Fourteen Indicted In Alleged International Baccarat Cheating Scam
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ An international conspiracy that cheated the baccarat tables at two Atlantic City casinos of $2.7 million has ended with the indictment of 14 people, state law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Officials said state auditors and police from three nations traced the origins of the complex operation from its mid-1984 beginnings in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, to Hong Kong, London and eventually Atlantic City.
The indictment charges 11 businessmen and three women, most of them from Hong Kong, with scheming to beat the house by cheating at baccarat. In baccarat, a player deals cards to other players and to a representative of the gaming hall from a plastic ″shoe.″
In two gambling sessions lasting about six hours each, the 14 conspirators won $1,113,000 from the Sands Hotel and Casino and $1,590,000 from Caesars Boardwalk Regency Hotel and Casino, state officials said.
The conspiracy is the largest cheating scam uncovered in Atlantic City, officials said.
Of the accused conspirators, nine are from Hong Kong, two are from California and one is a Toronto resident, police said. The addresses of the other two suspects are unknown, officials said. Three defendants - those from California and Toronto - have been arrested.
Attorney General W. Cary Edwards said warrants have been issued for the remaining 11. Department spokesman John Hagerty said state officials are trying to work with the U.S. state and justice departments to execute the warrants, but may have to wait until the suspects return to the United States.
″We have reason to believe they’ll be re-entering the country,″ Hagerty said.
The state alleges the conspiracy was devised by Kung Wing-yiu, a Hong Kong businessman still at large, and that high-rollers were recruited from Hong Kong, Canada and California to participate.
Authorities said Kung would recruit gamblers with ″good faces,″ or who regularly gambled in Atlantic City casinos, and arrange for their travel and accommodation.
Hagerty said Poon King-chung of Foster City, Calif., served as the dealer and was able to peek at a card before dealing it with the help of a cheating device. He then would ″spirit″ the card away, or deal it, depending on whether it was a desirable card, Hagerty said.
Poon was arrested in San Mateo, Calif., along with alleged co-conspirator Tsoi Wai-chun. Both are scheduled to appear in Atlantic County Superior Court Wednesday for arraignment.
Wu Chih-jui was arrested in Toronto and held in lieu of $150,000 bail. The state is working with federal officials to try to extradite him.
Hagerty said the group targeted Atlantic City because of a greater chance of winning and because at the time, New Jersey casinos used clear plexiglass ″shoes″ to hold the cards.
Since the investigation, Hagerty said, the casinos have changed to opaque plastic card shoes.