Christian Lusardi put together an ingenious plan that involved counterfeiting poker chips. The 43 year old Lusardi decided to buy counterfeit chips from a Chinese manufacturer and then carefully counterfeited Borgata logo stickers to make it appear that he had a full stack of chips. He used some of these chips at the 2014 Borgata Poker Tournament and his ingenious scam wasn’t detected by Borgata authorities.
Lusardi panicked for some reason during his stay at the Harrah’s Casino Hotel and decided to rid himself of the remaining counterfeit chips he had. He flushed over 500 chips down his hotel room toilet and thought that was the last he would see of them. Yet his royal flush didn’t go down well and Harrah’s had to call in plumbing services to find out what was wrong with their clogged draining system. An investigation was launched once workers found hundreds of counterfeit chips estimated to be around $2.7 million stuck in the drainage system.
The investigation led the authorities to Christian Lusardi who finally admitted to counterfeiting chips and using them at New Jersey casinos. The Borgata management was shocked at the scam and were forced to inform all players at the 2014 Borgata Poker Tournament that the event had been compromised by Lusardi. The event was cancelled much to the disappointment of the players and the Borgata ended up on the receiving end of a lawsuit filed by players who felt cheated.
In a statement, Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said “Lusardi’s alleged scheme to play high-stakes poker with counterfeit chips played out like a Hollywood movie plot. As theatrical as this was, we cannot lose sight of the serious nature of this financial crime. By allegedly betting with phony chips, Lusardi cheated other players and cost the Borgata hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tournament revenues.”
An Atlantic County court indicted Lusardi on the charges of theft by deception and counterfeiting for the chips and criminal mischief for causing over $10,000 in damage by flushing the chips at Harrah’s.
In another counterfeiting matter, authorities also went to Lusardi’s North Carolina home and found that he had accumulated over 35,000 pirated DVD’s during a two year period between 2010 and 2012. Lusardi was in contact with a Chinese manufacturer who supplied him with thousands of pirated DVD’s that he would sell in the U.S.
Lusardi was ordered by the court to pay back $1.1 million as restitution in the DVD case and was sent to federal prison for a period of five years after admitting in federal court to trafficking in counterfeit labels and copyright infringement.