Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guilty Verdict In Connecticut's First Casino Cheating Trial

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media is an article from The Day newspaper on a casino cheating trial in which a guilty verdict was announced for the alleged ring leader. The reporter, Karen Florin, used to cover the Mohegan Tribe before being assigned to the police beat at The Day.

Guilty verdict in casino cheating conspiracy trial
By Karen Florin
The Day
May 27, 2009

A Memphis, Tenn., man known as “Mr. Casino” took his best shot in New London Superior Court and lost in the first major cheating trial in the state that hosts two of the largest casinos in the world.

A six-member jury that had started deliberating on Thursday found 43-year-old Richard S. Taylor guilty this morning of cheating, conspiracy to commit cheating, first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny. Taylor, who has been incarcerated since he was arrested eight months ago, faces decades in prison when Judge Stuart M. Schimelman sentences him on July 10.

During the trial, former Foxwoods Resort Casino employees testified that Taylor had recruited them to pay players for late or illegal bets and had met up with them outside of the casino to pay them their share of the winnings. The conspiracy cost Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun about $70,000.

Taylor had claimed that he had a winning system for craps and did not need to cheat.

Prosecutors Stephen M. Carney and David J. Smith had called a craps expert to debunk his claim and had set up a makeshift craps layout in the courtroom to demonstrate the game.

“Mr. Smith and I appreciate the jury's work,” Carney said after the verdict was read. “This was a complicated case and they clearly worked hard.”

Casino and Mashantucket tribal officials who watched the trial shook hands with the prosecutor before making phone calls to gaming control officials in Las Vegas and Atlantic City who had been watching the trial with interest. Taylor has been barred from casinos throughout the country but has never been successfully prosecuted, they said.

“On behalf of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, we are very pleased with the verdict,” said Timothy D. Bohr, director of surveillance at Foxwoods. “We are very pleased with the cooperation between the state's attorney's office and the tribe. We are happy to see the system worked as was the original agreement between the state and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe.”

Connecticut state police and prosecutors have criminal jurisdiction over the casinos under compacts that were signed between the tribe and the state before Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun opened.

Taylor's attorney, Ralph U. Bergman, was not immediately available for comment. Taylor, who had expressed confidence throughout the trial and had gleefully demonstrated his “strategy” to the jury, was quiet as the verdicts were read. His family members in Memphis have been following the trial through news accounts but were unable to come to Connecticut to support him during the trial.