Robert Pellegrini Charged with Easter Egg Sweepstakes Fraud

Robert Pellegrini Easter Egg Sweepstakes - Mohegan Sun Pocono

The same man who helped Robert Pellegrini defraud the casino of $420,000 won 1st and 2nd prize in a 2014 Easter egg sweepstakes.

Robert Pellegrini, a former Pennsylvania casino executive already serving prison time in a money laundering case, has been charged with conspiring to fix a $10,000 Easter egg sweepstakes in 2014. In August 2017, Pellegrini was sentenced to 3 years in prison for his role in a $420,000 scheme to defraud Mohegan Sun.

The new charges allege that Robert Pellegrini conspired with a second man to rig the drawing of an April 2014 Easter egg sweepstakes. Prosecutors in Luzerne County brought the charges against Pellegrini, as well as two co-conspirators, Colin Ray Boecker and Kenneth Rowlands.

When Pennsylvania Live contacted Luzerne County’s public defender’s office, but the office did not return a call. The promotion took place at the Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania. The promotion allowed customers drawn randomly from a database to pick plastic eggs from an Easter basket. As the sweepstakes was advertised, the eggs contained random prizes.

Colin Ray Boecker and Kenneth Rowlands, both employees at the casino at the time, conspired to help a man, Mark Heltzel, win the 1st place and 2nd place prizes. These prizes equaled $10,000 in winnings, but Heltzel paid a kickback to Boecker, Rowlands, and Pellegrini for helping him win the sweepstakes. Pellegrini received a $2,000 bribe for “turning a blind eye” to the plot.

$420,000 Loyalty Card Scheme

Mark Heltzel was a part of the $420k scheme to defraud Mohegan Sun Pocono. Along with Robert Pellegrini and Rochelle Poszeluznyj, Heltzel worked together on a free slot card scheme for profit.

In the scheme, Rochelle Poszeluznyj, a cocktail waitress at the Pocono casino, would remember the PIN numbers of players’ loyalty cards. She would hand these numbers to Robert Pellegrini, who was in charge of the casino’s player loyalty program.

Robert Pellegrini’s Fake Loyalty Cards

Robert Pellegrini would upload free slots credits in fake loyalty cards, then handed these to Mark Heltzel. Mark Heltzel would play risk-free using these cards, which sometimes would win big money. In all, the three defrauded Mohegan Sun Pocono of $420,000.

When it became known, all three were charged with fraud and received prison sentences. As the mastermind and key cog in the conspiracy, Robert Pellegrini received the biggest sentence. Mark Heltzel received 18 months in prison for his crimes.

Mark Heltzel: States Evidence?

Because Mark Heltzel was involved in the Easter egg sweepstakes scheme, but has not been charged in the case, it is likely that Heltzel is working with the Luzerne County prosecutors office. Heltzel may have told prosecutors of the crime to receive a lighter sentence in the original case, or simply to have assured one of the other three conspirators never turned states evidence that would have sent him to prison a second time.

It also is possible that someone at the Mohegan Sun Pocono noticed that the man involved in defrauding the casino of $420,000 also won 1st and 2nd prize in a $10,000 2014 sweepstakes, which would have looked suspicious in any case. Whatever the case might be, it appears that prosecutors are charging three of the four men involved in the crime.

Mohegan Sun Pocono’s $1 Million Fine

Mohegan Sun Pocono may have had reason to have conducted a full internal investigation and report within the past few months. In December 2017, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) assessed a record $1 million fine against Mohegan Sun Pocono for the loyalty card program case.

While the casino was a victim of the crime, it also promoted Robert Pellegrini to the position which allowed the fraud. The PGCB believed casino security or the accounting office should have spotted the fraud earlier.