Las Vegas Sun

April 17, 2014

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Crime:

Woman involved in casino cheating ring sentenced to three years in prison

The woman behind the notorious Tran Organization casino cheating ring was sentenced to three years in prison on Friday.

The U.S. Justice Department said Van Thu Tran was sentenced in San Diego following her guilty plea in January 2011. She also was ordered to pay $5.7 million in restitution to the casino victims.

In her plea, Tran, co-founder of the Tran Organization, admitted she teamed up with others in August 2002 to participate in cheating schemes at about 29 casinos in Las Vegas and around the nation and in Canada. She admitted the group pocketed about $7 million through its efforts.

She and other defendants were initially charged in 2007 for executing the scheme at casinos during blackjack and mini-baccarat games. The case gained notoriety and was featured on the CNBC show "American Greed," which reported, ''Van Thu Tran and her husband Phuong Truong embarked on a life of crime conning casinos out of millions'' and that they often recruited conspirators who were relatives or dealers down on their luck.

The group bribed dealers and supervisors to perform false shuffles during card games, creating ''slugs'' or groups of unshuffled cards, investigators said.

After tracking the order of cards dealt in a game, a member of the organization would signal to the card dealer to perform a ''false shuffle'' and members of the group would then bet on the known order of cards when the ''slug'' appeared on the table. Using the scam, they repeatedly won thousands of dollars during card games.

The government also said that members of the organization used sophisticated means to track the order of cards, including hidden transmitter devices and software that would predict the order in which cards would reappear during blackjack games.

Las Vegas casinos targeted in the scheme were Palace Station and the Monte Carlo, the FBI said.

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