BEYOND BERGEN: A North Carolina man was caught bringing millions of dollars in counterfeit chips to Atlantic City to use in a high-stakes poker tournament at The Borgata Casino when he clogged a pipe flushing hundreds of them down a toilet at Harrah’s, a grand jury indictment alleges.
The alleged scheme by Christian Lusardi, 43, of Fayetteville, N.C. “played out like a Hollywood movie plot, in which the leak that exposed him came not from a human source but from a sewer pipe,” acting state Attorney General John J. Hoffman.
However, “as theatrical as this was, we cannot lose sight of the serious nature of this financial crime,” Hoffman said. “Lusardi cheated other players and cost the Borgata hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tournament revenues.”
State authorities halted Borgata’s scheduled three-week “Winter Poker Open” after three days in January 2014 when guests at Harrah’s Casino Hotel reported a leak in the sewer line in two adjoining hotel rooms and the bogus chips were discovered.
Pulled from the plumbing were 494 gray $5,000 chips and nine mustard $25,000 chips — with a combined face value of $2,695,000.
“Stickers with a counterfeit Borgata trademark were affixed to the chips to make them appear authentic,” Hoffman said.
An audit by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) turned up 160 counterfeit $5,000 chips used in the tournament.
Authorities also found 22 more fake $5,000 chips clogging a toilet in a Borgata men’s room.
Altogether, the face value of the fake chips recovered was $3.6 million.
State Police arrested Lusardi on Jan. 24, 2014.
The state indictment returned yesterday in Atlantic County says that Lusardi ordered the chips over the Internet from a manufacturer in China and affixed the counterfeit logo stickers.
He’s also charged with criminal mischief for causing nearly $10,000 in damage to the plumbing at Harrah’s.
The case was presented to the grand jury by Deputy Attorney General Kerry DiJoseph of the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau-Casino Prosecution Unit. It was investigated by Detective Sgt. Arthur Ferrari and Detective Sgt. 1st Class Eric Hubbs of the State Police Casino Investigations Unit.
PHOTO: Courtesy POKER NEWS
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.