Monday, May 4, 2009

Column: Trial Begins Monday On Casino Cheating Scam

By Ken Davison
Feather News

A scam ran at both the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods crap tables would begin when the cheaters approached the tables using the code words "strawberry daiquirie" or "hot chocolate." After hearing these or other code words, the dealers would take bets from the cheating players after the dice were rolled.

Jury selection will begin Monday in the trial for the alleged mastermind of the scam. Richard S. Taylor of Memphis, Tennessee. Taylor, 43, pleaded not guilty to charges of cheating, conspiracy to commit cheating at gambling, first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny.

More than a dozen people were charged in the scam, including craps dealers who claimed the scam had been going on for years. The cheating players would place bets for dealers or would meet up with the casino employees to pay them for allowing the players to place late bets. Police said one dealer alone, Mattie Tarlton, is alleged to have received about $60,000.

The State Police Casino Unit began the investigating in December 2007 after a floor person at Foxwoods told a manager that a craps dealer was cheating. Taylor and Tarlton were the first of several arrests.

In the game of craps, players can make bets in two ways: putting their chips on certain parts of the table or by calling out bets before the dice land on the table. Taylor said he always calls out his bets. Taylor allegedly told colluding dealers that they could identify other participants in the scam when these players used certain code words, like "strawberry daiquirie" or "hot chocolate."

Shortly after the arrests, this reporter walked up to various table games blurting out random words like "olive martini" or "blueberry cheesecake" but got no reaction from dealers. However, when the drink called "sex on the beach" was blurted out, dealers would inevitably look up and we think this lead might possibly require a separate investigation.