MILLION DOLLAR BELLAGIO CRAPS SCHEME EXPOSED

MILLION DOLLAR BELLAGIO CRAPS SCHEME EXPOSED

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For nearly two years, a pair of Bellagio craps dealers and two friends stole more than $1 million of the tables, prosecutors said Wednesday.The dealers, Mark M. Branco, 42, and James R. Cooper Jr., 43, along with Jeffrey D. Martin, 38, and Anthony G. Granito, 49, were indicted on dozens of counts of cheating at gambling and theft, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney J. P. Raman.Cooper, who cooperated with authorities and testified before a grand jury, was given $1,000 bail, while District Judge Jennifer Togliatti ordered a no-bail warrant for the others pending arraignment hearing next week.


Between July 2012 and July 2014, when the timing was right, Branco and Cooper conspired with Granito and Martin to pay off bets that never transpired, the prosecutor said.Because the craps table is often crowded with base dealers, a boxman, a stickman, a floor person and other players, there had to be a "very select set of circumstances that had to line up for them to pull off," Raman said.They would focus on lower limits at tables with dealers who weren't paying enough attention to the action.Granito and Martin would make some real bets, but mutter some sort of craps wager as the dice were tossed and Cooper or Branco would pay them "as if they had bet on it," Raman said.But last year, a fellow dealer noticed suspicious behavior and informed Bellagio management and an investigation began.


Cooper told authorities the group had been running the scam for about two years, and Bellagio started tracking the records of the players.Throughout their play, Granito collected nearly $700,000 while Martin collected more than $800,000, according to Raman.The prosecutor said authorities have "mathematical, statistical analysis of the improbability of them being able to achieve the results they did."


By David Ferrara - Las Vegas Review-Journal


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