As part of a civil forfeiture court case unfolding in United States District Court for The Eastern District Of Michigan, the federal government is alleging that a suburban Detroit man scammed investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to help bankroll a gambling spree in Las Vegas.
According to a report from the Detroit Free Press newspaper, Brian Benderoff and two associates were questioned at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in late-June after returning from Nevada’s McCarran International Airport with more than $2.5 million in their luggage.
The newspaper reported that 50-year-old Benderoff told Transportation Security Administration agents at the time that he was a professional gambler who had been in Las Vegas for several weeks and that the funds were the “cashed out” proceeds of the trip. But, the associates soon allegedly admitted that the cash had been obtained from unwitting investors via bogus business deals before being used for gambling.
The Detroit Free Press reported that Benderoff had $886,372 in cash in his luggage along with a $150,000 Chase Bank cashier’s check and a check for $850,000 drawn from his account at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. The Michigan stash moreover reportedly included $699,000 in cash secreted in one of the unnamed associate’s bags as well as a silver Rolex watch.
Court documents from the December 23 federal proceeding reportedly allege that Benderoff, who is not facing criminal charges but is being represented by top attorneys Gerald Gleeson and Thomas Cranmer, had received around $125,000 from one investor to help pay off liens on business equipment while a second gave approximately the same amount for an investment in a medical marijuana business. There was also a third party who purportedly had been convinced to hand over $200,000 for a life insurance-related investment.
However, instead of making the promised investments, federal officials allege that Southfield-based Benderoff wired the cash into a joint bank and then spent it at various Las Vegas casinos.
“Interviews with multiple investors who provided funds to Benderoff and Individual Two revealed that the vast majority of those investors had not been told their funds would be used for gambling purposes, when, in fact, they were used for such purposes,” read a court filing from Assistant United States Attorney Philip Ross.
The Detroit Free Press reported that Benderoff, who filed for bankruptcy in 2001, is no stranger to the court room after being named as a defendant in several Oakland County lawsuits along with a 2008 federal action that alleged he had scammed a travel agent out of more than $600,000 in loans.
“We’re looking forward to sorting it out in the next couple of months,” Gleeson told the Detroit Free Press.