Posted by Miccosukee Resort & Gaming on Thursday, May 12, 2016

Eight plead guilty to stlealing more than $5 million from Miccosukee Tribe

Eight people pleaded guilty in federal court for stealing $5.3 million in cash from the casino owned by the Miccosukee Tribe.

Michel Aleu, Lester Lavin, Yohander Jorrin Melhen, and Leonardo Betancourt were former employes of Miccosukee Resort & Gaming. Along with their respective spouses -- Maria Del Pilar Aleu, Anisleydi Vergel Hermida, and Milagros Marile Acosta Torres -- plus another individual, Yusmary Shirley Duran, the defendants admitted they participated in a scheme in which they stole money by tampering with electronic machines at the facility.

"As stated in court documents, from January 2011 to May 2015, Michel Aleu, Lavin, Jorrin Melhen, Betancourt, and other co-conspirators, who were employed in the video game department at the Miccosukee Casino, tampered with the computers in electronic gaming machines, causing those machines to generate false and fraudulent credit vouchers or tickets, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida said in a news release on Tuesday. "They then enlisted other conspirators to exchange the vouchers for cash at ATMs located on the casino floor, at floor cashiers, or the casino treasury."

Together, the eight defendants had been hit with a total of 63 charges of computer fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and making false statements to law enforcement, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. The criminal enterprise ran from January 2011 through March 2015 according to federal prosecutors.

The defendants await sentencing before Judge Darrin P. Gayles, with each facing a maximum term of 20 years’ imprisonment for money laundering conspiracy. The four former employees also face maximum terms of five years on their convictions for conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to commit computer fraud.

Miccosukee Resort & Gaming is a Class II gaming facility. It offers bingo and electronic versions of bingo.

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