Charges Filed in Atlantic City Poker Scandal

     TRENTON, N.J. (CN) – In this case, a flush did not win. The man New Jersey’s acting attorney general indicted Wednesday for allegedly sneaking millions of dollars worth of counterfeit poker chips into an Atlantic City poker tournament was caught only because he tried to dispose of the excess chips down the toilet.
     Prosecutors say Christian Lusardi attempted to scam the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa by rigging a three-week poker tournament with fake chips.
     The 2014 Borgata Winter Poker Open, referred to as the “Big Stack, No Limit Hold ‘Em,” kicked off at the Borgata on Jan. 12, 2014, but the discovery of counterfeit poker chips led organizers to suspend the tournament after just three days.
     Lusardi, of Fayetteville, N.C., was arrested after investigators linked him to $2.7 million worth of counterfeit poker chips flushed down the toilet in his room across the street, at the Harrah’s Casino Hotel.
     When the flushed chips reportedly clogged the sewers, tournament officials subsequently found 160 counterfeit poker chips – each with a value of $5,000, for a total of $800,000 – among the genuine casino chips.
     The tournament was canceled with 27 of the original 4,800 entrants still competing, CNN reported.
     State prosecutors say Lusardi flushed nearly 500 gray chips worth $5,000 each and nine mustard-colored chips worth $25,000 each down the toilet at Harrah’s.
     Apparently Lusardi wasn’t satisfied his own toilet could handle the entire load of chips, however, as $110,000 worth of chips were found in a clogged men’s room toilet at the Borgata the next day, according to the indictment.
     Prosecutors allege Lusardi ordered the poker chips from China and then placed stickers with the Borgata trademark on them.
     Attorney General John Hoffman said the scheme “played out like a Hollywood movie plot,” one that cost the hotel and casino hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tournament revenue.
     Clogged pipes also resulted in nearly $10,000 in plumbing damage to Harrah’s, the prosecutor said.
     To reduce the harm to other tournament players, New Jersey’s head of gaming enforcement ordered the fair distribution of the remaining prize funds and a refund of the $560 entry fee to all the legitimate players.
     The Borgata was nevertheless hit with lawsuits by players who claim that they were cheated out of potential winnings.
     A few months after the tournament was canceled, the Borgata introduced higher-tech authentication systems for its poker chips involving ultraviolet light and random chip counts during tournaments and cash games.
     The new indictment against Lusardi, who earlier this year was sentenced to five years for bootlegging DVDs from China, was filed in Atlantic County Superior Court.

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