PLAINS TWP. — Already serving a federal prison sentence for money laundering, the former vice president of player development at Mohegan Sun Pocono was hit Tuesday with new criminal charges alleging he conspired in a rigged Easter egg drawing in exchange for a cut of the winnings.
Robert Joseph Pellegrini, 52, was charged with felony counts of theft and receiving stolen property, as well as a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to participate in a rigged contest. State police Bureau of Gaming Enforcement also charged former casino employees Colin Ray Boecker, 32, of Tonawanda, New York, and Kenneth Rowlands, 32, of Kingston, with the same offenses.
The 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 a previous fraud case that cost the casino more than $420,000 — took the $10,000 grand prize.
According to the complaint, the promotion included customers who were randomly selected by computer when they swiped their player’s cards at kiosks around the casino. The selected customers then picked plastic eggs containing prizes from a basket, police say.
Several weeks before the contest, Rowlands, who was a casino host, approached Boecker and put in the fix to ensure Heltzel won, the charges say. Boecker agreed to participate for a cut of the winnings and 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 approached Pellegrini to tell him 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.
No date had been immediately set for the arraignments on the charges filed Tuesday.
Pellegrini, of Fariview Twp., is already serving 32 months at Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution after pleading guilty to federal money-laundering conspiracy charges.
According to federal prosecutors, Pellegrini led a conspiracy in that case that cost the casino more than $420,000. Using player’s card information collected by former cocktail waitress Rochelle Poszeluznyj, 40, of Kingston, Pellegrini used his executive access to make copies of the cards and put free play on them.
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 also pleaded guilty to money-laundering conspiracy charges and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He is serving his sentence at U.S. Penitentiary Lewisburg.
Poszeluznyj, who prosecutors said only got about $2,000 from the conspiracy, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years of probation, the first six months on house arrest.
That case contributed to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s decision in December to fine the casino $1 million, citing failures in issuing free slot play, the casino’s main bank cashier functions and internal audits.
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