Thursday, October 30, 2008

Borgata Poker Scam Artists Plead Not Guilty

Maybe they think they did nothing wrong or perhaps they can get away with scamming people out of lots of money. Maybe it's a good thing that they try to get out of this mess. Personally, I find it stupid that anyone would leave the safer confines of a regulated poker room and go up to someone's room.

Here's the latest article from The Press of Atlantic City regarding the idiots who went up to this room and how the defendants have pled not guilty. Good for them.

MAYSLANDING — The last of four defendants indicted earlier this month for allegedly organizing a high-tech gambling scheme at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment hearing Thursday.

James Harrison, 42, of Duluth, Minn., is accused of renting a room at the Borgata to host private, high-stakes games of Chinese poker, backgammon and chess along with Joseph Ingargiola, 51, of Las Vegas; Stephen Phillips, 53, of Las Vegas; and Steven Forte, 52, of Las Vegas , authorities say.

They rigged a nearby room with surveillance equipment and computers to cheat a high-roller out of tens of thousands of dollars, according to the indictment.

But shortly before the victim was to arrive, State Police searched the two hotel rooms, arrested the four men and seized the equipment.

The men were indicted by an Atlantic County grand jury Oct. 2 on charges of second-degree attempted theft by deception, state Attorney General Anne Milgram said.

Harrison’s attorney, James Leonard Jr., waived a reading of the indictment Thursday and entered a not guilty plea on his behalf before Superior Court Judge Michael Connor.

Ingargiola, Phillips and Forte all pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment hearing on Monday. Ingargiola is represented by Jerry Elashmawi. Phillips is represented by Joseph Levin. Forte is represented by Stephen Funk.

Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine. Each of the defendants was released on bail after the June 7, 2007, arrests.

The indictment alleges the four men plotted to cheat a man, identified only as "J.H.," who was invited to participate in a tournament involving the high-stakes games in a Borgata hotel room. The four men allegedly rigged a second room with hidden surveillance cameras, audio equipment, computers and other high-tech devices that would be used to cheat the victim out of more than $75,000, according to the indictment.

The defendants allegedly intended to use the equipment to secretly monitor the games from the second room. The victim was to play an opponent who was part of the alleged scheme. The defendants allegedly planned to use marked playing cards for the Chinese poker so they could identify the victim's cards and transmit instructions to the opposing player, who would be wearing a concealed earpiece.

They also intended to use the equipment to monitor the games of backgammon and chess so computer programs could be used to calculate the countermoves that offered the best odds of winning, authorities said.

Deputy Attorney General Kerry DiJoseph of the Division of Criminal Justice Major Crimes Bureau - Casino Prosecution Unit, is handling the case for the state.

The attorneys are scheduled to appear in court Nov. 17 without their clients for a management conference, Connor said. The defendants and their attorneys will all appear in court together Dec. 1, he said.

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