You may remember the story from a couple of years back, of Christian Lusardi, the man behind the hilariously-botched Borgata chip counterfeiting scheme. He was arrested towards the end of January 2014, and pled guilty to counterfeiting and criminal mischief this past August.
Yesterday, he was finally sentenced to five years in prison. He’s also required to pay $463,540 in restitution to the Borgata, although it’s hard to imagine where the court imagines that he’ll come up with it; it seems unlikely he’d attempt a scam like this one if he had been in healthy financial shape to begin with. Courts are supposed to consider the defendant’s current and future ability to pay in awarding restitution, however, so either he’s better off than you would have thought, or else they’re hoping that his next scam after release will go better than this one did.
A comically-bad crime
Lusardi had entered the Event #1 of the 2014 Borgata Winter Poker Open and brought with him a large number of fake, high-denomination chips, purchased from a Chinese manufacturer and affixed with stickers to make them look similar to the Borgata’s.
He snuck some of these chips onto the table throughout the tournament, but proved to be sufficiently bad at poker that, even with an 800,000 chip advantage, he failed to make the third day of the tournament. It was at that point that people began to notice that some of the chips didn’t look right, and the tournament was frozen.
Lusardi panicked and, as bad at criminality as at poker, decided that his best bet was to attempt to flush his remaining stash of fake chips down the toilet in his hotel room. These clogged the pipes, of course, so plumbers were brought in, and the chips were promptly discovered and traced back to his room and thus to him. He was found and arrested by police a week later.
A criminally-bad comic
The real villain in all this has gotten away scot-free, however. Making a statement to the press about Lusardi’s plea, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes was quoted as saying,
“When you gamble on a flush in high-stakes poker, you either win big or lose big.”
For some reason, making a joke this bad is not considered a crime, but even if it were, Fuentes’s high position in the police department would likely help him dodge consequences. This is terrifying, because clearly this is a man who would sit at your poker table and say things like “nice pair” to the large-breasted woman at showdown, or “I only play offsuit cards, so that way I’ve got two flush draws.” For all we know, he could be in possession of a murderously-unfunny arsenal of Rounders quotes.
Since there’s nothing we can do about this menace on the legal front, I’d like to call on all Atlantic City card rooms and casinos to do the right thing. Ban this man from your premises before someone gets hurt.
Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.