Casino employees charged with slot scheme

Posted at 8:54 PM, Jan 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-20 20:54:15-05

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — A casino vice president plotted with a cocktail waitress and a gambler to steal more than $400,000 from a northeastern Pennsylvania casino, orchestrating a scam involving stolen identities and free slots play, authorities said.

Robert Pellegrini, a former executive at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, was charged along with server Rochelle Poszeluznyj and patron Mark Heltzel. They each face more than 170 counts including theft, identity theft and criminal conspiracy.

State police allege Poszeluznyj collected players' casino card numbers and personal identification numbers when they paid for drinks and passed them along to Pellegrini to make duplicate cards. Pellegrini added fraudulent free slots play to the duplicates and gave them to Heltzel to play at the machines, according to court documents.

They split $418,793 in winnings from May 2014 through April 2015 on $478,100 worth of fraudulent free slots play, police said.

A magistrate set Heltzel's bail Wednesday at $500,000 — more than the amount of the alleged fraud — raising strenuous objections from his attorney. Poszeluznyj was freed on unsecured bail. Both declined comment.

Pellegrini's initial court appearance was set for Thursday, and a message left at his home wasn't immediately returned.

Pellegrini and Poszeluznyj are no longer employed at Mohegan Sun, the casino said.

Police said no patrons lost any of their earned free slots play because the defendants used only the fraudulent slots play, leaving intact the amount that patrons would normally expect on their players' cards in an effort to hide the theft.