Forty-two people have been indicted on federal charges for allegedly conspiring with a Yakama Nation casino employee to rig prize drawings earlier this year.
According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Yakima, Juan Reyes Correa, a marketing employee at Legends Casino in Toppenish, is accused of pre-selecting winners of a weekly promotional drawing in exchange for a partial kickback of the prize money.
The charges were filed July 18 but were sealed until arraignments began last Thursday. Charges include conspiracy to steal casino funds, theft from a gaming establishment, and in Correa’s case, theft by an employee. Thirty-six of the defendants have pleaded not guilty on all counts; six defendants have yet to formally appear before the court and enter a plea.
Yakama Nation Chairman Harry Smiskin said Monday that the tribe asked the federal government to investigate the case and aided the investigation. He said the arrests were carried out Thursday and Friday.
The scam targeted a drawing designed to pull, at random, cards entered by casino customers. When the winning name was announced, the winner had three minutes to report to the game area, where they would choose a number on a large game board, revealing a cash prize ranging from $250 to $2,500.
The indictment alleges Correa would tell the pre-selected winners what time their name would be called and often where on the game board the high-value prizes were located.
The indictment lists 47 separate occasions on which investigators think the drawing was rigged from Feb. 6 to May 15. Correa is charged for all 47 counts, while his co-defendants are mostly charged for one or two counts of the scam that they allegedly participated in.
No other Legends employees are named in the case, but the indictment alleges that Correa did share some of the money with some of his co-workers in the marketing department.
• Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.