Casino Crime Round Up: Gambling Equipment, $23K Seized in Michigan Raid

Posted on: February 22, 2023, 02:19h. 

Last updated on: February 23, 2023, 11:07h.

Michigan officials confiscated 36 gaming machines and more than $23K after an illegal gambling raid last Thursday at Cozy Barcade in Delta Township.

Tropicana casino in Atlantic City
Tropicana casino in Atlantic City, pictured above. A truck was driven from a dealership in New Jersey to the casino by a suspect. Police twice tried to stop the driver after the dealership realized it was missing. (Image: Go AC)

Items found include computers for gambling, slot-style gaming machines, table-mounted gaming machines, and a coin pusher, according to the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB).

Authorities launched an investigation after anonymous tips were given to the MGCB. Residents suspected illegal gambling was taking place at the establishment. Officials didn’t say if any suspects were arrested.

Such operations lead to other crimes such as robberies, assaults, and illegal drugs, authorities said.

Missing Truck Winds Up at NJ’s Tropicana Casino

An unnamed man told a salesperson at a Stafford, NJ dealership he was taking a new truck for a test drive on Saturday morning. Many hours later, the vehicle was found at Atlantic City’s Tropicana casino.

The 2023 GMC Sierra was in the casino’s parking garage, some 40 miles away from the dealership. The man was located nearby, inside the gaming venue.

The man apparently led a salesperson to believe he was interested in buying the truck. He claimed he just wanted to see how it drove. The suspect left the dealership at about 11 a.m. After it became apparent the motorist and truck were missing, the dealership notified police.

The driver was charged with third-degree unlawful taking of a means of conveyance, and second-degree eluding, the Miami Herald reported. The later charge came after he allegedly failed to stop for a Tuckerton Borough, NJ police officer who tried to pull him over.

An officer from another department also tried to stop the motorist that day. He, too, was unsuccessful.

Canadian Casino Holdups Lead to Suspect

Richard James Buckmire, 62, of Calgary, Canada, was arrested recently for allegedly robbing at least one casino.

Buckmire entered Calgary’s ACE Casino Airport last Wednesday where he claimed to have a weapon and demanded money, police said. An employee handed over an undisclosed amount of cash before Buckmire fled, CTV News, a Canadian news operation, reported.

A helicopter crew tracked him to a Deerfoot City parking lot before he drove away in his car. Officers tailed Buckmire to Huntington Hills, where police eventually stopped his car.

Buckmire was charged with five counts of robbery with a restricted or prohibited weapon, as well as three counts of wearing a disguise with intent, CTV reported.

Buckmire is also suspected in the September 2022 robbery of local venue Cash Casino, and the January robbery of the local Deerfoot Inn and Casino, according to the Calgary Police Service.

Improper Claiming of Jackpots in Iowa

Several suspects were arrested after they allegedly took part in schemes to have someone besides the real winner collect a slot jackpot at Iowa casinos.

Shelly Esquer, 59, of Fort Dodge, Iowa won $3,898 from a slot machine on Dec. 30, 2022, at the Wild Rose Casino in Jefferson, according to Raccoon Valley Radio, a regional news organization. She asked John Cook, 51, also of Fort Dodge, to collect the money, police said. Cook also allegedly filled out an IRS W-9 form.

Esquer and Cook left the casino without the winnings. On January 3, she again entered the casino and tried to collect the money, police said.

Esquer owed the state of Iowa $6,961. The winnings were used to pay part of her bill.

Earlier this month, Esquer was charged with two counts of gambling-avoid setoff and second-degree fraudulent practice. Cook was charged with the same counts, according to Raccoon Valley Radio.

Nathan Martin, 47, of Carroll, Iowa was arrested for two similar incidents at a casino in Jefferson earlier this month after he won two jackpots on slot machines.

On February 2, he hit for $2,007. Five days later, he won $2,160. Another person sat in Martin’s place at the slot machines to collect the money for both wins, and both allegedly filled out W-9 forms.

Martin owed the state of Iowa $89K and the jackpots were applied to his debt.

Martin was charged with two gambling-avoid setoff counts, as well as second-degree fraudulent practice.

McKensie Bess, 40, also of Carroll, who allegedly took part in the February 7 scheme, was charged with gambling-avoid setoff and second-degree fraudulent practice, too.

Every suspect in the string of improper claiming of jackpots was booked at the Greene County Jail. Their cases were turned over to local courts for prosecution.