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Kansas Man Acquitted of Defrauding Casino

25 January 2011 by admin

justice1011068897_67f3744648In a decision that has many people in the industry baffled, a Kansas man was acquitted of defrauding a casino by cashing in counterfeit chips, despite admitting to the fraud. Zhe Li, 38, a U.S. citizen and Wichita resident naturalized from China, was cleared by a jury, who had reasonable doubt that Li knew what he was doing.

Zhe Li was arrested on December 16, 2008 at the Argosy Casino for carrying counterfeit $100 chips. According to the prosecution, Li had exchanged or attempted to exchange more than $100,000 worth of counterfeit chips for cash.

In court, Li’s defense did not deny any of that. They admitted that the chips he had in his possession upon his arrest were counterfeit. They admitted that Li had exchanged or attempted to exchange more than $100,000 for chips that have an actual value totaling $0. However, Li’s lawyers stated that he was not guilty of fraud because he didn’t know the chips were counterfeit. Li told jurors that he had found a bag of chips in a trash bag by the side of the road. The jury considered that a reasonable doubt and acquitted him on the fraud charge.

Of course, the oldest excuses criminals have thought of are “it isn’t mine” and “I just found it” and “I had no idea!” It seems that everyone who has ever been arrested for having a baggie of drugs in their pocket says that they didn’t know it was there. Most say that it wasn’t their pants, as if borrowing someone else’s pants is a normal activity. If drugs are found in a car, someone else must have put them there! Recently, a man even denied knowledge of the cocaine police found in the crack of his butt. No, I’m not making that up.

Apparently, the jurors think it’s fine to defraud a company if you weren’t aware you were doing it. Additionally, they somehow think it’s likely that someone just happened upon a bag of $100,000 worth of casino chips and never once wondered if they were counterfeit or stolen. I’m not sure who showed worse judgment, Zhe Li or the jury.

In addition to being acquitted on the charge of defrauding the casino, Li was also acquitted on the charge of interstate transportation of fraud proceeds. Prosecutors stated that Li used more than $15,000 of the ill-gotten money and sent it to a Florida bank to pay off a Hummer H3. Li said that the money for the Hummer came not from cashing in the fraudulent chips, but from money his wife sent him from China. The jury again thought there was reasonable doubt.

Li was convicted of two charges, though. He was found to be in violation of the federal currency reporting law. The law requires banks to report all deposits of more than $10,000 to protect against money laundering. Prosecutors said that Li made four small deposits totaling $19,500 between October 29 and October 31, 2008 as a way of circumventing the reporting.

The other conviction was for lying on a food stamp application. When applying for food stamps, Li said that he did not have a vehicle or a substantial bank account, also lying about his income. Yes, folks, a man with a Hummer was on food stamps. The jury convicted him of that count in the indictment. Li’s sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

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