HAMMOND | Federal prosecutors claim a former card dealer at Resorts East Chicago casino was an inside man who helped card cheats win at least $646,050 in the local component of a busted multistate conspiracy to steal millions from casinos.
Mike Waseleski, 45, of Hammond, is charged with dealing planned sequences of cards to at least five accused co-conspirators between May and August 2005 at the casino, now Ameristar. Prosecutors claim one "false shuffle" by Waseleski at a mini baccarat table cost the casino $376,000.
Waseleski remains free following a hearing in Hammond federal court Thursday. Waseleski, along with six other alleged conspirators, is charged in an indictment unsealed last week in San Diego federal court. Waseleski must appear Oct. 8 in California. He is free on a $20,000 bond he won't have to pay unless he misses a court date.
Waseleski's appointed lawyer in Indiana, Kerry Connor, declined to comment Thursday.
Waseleski's indictment is the most recent in a series of court actions against the "Tran Organization," a San Diego-based ring busted by federal authorities in 2007. Dozens of others have pleaded guilty in schemes to cheat casinos nationwide.
Federal authorities say Waseleski's involvement in the scheme started when the organization flew him to Houston for training on crooked dealing.
Prosecutors say the scheme worked like this: The card cheats would recruit and bribe a dealer. That dealer would be trained to shuffle cards into a "slug," or a series of cards recognizable to a crooked player familiar with the scam. The dealer would do this by putting the cards back into the "shoe" -- the card dispenser -- in the same order in which they were dealt in a previous game. Then the scheming player could place a big bet when he or she foresaw a winning hand.
The accused cheaters allegedly used hidden microphones, card-tracking software and pens and pads to predict and exploit expected card series.
Prosecutors claim conspirators, working with Waseleski, raked in $269,850 on three days in May, June and July of 2005. Three crooked players scored another $376,000 haul on Aug. 7, 2005, according to prosecutors.
How it worked: Prosecutors say dealers were trained to shuffle cards into a "slug," or series of cards recognizable to a crooked player at the table. The dealer then would place the cards back into the table dispenser in the same order. When that series began to unfold again, the crooked player would know to bet big.