Bellagio Quartet in $1 Million Scam

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An amazing yet ultimately very simple crime has just hit the court in Las vegas, involving two former casino croupiers and two of their friends. Together they managed to siphon more than a million dollars off craps tables from the Bellagio casino on the Las Vegas strip.   However this didn’t involve playing roulette but a very specific table game well known for it’s fast pace and sometimes confusing gameplay.

James Cooper Jr. and Mark William Branco were both fired from the Bellagio when the scheme came to light and were later arrested. They were named with two other co-defendants with charges which included cheating at gambling and theft, which are extremely serious crimes in Nevada for obvious reasons. If found guilty they could end up with decades in prison for their offences.

Fixed Craps Game

Their particular scam involved the two dealers accepting late or marginal bets and then paying out to their friends. They deliberately chose their times and made it difficult for supervisors to spot what was happening. They chose small and insignificant bets which were also unlikely to be detected easily. Thefts from casinos like this are actually very common with hundreds being arrested each year. However this quartet, kept their scheme running for over two years which is very unusual.

The scam was manipulated with such care and precision that it was only a chance that a colleague noticed something was awry and informed his supervisors, who informed the casino investigators. The investigators then spent some time reviewing security footage, analysing the employees financial records, watching them at work and interviewing colleagues.

It soon became apparent that their accomplices were making wagers after the outcome was known and then paying them out without question. Other situations were placing bets on margins without clarifying the positions so that it was unclear about who had won.

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