Minnesota Woman Charged with $315K Embezzlement from Tribal Casino

Posted on: December 15, 2020, 10:09h. 

Last updated on: December 15, 2020, 10:56h.

A 32-year-old Minnesota woman has been charged in the US District Court of Minnesota with embezzling money from the Fortune Bay Resort Casino.

Minnesota crime Fortune Bay Resort Casino
Minnesota’s Fortune Bay Resort Casino, seen here. Federal officials say the casino was the victim of a $315,000 embezzlement. (Image: Duluth News-Tribune)

United States Attorney Erica MacDonald for the District of Minnesota alleges that Jennifer Lynn Boutto, 32, stole more than $315,000 from the northern Minnesota tribal casino during a six-year period. Federal authorities believe the theft occurred from June 2013 through October 2019.

The casino is owned and operated by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa tribe.

Boutto was an employee of the Fortune Bay Resort Casino. The charging documents assert Boutto embezzled and stole $315,739.87 in money, funds, and credits from the casino. 

Boutto is charged with one felony count of embezzlement and theft from an Indian tribal organization. Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute states that a person found guilty of embezzling money from a tribal group “shall be fined or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

Details Scant

The federal charge against Boutto comes with few specifics. The charging document, filed Dec. 14, does not explain how Boutto managed to allegedly swindle the money out from the tribal casino, nor in what capacity she was employed.

As of Dec. 15, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota had not issued a press release on the matter.

Fortune Bay Resort Casino is located in Tower, less than 25 miles from the Canadian border. The remote resort has a 173-room hotel, RV park, five restaurants, golf course, indoor pool, snowmobiling and cross-country trails, and casino floor with 800 slot machines, 12 blackjack tables, and four poker tables. The casino additionally features a bingo hall.

The casino remains open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Guests and employees are required to undergo temperature screenings prior to entry, face coverings are required, and smoking indoors has been temporarily suspended.

The casino is open 9 am to 1 am Sunday through Thursday, and 9 am to 3 am on Friday and Saturday. The gaming space, the casino says, undergoes a deep clean during daily closures.

Public Defender Assigned

An online search found a 32-year-old Jennifer L. Boutto residing in Gheen, population 17 as of the 2018 census count. The address is 33 miles from the Fortune Bay Resort Casino.

The Star Tribune, Minnesota’s largest newspaper, says attempts to reach Boutto and her attorney were unsuccessful. Court records show that Boutto has been assigned a public defender — attorney Lisa Lopez, who is based in Minneapolis.

Embezzlement from tribal casinos isn’t rare.

Last month, a couple was charged on allegations that they stole $2.9 million from the Gold Country Casino Resort in California. Authorities say the couple oversaw the casino’s finances and used the gaming property as their own bank.

In October, a New Jersey man was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for stealing nearly $150,000 from a tribal casino in North Dakota. The guilty individual received $149,600 for lawn and maintenance equipment from the Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise but never delivered any machinery.