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A ruse to introduce fake chips into a live poker tournament at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City last year has resulted in an indictment on a number of criminal charges for a North Carolina man.

Christian Lusardi was indicted by an Atlantic County grand jury for criminal mischief, attempted theft by deception, and trademark counterfeiting for the ill-conceived scheme in January 2014 that allegedly consisted of ordering poker chips from China and putting stickers on them to resemble the chips used in the Borgata Winter Poker Open.

The deception was discovered due to a plumbing problem at Harrah’s Casino Hotel nearby when hotel staff found that a leak in a sewer line was caused by more than 500 bogus Borgata chips. Someone – allegedly Lusardi – attempted to flush the chips down the toilet. The phony poker chips were valued at $2.7 million.

Tournament Cancelled

The discovery of the counterfeit chips led to the cancellation of Event #1, a $2 Million Guaranteed Big Stack Re-Entry. Players had been competing for three days and only 27 remained of the 4,812 total entries. The prize pool reached $2.3 million, surpassing the $2 million guarantee.

Over 400 players had already cashed for $892,690 before the event was cancelled. The winner was looking at a $372,123 prize.

About 160 fake chips, each with a face value of $5,000, were allegedly introduced by Lusardi during the event’s first two days.

All players affected by Lusardi’s actions received refunds. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) determined that 2,218 entrants were not impacted, and thus received no compensation. Despite the difference in chip stacks of the remaining 27 players, each was awarded $19,323. The DGE’s determination and resolution of the event can be read here.

Bootlegging Bust

Criminal mischief by Lusardi didn’t end at bogus poker chips. The 43-year-old was sentenced earlier this year to five years in prison for his role in receiving and selling counterfeit DVDs in the U.S. and Canada.

The feds were onto Lusardi and arrested him after he received a shipment of tapes from China. A search found over 35,000 counterfeit DVDs. Lusardi’s PayPal account took in more than $1.3 million over a two-year period between 2010 and 2012.

In addition to a 60-month bid in the penitentiary, Lusardi will serve three years of supervision after his release and was ordered to pay more than $1.1 million in restitution.

Long Time Without Cashing?

Lusardi’s Hendon Mob resume shows two cashes in live events. He finished runner-up in a $340 WSOP Circuit event in December 2008, good for a $29,189 payday.

One month later at the 2009 Borgata Winter Open, Lusardi made it to 28th place for $1,556 after buying in for $810. One can certainly speculate that five years without cashing was perhaps the reason behind Lusardi’s plan to introduce counterfeit chips.

Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.

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