced her to steal the money from the casino.  Later she admitted she was alone in the vehicle with her child when she drove to the casino and stole the money.  MORRIS led the investigators to the location in Ferndale where she had hidden the money near a tree at the side of the road.

            While the money was recovered, the Lummi Nation still lost money due to the evacuation of the hotel and casino on a busy holiday weekend.  The funds generated by the hotel and casino are used to provide services to the tribal members and their families.

            On December 12, 2018, MORRIS was indicted for theft by an employee of a gaming establishment on Indian lands.  She pleaded guilty to that charge on June 12, 2019.

            The case was investigated by the Lummi Nation Police Department and the FBI, with assistance from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

            The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Tate London

Topic(s): 
Indian Country Law and Justice
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated September 20, 2019