On Tuesday Mohegan Sun Pocono’s former vice president of player development was charged with conspiring with a frequent gambler and a cocktail server to defraud the Pennsylvania casino out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Fifty-year-old Robert Joseph Pellegrini of Fairview Township faces 177 counts including theft, criminal conspiracy, and identity theft, computer trespassing, winning by fraud and misapplying trusted property. His co-conspirators in the long-running scheme are frequent patron Mark Joseph Heltzel, 51, of Dallas, and beverage server Rochelle Poszeluznyj, 37, Kingston, according to local media reports. Between May 2, 2014, and April 4, 2015 $418,793 was generated in winnings by the trio who used $478,100 in free slot play to do so, according to the state police Bureau of Gaming.
The investigation by state police into the theft began in April 2015 after allegations of an ongoing scheme to defraud the casino were made by table dealer Matthew Crane, according to affidavits filed in court Tuesday. Police said that an apparent love triangle between Crane, Hentzel and Poszeluznyj during the scheme was the catalyst that drove Crane to let the cat out of the bag. According to Crane, the scheme was referred to as a “handshake” by Pellegrini and Heltzel, and was initiated before Poszeluznyj joined the duo sometime around December 2013 or January 2014. At that time Poszeluznyj began collecting pin numbers and players card numbers while serving drinks, the charges allege. The numbers were then passed along to Pellegrini, who created duplicate cards with free slot money before handing them off to Hetzel, said police. The cards were then used at the casino’s slot machines by Heltzel, who afterward split the haul with the other two when the three met at the Cracker Jack Bar in Wilkes-Barre or the Woodlands Inn and Resort in Plains Township. Police said at one point a lock box containing about $1,700 was seen by Crane in Poszeluznyj’s apartment.
Police said that to verify Crane’s accusations surveillance footage was viewed by investigators, and while doing so Heltzel was observed suing the player’s cards of five different players at a slot machine, none of which were his property. Heltzel won $1,880 on that occasion using $2,900 in free play money, according to authorities. After seven days surveillance footage is overwritten, so police were only able to review as far back as a week. However, they say during that period Heltzel was seen engaging in similar activity on three occasions.
Upon confrontation by police Poszeluznyj admitted obtaining card information at the behest of Heltzel and Pellegrini, stating that she managed to get upwards of 50 card number for the scheme. The three defendants were not taken into custody on Tuesday, but Heltzel and Pellegrini were arraigned on Wednesday, and Pellegrini turned himself in on Thursday. Mohegan Sun Pocono President Mike Bean told citizenvoice that Poszeluznyj and Pellegrini are no longer employed by the casino.