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Man Arrested at Trial for Casino Theft

5 January 2011 by admin

washington-co-courthouseTalk about a bad day! A Pennsylvania man was arrested at the courthouse where he stands trial for theft. Now he faces charges in two states: Pennsylvania and Nevada.

Andre Nestor, 39, arrived at the courthouse in Pennsylvania, where he is being charged with 650 felony counts of theft, criminal conspiracy, computer trespassing and more. Shortly after the jury selection process had begun, FBI agents interrupted the hearing, placed Nestor in their custody and walked out of the courthouse with him. He will be brought to a federal courthouse in Las Vegas, where he is accused of conducting the same scam.

According to authorities, Nestor and two accomplices used a glitch in the slot machine software to steal almost $500,000 from the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in western Pennsylvania as well as nearly $1.4 million from casinos in Las Vegas. The authorities say that Nestor, who was a high roller at the casinos, convinced casino employees to alter the slot machines to unlock features that would make them pay out more.

George Joseph, who is founder of Worldwide Casino Consulting, said that “new products sometimes have glitches and weaknesses.” He said that such glitches could be used to make the machine hit the jackpot inappropriately. Authorities say that Nestor uses special keystrokes on the slots to trigger the jackpot-inducing glitches. According to Joseph, that is “not something that a person could sit down and find out by accident.”

handcuffed prisonerNestor denies any wrongdoing, saying in a television interview that he was “being arrested federally for winning on a slot machine.” The two other men named in the complaints, though, who the authorities say were his accomplices, have pleaded guilty. Kerry Laverde pleaded guilty on Monday of receiving stolen property and Patrick Loushil pleaded guilty earlier and was expected to testify against Nestor in the Pennsylvania trial.

Washington County (Pennsylvania) Prosecutor Steven Toprani said that he had been in communication with Nevada authorities and agreed to turn Nestor over to the federal agents. The federal agents will try him in Nevada and are not saying which Las Vegas casinos he allegedly targeted.

Despite the charges against him and the fact that both alleged accomplices have pleaded guilty, Nestor remains adamant that he has done nothing wrong. He says all he did was press a button on the machine, stating that “my advantage is that you can win at will. It’s not my fault that their programming allowed a player to win at will.” That will be for a jury to decide.

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