Man Admits Flushing Fake Poker Chips Down Atlantic City Casino Toilet
A North Carolina man will be sentenced to five years in prison for using counterfeit chips in an Atlantic City poker tournament. Christian Lusardi, who had already been sentenced earlier this year to five years for pirating DVDs, pleaded guilty and accepted the sentence as part of a deal.
Lusardi admitted to cheating in the 2014 Borgata Winter Open Big Stack no-limit hold ’em event. He won $6,814 in the tournament, but suspected he’d been caught with the counterfeit chips. So he did the only logical thing: He flushed the counterfeit chips down the toilet at his room at nearby Harrah’s.
They clogged the pipes. Maintenance was called and found more than 500 chips — worth $2.7 million in all — causing a leak. Another 11 chips were found in a toilet at the Borgata. The poker event was canceled with 27 players remaining; a class-action lawsuit was thrown out.
The prize money, $1.5 million, was originally held up until New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement ordered refunds made to 2,143 players who may have made contact with Lusardi’s fake chips and $19,323 each distributed to the remaining 27 players.
Although not found to be at fault by state regulators, the Borgata has since started using higher-tech measures to prevent cheating at their tournaments. Lusardi used about 600 $5,000 chips during play. Lusardi has been ordered to pay $463,540 to Borgata (for lost revenue from the tournament) and $9,455 to Harrah’s (for damaging their pipes).
Prosecutors say Lusardi ordered the chips from China and put fake Borgata stickers on them. In all, $3.6 million in fake chips were recovered. Lusardi is expected to be sentenced to five years for trademark counterfeiting and three years for criminal mischief, though the sentences will run concurrently.
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