Former casino executive arraigned in Easter promotion scam

By Ed Lewis - [email protected] | April 11th, 2018 12:12 pm - updated: 10:29 pm.

PLAINS TWP. — A former executive at Mohegan Sun Pocono casino was arraigned Wednesday on charges he conspired with other casino employees to rig a $10,000 Easter sweepstakes in 2014.

Robert Joseph Pellegrini, 52, a former vice president of player development, appeared before District Judge Joseph Spagnuolo Jr. in Plains Township on charges of theft, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy to participate in a rigged contest. Bail was set at $15,000.

Pellegrini, of Fairview Township, is currently serving a 32-month federal prison sentence for his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection to an unrelated scheme at the casino.

He was in state police custody when he was arraigned by Spagnuolo. He is being housed at the Federal Correctional Institution at Schuylkill in Minersville, Schuylkill County.

State police Gaming Enforcement Bureau alleged Pellegrini, and former casino employees Colin Ray Boecker, 32, of Tonawanda, New York, and Kenneth Rowlands, 32, of Kingston, conspired to rig an Easter sweepstakes in 2014 that offered patrons the opportunity to select plastic eggs that contained cash prizes and free slot credits.

Boecker set up the sweepstakes as Rowlands made sure casino patron Mark Heltzel, 53, of Dallas, selected the egg with the $10,000 grand prize, according to the criminal complaints.

Heltzel allegedly gave some of the crash to Pellegrini, Boecker and Rowlands.

Boecker and Rowlands are facing in county court these charges: theft, receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy to participate in a rigged contest and participating in a rigged contest.

Heltzel was not charged.

The alleged contest-rigging happened before Pellegrini was involved in 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.

Robert Pellegrini Pellegrini Times Leader file