Prison time for man who flushed fake poker chips down Atlantic City toilet

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 22, 2015 11:27 AM

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) - A man who was caught with counterfeit poker chips at a tournament in an Atlantic City casino after flushing $2.7 million worth of them down a hotel toilet was sentenced to five years in prison on Thursday.

Christian Lusardi, 43, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, had pleaded guilty to second-degree trademark counterfeiting and third-degree criminal mischief on Aug. 13. He was sentenced by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury in Atlantic County, prosecutors said.

Lusardi's lawyer, Steven Nelson, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The chips were discovered on Jan. 16, 2014, two days after the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, began hosting its "Winter Poker Open" in which Lusardi was competing.

Prosecutors said Lusardi, fearing he might be caught, flushed more than 500 fake poker chips down the toilet in his room at the nearby Harrah's Casino Hotel, clogging a pipe and causing a leak in the sewer line in two adjoining rooms.

State gaming authorities canceled the tournament on Jan. 18, 2014, when 22 other fake chips were found in a clogged toilet in a Borgata men's room.

"While Lusardi's bungled attempt to dispose of his phony chips was suitable for a Hollywood comedy, the truth is he committed very serious crimes in carrying out his high-stakes counterfeiting scheme," New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said in a statement.

Lusardi was previously ordered to pay Borgata $463,540 for lost tournament revenue, and Harrah's $9,455 for plumbing damage. He was also sentenced in March to five years in prison in a separate case involving DVD bootlegging.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson and Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Grant McCool)