4 Men busted in Roulette Chip-switching Scheme

Four men tried to make some easy money in the Big Easy by cheating Harrah’s New Orleans through roulette. However, the four New Yorkers were found out and arrested by Louisiana State Troopers after bilking Harrah’s out of $3,500.

Joe Diaz, Emillano Jaquez, Ramon Mojica Jr. and Cristian Perello are charged with cheating and swindling, and conspiracy to commit cheating and swindling.

The swindlers worked their scam by taking colored chips off tables when dealers were distracted. They then exchanged chips in a bathroom and re-introduced the same colored chips at different roulette tables where the chips were worth more money. Here’s an in-depth look at how Nola.com describes the semi-elaborate scheme:

Investigators said Jaquez, 27, would sit at a table and buy stacks of colored roulette chips valued at $1 each. Soon, Diaz, 36, and Perello, 29, would buy in at the same table, chatting up the dealer and keeping the table busy with a flurry of small bets and chit-chat designed to hold the dealer’s attention. While the dealer was distracted, police said, Jaquez would surreptitiously remove some of his colored chips from the table, in violation of casino rules. Eventually, police said, Jaquez would phone Mojica and excuse himself to the men’s room with one to three stacks of chips bought for $20 each hidden in his pockets.

Police said Jaquez passed the pilfered roulette chips to Mojica in the restroom, then returned to his table to cash out his remaining stack for casino chips which he then exchanged for money at the cashier’s cage. Diaz and Perello, police said, remained at the table, continuing to play and occupy the dealer’s attention. Before another player could step in, police said Mojica arrived at the table, and established himself as a high-roller who wanted to play with his chips bought and valued at $25 each. For his playing color, Mojica selected the same color of chips that Jaquez recently surrendered to the dealer.

The plot came together when Mojica would gradually introduce the $1 chips from Jaquez into his stack of $25 chips at the table. This scam was successful on the first night, but the four perpetrators returned to play roulette a second day, only to find state troopers waiting for them in Harrah’s New Orleans. Casino security and troopers reviewed surveillance video from the previous night, then waited for the men to put their scam into play once again.

Jaquez took the chips off his table again and handed them off in the bathroom, just before all four were arrested. Mojica’s bond is set at $25,000, while the other three men have their bond set at $15,000 each. Their trials are all set to take place on April 20th.