Former casino exec gets probation in Easter sweepstakes scam

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
Pellegrini -

WILKES-BARRE — A former Mohegan Sun Pocono casino executive pleaded guilty this week to his role in an alleged conspiracy to rig a $10,000 Easter sweepstakes in 2014.

Robert Joseph Pellegrini, 52, was sentenced to probation. He admitted to a single misdemeanor count of theft by unlawful taking before Luzerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr.

He initially faced a felony charge of theft by deception, but he pleaded to a lesser charge as part of a plea deal.

Prosecutors also withdrew counts of receiving stolen property and participating in a rigged contest.

Pellegrini is a former vice president of player development at the casino.

According to police, he and two other former casino employees, Colin Ray Boecker, 32, of Tonawanda, New York, and Kenneth Rowlands, 32, of Kingston, conspired to rig the Easter contest.

The contest involved contestants selecting plastic eggs with cash prizes and free slot credits. Police say the conspiracy was designed to allow casino patron Mark Heltzel, 53, of Dallas, to select the egg with the $10,000 grand prize.

Heltzel then allegedly gave some of the cash to Pellegrini, Boecker and Rowlands, but he himself was not charged in this scheme.

Pellegrini was immediately sentenced Thursday to two years on probation. He is required to pay back his part of the $10,000, and he is barred from having contact with Mohegan Sun or any other casino. He is also prohibited from gambling.

Pellegrini’s probation term will be served after the completion of his federal sentence. He’s in the midst of a 32-month prison stay after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in an unrelated scheme at the casino.

Pellegrini, Heltzel and ex-casino waitress Rochelle Poszeluznyj were implicated in 2016 in a scheme that involved the theft of PINs, or personal identification numbers, from gamblers. The defendants then used the PINs to 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, prosecutors say.

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

Pellegrini reported back to federal prison after this week’s hearing.


By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan