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Arraignment set for alleged scammers

Aug 12, 2003 6:21 AM

A Lake Tahoe casino employee and his alleged accomplice, who investigators say stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Harveys Hotel/Casino, will be arraigned in Tahoe Township Justice Court on Aug. 25.

The report of the arrest of Jason Lawrence, 28, and Stephen Johnson, 21, by agents of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, was first reported exclusively in GamingToday last month.

The agents allege that Lawrence, a pit boss, scammed his employers by approving "markers" or in-house checks submitted by his associate, Johnson, and then signing off on the documents indicating that they had been repaid. Johnson, investigators said, would then play with the chips he was issued for a short time and then redeem them for cash.

No further details of the alleged theft were given other than for the authorities to say that casino surveillance personnel at Harveys observed the pair falsifying markers on May 31.

Prosecutors say that conviction could result in a 24-year prison term and a $30,000 fine for Lawrence. Johnson, they said, faces a 12-year prison term and a $20,000 fine if convicted.

Although not part of the marker investigation, Nevada gaming regulators also reported on the arrest of Patricia Diaz, who was identified as a long-time employee at Harveys Casino. For the past half-dozen years, she worked as a dealer. And, it was in that capacity, officials charged, that Diaz stole gaming chips valued in excess of $700,000.

Diaz will be given a preliminary hearing on grand theft and racketeering charges on Aug. 28.