Clogged pipe brings arrest in Atlantic City fake-chips case


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Talk about a royal flush!
clogged pipe at an Atlantic City casino hotel room led to the discovery
of counterfeit poker chips with a tournament value of 2.7 million that
had been flushed down a toilet.
That, in turn, led authorities to a
man they say sneaked fake chips into a poker tournament at the Borgata
Hotel Casino & Spa, prompting the cancellation of one of its events
last week.
Christian Lusardi, of Fayetteville, N.C., was arrested
Friday at a motel in Atlantic City on charges including theft and
rigging a public contest. It was unknown if he had a lawyer. A phone
registered to his name in Fayetteville was answered by a recording
indicating it was no longer in service.
Borgata senior vice
president Joe Lupo said the first indication that anything was amiss
came when his casino received a call from Harrah’s, nearby it in the
city’s marina district, about a mile away from Atlantic City’s
Borgata staff then checked the chips being used in the
Borgata Winter Poker Open and found 160 of the counterfeit poker chips
with a tournament value of 5,000, totaling 800,000, among the genuine
casino chips. The compromise forced officials to cancel Event 1 of the
tournament, while dozens of uncompromised events were allowed to
The entry fee for the tournament was $560, but the chips
the players used in the tournament don’t have any value as U.S.
The state Division of Gaming Enforcement temporarily
froze the prize money involved in the canceled event. Lupo said that
edict from the state remains in effect.
"We are very pleased that
the New Jersey State Police Casino Gaming Bureau has apprehended a
suspect in connection with the counterfeit chip activity that
compromised Event 1 of the Borgata Poker Open," Lupo said. "While this
is a very positive development, the investigation by the (Division of
Gaming Enforcement) and the state police is ongoing."
The Division of Gaming Enforcement couldn’t immediately say what would become of prize money or buy-in
fees paid by players.
division is committed to ensuring confidence and integrity in all
gaming operations and will continue to work with Borgata and the New
Jersey State Police until this case is closed," it said in a statement.
investigation revealed evidence that Lusardi introduced the counterfeit
chips into the tournament on multiple occasions, state police Trooper
Jeffrey Flynn said. It also was determined that Lusardi won $6,814
during the tournament.
Lusardi was jailed on $300,000 bail, with no option to pay 10 percent in cash to gain his release.
event under scrutiny is the tournament’s Big Stack, No Limit Hold ‘Em
event. It began on Tuesday and there were 27 people remaining in the
contest when play was suspended.
Wayne Parry can be reached at
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