Ex-casino employee arraigned in Easter promotion scheme

By Ed Lewis - [email protected]
The Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Plains Township. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader file

WILKES-BARRE — A former host at Mohegan Sun Pocono casino accused of participating in a scheme to rig an Easter sweepstakes in 2014 was arraigned Tuesday.

Kenneth Rowlands, 32, of Kingston, surrendered before District Judge Joseph Spagnuolo Jr. on charges of theft, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy to participate in a rigged contest.

Spagnuolo arraigned Rowlands at Luzerne County Central Court and released him on $15,000 unsecured bail. Rowlands was accompanied by his attorney, Peter Moses.

Authorities allege Rowlands was in on the scheme that involved two other casino employees — Robert Joseph Pellegrini, 52, a former vice president of player development, and Colin Ray Boecker, 32 — plus casino patron Mark Heltzel.

According to criminal complaints:

Boecker set up the Easter sweepstakes, which offered patrons the opportunity to select plastic eggs that contained cash prizes and free slot credits.

Rowlands had to make sure Heltzel was made aware that a certain egg contained the grand prize of $10,000, which he picked on April 27, 2014. Heltzel then gave some of the cash to Pellegrini, Boecker and Rowlands.

Boecker, of Tonawanda, New York, and Pellegrini are facing similar charges. They have not been arraigned.

Heltzel, 53, of Dallas, has not been charged in this case, but pleaded guilty in another.

The alleged contest rigging happened before Pellegrini was involved another scheme with Heltzel and former casino waitress Rochelle Poszeluznyj, 40, of Kingston.

Pellegrini, Heltzel and Poszeluznyj were charged in 2016 in the scheme that ran from May 2014 to April 2015 and involved the theft of personal identification numbers, or PINs, from gamblers. The numbers were then used to create duplicate rewards cards with $478,000 in free play credits.

Heltzel gambled with the cards and split the winnings with Pellegrini and Poszeluznyj who stole the PINs.

Heltzel was sentenced last August to 18 months in federal prison. Poszeluznyj was sentenced to six months on house arrest and two years on probation.

Pellegrini, meanwhile, is serving a 32-month federal prison term for that case.

The Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Plains Township.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_TTL122615MoheganSun3-1.jpgThe Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Plains Township. Sean McKeag | Times Leader file

By Ed Lewis

[email protected]