Las Vegas Convicted Chip Thief Faces Eight Years Or More In Prison
A convicted repeat gaming chip thief is expected to spend at least eight years in prison based on a sentence this week. But during a Las Vegas virtual court appearance on Wednesday, he claimed the case was “fixed.”
William Ferguson, 66, was convicted by a jury in April for allegedly stealing an estimated $20,000 worth of chips. The thefts came from roulette tables at five Nevada gaming properties during 2019, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The thefts took place at New York-New York, Golden Nugget, the Palms, Binion’s, and Wynn Las Vegas, prosecutors said. It appears the thefts were videotaped by surveillance cameras in the casinos.
Since the 1990s, Ferguson allegedly either stole or tried to steal more than $150,000 worth of chips, the Review-Journal added.
In court on Wednesday, Ferguson interrupted District Judge Monica Trujillo multiple times when as she tried to speak. He used profanities and challenged evidence used in his case, the Review-Journal said.
“You are very evil, evil, cold-hearted dogs,” Ferguson told court officials on Wednesday, the Review-Journal reported. “They fixed a way to get a guilty verdict on me.”
Trujillo, who before becoming a judge was a Nevada public defender representing indigent clients, suggested that Ferguson was a “habitual” criminal.
This is a hard one, because the habitual criminal statute proposes to deter repetitive behavior,” the judge said in court. “And I’m not sure how much more repetitive you can get with steadily increasing your wealth from people and businesses of Clark County.”
Next week, Ferguson will return to court to hear how much he will have to pay in restitution for the thefts. Over recent decades, Ferguson was found guilty on nine counts in trials for similar charges, the report adds. He was imprisoned multiple times.
DA Wanted Him To Get Life in Prison
Ferguson’s repeated behavior led Deputy District Attorney Brianna Lamanna, who prosecuted the case, to ask that Ferguson be given a life sentence.
When someone spends 26 years of their life living a life of crime, I do think that it’s appropriate,” Lamanna told the judge in requesting the life sentence, the Review-Journal reported. “When you victimize tourists in our town, where tourists are our lifeblood.”
But Michael Sanft, the veteran Las Vegas criminal defense attorney representing Ferguson, pointed out the chips were not cashed in at the casinos.
“He’s obviously talented enough to take these chips off the table,” Sanft was quoted by the newspaper. “But in terms of the stuff that was actually taken in these situations, it’s not to the level where we’re saying this guy is a threat to the economic engine of Nevada.”
Other Chip Thefts
The theft of chips has taken place numerous times in casinos and in other locations nationwide. For instance, Brock Brewer was arrested in May for allegedly stealing a safe containing $750,000 in cash and $250,000 in poker chips from the Henderson, Nev. residence of pro poker player Chad Power.
Across the country in Maryland, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore was the site of the theft of $16,000 worth of chips. A local man was charged in the 2019 crime.
Also, in April, Lucas Bunn, 25, of Kelso, Wash., broke into the state’s ilani Casino Resort. He made his way to the high-limit area on the gaming floor and allegedly used a drill to break into the table where chips were held. He then allegedly stole $12,500 worth of gaming chips. Later, Bunn was apprehended.
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