Ex-Vegas Dealer gets 4 Years in Prison for Cheating

Ex-Vegas Dealer gets 4 Years in Prison for Cheating

A former Bellagio craps dealer and his two accomplices were each sentenced to four years in prison stemming from a 2014 craps cheating case.

The dealer, Mark William Branco, and his accomplices, Jeffrey D. Martin and Anthony Grant Granito, gained massive notoriety after they bilked the Bellagio out of over $1 million.

The three men pleaded and sobbed as they asked a Clark County District Court judge to only give them probation.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to make it right,” a tearful Branco said.

“I’ve disgraced my family. I’ve disgraced myself,” said Granito, who suffered a heart attack not long after he was charged with cheating.

“Family should always be the priority. I let money be the priority,” said Martin.

These emotional pleas didn’t work on Judge Valerie Adair, though, who said that the men probably knew they were facing serious prison time if they got caught.

Branco received four to 10 years in prison. Martin and Granito both received four to eight years and four months behind bars. The trio must also come up with $1.05 million in restitution.

All three men pleaded guilty to theft and cheating at gambling to avoid a trial. Most of the other charges in the 60-charge indictment were dismissed.

Branco and fellow Bellagio dealer James Russell Cooper Jr. were arrested in 2014 and fired when their craps cheating scheme was uncovered.

According to the Star Advertiser, Cooper pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and testified against the other three conspirators. Cooper is expected to receive a much-lighter sentence of one to five years in prison.

The scheme began with Cooper and Branco, who took bets from Martin and Granito. The latter two would say inaudible or confusing bets before the dice rolled, and Cooper/Branco paid them out regardless of the outcome.

“When the circumstances were just right, they would make high-stakes hop bets,” said prosecutor Jay P. Raman. “No money. No chips.”

Martin and Granito would regularly win thousands of dollars in a given night and later split the winnings with Branco and Cooper.

“They stole a ton of money,” Raman said, “the kind of money that the word ‘jackpot’ usually follows.”

The men used their winnings to purchase new cars and other extravagant items. Martin, however, did end up giving some of his stolen funds back through Bellagio slot machines.

Sharon Tibbits, a fraud-control executive at Bellagio’s parent company MGM Resorts International, asked the judge not to give these men any leniency during sentencing.

“It was not need. It was 100 percent greed,” said Tibbits. “Please don’t let crime pay.”

Based on the lengthy sentences, it appears that the judge listened.

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