ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CN) - Russians used elderly Russian women to launder money at a roped-off section of $500 slot machines at the Borgata Hotel Casino, and when a longtime employee reported it to her bosses, she was fired on a pretext, she claims in Atlantic County Court.
Brenda Trinidad, a casino host, says she was fired on the pretext that she had accepted a gift from a guest. She says the real reason is that she objected to the "obvious attempts to launder money."
"Management and several employees were aware that certain customers were laundering under $10,000 at a time, in the Borgata's high-limit slot machines, so that it does not trigger a report of any financial transaction," according to the complaint.
Trinidad, who worked for 20 years for the Marina District Development Co. aka Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, says she reported the money laundering to upper management, including then-Borgata president Larry Mullin.
"There was an obvious pattern involving Russian-speaking older women who would play within an area which was roped off specifically so that these players can play the high-limit slots by themselves for short periods of time and then cash in any vouchers, receipts, tax documents, and leave the casino," according to the complaint.
Russian men escorted the elderly women to the machines, where they played for hours at a time, Trinidad says. After going from one machine to the next, depositing $500 tokens, they would turn the winnings over to the men. Using tax forms provided by the Borgata, the men could claim the money as legitimate winnings, according to the complaint.
Trinidad says her other customers complained because the machines for "high rollers" were constantly roped off, month after month, with enormous sums of money at play.
"Many of these illegal acts directly involved her customers and clients who were inconvenienced and angry about areas of the high-limit slot department that was roped off and utilized by Russians who were playing $500 slot machines in an obvious attempt to launder money," the complaint states.
After she complained to her bosses and to Mullin, Trinidad says, Borgata transferred her away from the high-limit machines and barred her from working with high rollers.
"Plaintiff believes that she was singled out because she raised the issues of Russian players receiving preferential treatment and the discussions she had with her supervisors and upper management concerning suspicious currency transactions," the complaint states.
She says she saw Borgata employees commit other crimes, including scalping tickets for the Borgata's own shows, to increase its profits, and doctoring employee time cards.
Trinidad seeks punitive damages and lost pay, benefits and pension, alleging wrongful termination and retaliation. She is represented by Richard Press of Pleasantville, N.J.
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.