Former Mohegan Sun Casino Boss Arraigned On Conspiracy Charges

April 11, 2018 GMT

PLAINS TWP. — A former Mohegan Sun Pocono boss accused of conspired in a rigged Easter egg drawing in exchange for a cut of the winnings was arraigned on felony charges Wednesday.

Robert Joseph Pellegrini, 52, the former vice president of player development at the casino, was arraigned on felony counts of theft and receiving stolen property, as well as a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to participate in a rigged contest. Magisterial District Judge Joseph D. Spagnuolo Jr. set Pellegrini’s bail at $15,000 scheduled a preliminary hearing for April 24.

Pellegrini, of Fairview Twp., is already serving 32 months at Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution after pleading guilty to federal money-laundering conspiracy charges stemming from a scam that cost the casino more than $420,000.

The new charges stem from a rigged Easter sweepstakes contest that took place April 27, 2014, in which gambler Mark Joseph Heltzel, 53, of Dallas — Pellegrini’s co-conspirator in the previous conspiracy case — took the $10,000 grand prize.

Several weeks before the contest, casino host Kenneth Rowlands, 32, of Kingston, approached another employee, Colin Ray Boecker, 33, of Tonawanda, New York, and put in the fix to ensure Heltzel won, according to prosecutors.

In exchange for a cut of the winnings, Boecker told Rowlands and Heltzel which Easter egg contained the grand prize, as well as which contained the second-place prize of $7,500 in free play at the casino, according to the charges.

The charges say that Heltzel also told Pellegrini about the scheme because he knew the casino boss would have been upset if he hadn’t been informed.

After Heltzel drew the grand prize egg and collected $10,000, he gave Pellegrini $2,000 and paid Boecker and Rowlands $1,000 each for their cooperation, according to the complaint.

Boecker and Rowlands were previously arraigned on charges of theft, receiving stolen property, conspiracy and participating in a rigged contest. They are both free on $15,000 unsecured bail as they await trial.

Pellegrini, meanwhile, is serving his sentence on the federal money-laundering conspiracy charge at Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution, with a release date of Oct. 29, 2019.

In that case, prosecutors say Pellegrini used his executive access to make copies of the cards and put free play on them using player’s card information collected by former cocktail waitress Rochelle Poszeluznyj, 40, of Kingston.

Heltzel, who was Poszeluznyj’s boyfriend, then used the cards to gamble at video poker machines, raking in $422,147 between May 2014 and April 2015, according to prosecutors.

Heltzel and Poszeluznyj also pleaded guilty to money-laundering conspiracy. Heltzel was sentenced to 18 months in prison, a term he is serving at U.S. Penitentiary Lewisburg.

Poszeluznyj, who prosecutors said only got about $2,000 from the conspiracy, was sentenced to two years of probation, the first six months on house arrest.