Employee sentenced for fraud and money laundering at his own casino

  • Robert Joseph Pellegrini has been sentenced to almost 3 years in prison for a reduced charge of money laundering
  • Targeting his own casino, Pellegrini conspired with two others to scam the house out of $422k

It has been reported that Mohegan Sun Pocono, a casino in Wilkes-Barre, PA, has been the subject of a rather bizarre crime.

mohegan sun crime scene

Robert Joseph Pellegrini – who was, until recently, the Mohegan Sun Pocono’s vice president of player development – was arrested in January 2016 for his part in an intricate slots game scam that targeted his own casino.

Now, according to latest reports, he has been charged for his crimes and sentenced to 32 months behind bars and ordered to make restitution to his casino for the funds stolen by he and his criminal accomplices between May 2014 and April 2015.

Produced fake reward cards

In a scam that cost Mohegan Sun Pocono more than $422,000, 51-year-old Pellegrini exploited the IDs of the casino’s real customers to produce fake reward cards, which are believed to have totaled around $478,000 altogether.

It was alleged that Mark Heltzel, a regular customer at the casino, used these fake cards under Pellegrini’s instruction to gamble with the house’s funds. The winnings he took away were then reportedly split between Pellegrini himself and another Pocono employee called Rochelle Poszeluznyj.

He and his co-conspirators were charged with fraud, theft, identity theft, computer trespassing, and conspiracy. In the end, both Pellegrini and Heltzel pleaded guilty to one charge of money laundering.

This comes after a senior district judge at the Max Rosenn Federal Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre imposed the money laundering sentence on Friday.

Reduced sentence pleas

The judge’s decision to reduce the initially long list of charges to just money laundering was the result of hearing the pleas of Pellegrini’s family. The traditional sentencing guidelines for a crime such as Pellegrini’s dictate that he should receive between 46 and 57 months behind bars.

But his family’s pleas to consider his young children, alongside his attorney William Ruzzo’s statement that Pellegrini felt “deeply remorseful,” were enough to tip the balance in Pellegrini’s favor.

“He is a good man who does not need a long term in prison. He did something terrible… but he stepped up and took responsibility. Bob has been a good citizen except for this.”
William Ruzzo, Pellegrini’s attorney

Nonetheless, the judge said, “It’s a business that did not deserve to have its money stolen.”

Addicted gambler

Ruzzo further claimed that Pellegrini is “an addicted gambler” and that for him, working in a casino setting was much the same as an alcoholic working in a bar, stating that it “support[ed] his addiction.”

Pellegrini announced to the judge that before his sentence, he had been attending meetings with Gamblers Anonymous on a weekly basis. “Your honor, I am a flawed man,” he said. “I am not perfect. […] My actions will never happen again.”

But Pellegrini’s assistant attorney, Michelle Olshefski, commented that his actions were the result of his own “pure greed.” She went on to say, “It’s tragic what the defendant has done to his family. But he made a choice.”

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