A husband and wife have been charged in an alleged gambling scheme by the state of California.
Khan “Tina” Tran, 33, was a dealer at the Parkwest 580 Casino in Livermore. Her husband, Eric Nguyen, 38, was a professional gambler known for his frequent and significant winnings.
The charges allege that Tran and Nguyen cheated at the card game baccarat. Tran is accused of peeking at the sequence of cards after shuffling, and tipping off her husband so that he could place sizable wagers. Text messages were also reportedly part of the scheme.
According to the state, the pair stole nearly $4 million from the casino. Now, they’ve been charged with felony grand theft, conspiracy to commit grand theft, and an enhancement alleging a theft of over $500,000.
In total, they each face 10 felony counts.
Timeline of the California casino theft
According to the complaint, Tran and Nguyen committed the felonies between 2015 and 2017. Authorities arrested them in Harris County, Texas, on May 6.
In 2016, an employee expressed concern over Nguyen’s gambling habits. Then, the casino opened an investigation with the Department of Justice’s California Bureau of Gambling Control. Nguyen was also a former employee of the casino.
Nguyen and Tran allegedly cheated at the game on three consecutive days from May 19 to 21 of 2016. The first “overt act” detailed in the charges took place on Jan. 7, 2015. The last happened on June 12, 2016.
“My office stands ready to fight back against those who try to get rich quick by breaking the law,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Mr. Nguyen and Ms. Tran now face serious criminal charges for their actions. The California Department of Justice will do its part to tackle criminal activity in our state.”
Duo allegedly used text messages to cheat
The state’s complaint, which you can read in full here, alleges Tran would send Nguyen text messages with a sequence of card numbers and approximate card positions to cheat at the game.
It cites 11 “overt acts” and also states Tran “did communicate a sequence of cards” to Nguyen on numerous occasions.
In the overt acts detailed in the complaint, the pair allegedly defrauded the casino of at least $950,000 each time.
Attorney General Becerra keeping busy
The official press release notes Becerra also secured a more than $3 million settlement against Hawaiian Gardens Casino for “misleading gambling regulators and violating federal laws intended to protect against money laundering.”
In 2019, the California Department of Justice arrested two people for their involvement in an embezzlement scheme that resulted in the theft of more than $200,000 from the Red Hawk Tribal Casino.
In a more positive piece of news, Becerra recently worked with Stars Casino to find a solution that allowed the property to reopen its facilities by moving operations outdoors. Stars Casino is the first cardroom in the state to reopen after being closed a second time due to the coronavirus.