The federal government is investigating how more than $100,000 was stolen from the Yakama Nation’s Legends Casino in what looks to be a fraud case.
Earlier this week, 42 people were arrested and indicted in a Washington State federal court. Court documents filed in the Yakima District Court show that the defendants collected rigged winnings ranging from $250 to $2,500.
Those documents also list a Legends Casino employee as a conspirator. Juan Reyes Correa, a marketing employee, is facing charges that he stole casino funds and allegedly conspired with other defendants. Federal prosecutors brought charges against him for theft from a gaming establishment and theft by an employee.
According to Yakima’s NBC local affiliate KNDO, the scam targeted a game in which cards with names of casino customers were pulled at random. When the winning cardholders name was announced, they had three minutes to report to the game area. At the game area, they would choose a number on a large game board, which would reveal a cash prize of at least $250, the maximum amount being $2500.
Correa would pre-select winners and tell them what time their name would be called. He would also tell them where on the game board the high-value prizes were located. Correa allegedly split the money with the winners. The indictment lists 47 occasions when investigators think the drawing was rigged.
“We’re demonstrating to the general public that we take this very seriously and that we’re going to deal with this kind of scam upfront,” Harry Smiskin, the Yakama Nation Tribal Council Chairman, said to NBCNews.com. Smiskin told the Associated Press that the tribe asked the federal government to get involved and they also aided in the investigation.
So far, 36 of the 42 defendants have pleaded not guilty on all counts, but as of Tuesday, the YakimaHerald.com reported that the remaining six defendants had yet to enter pleas.
The Legends Casino in Toppenish is located on the Yakama Indian Reservation about 25 miles southeast of Yakima, Washington.