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Former Starlight Employee Plays with his Criminal Record and Keeps it Free

Former Starlight Employee Plays with his Criminal Record and Keeps it Free

A Starlight Casino controversy happened this month when an employee was accused of a breach of trust. According to reports published in 2020, the now-former employee was caught taking advantage of his position by cashing in lottery tickets while the casino, managed by Gateway Casino was closed due to the global pandemic.

Read about casino closures during global pandemic.

The 43-year-old ex-employee avoided a criminal conviction when his case was heard in court this week, and got away with basically stealing from his employer. The former staffer at the casino near Sarnia got a relatively free pass from the judge on account of suffering from a serious gambling addiction, on the condition that he seeks help for his addiction. The ex-dealer has also had to fold on a career spanning two decades in the gaming industry.

Coming to the defense of the former employee, his lawyer Terry Brandon said, “my client has an illness”, explaining that “this gambling addiction, he’s taken (it) very seriously.”

Read about a drug that caused a British Columbian woman to compulsively gamble.

The judge presiding over the case was Justice Krista Lynn Leszczynski, who was very understanding of the defendant’s long-term problem. Although making it clear that the charge was a very serious one, the judge was willing to give the disgraced dealer a conditional discharge, providing that he complies with the one-year probation. Because of this sentencing, his name will also not be released to the public.

The court heard how in May of 2020, the police department started to investigate an allegation of theft at the casino in Point Edward, the village on the northwest of Sarnia. Several instant-gift lottery tickets assigned to the Venetian Boulevard casino were validated on April 23 and April 24. The payout was especially suspicious because the facility was closed down a month earlier in Ontario’s first lockdown at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While reading the facts to the court, Lambton’s Crown attorney David Rows said, “due to the casino being closed and the large number of tickets being validated in a two-day time period, the activity was deemed suspicious.”

This triggered an audit that found that multiple tickets had been cashed at a Sarnia convenience store some five kilometres away from the casino. After checking the store’s video surveillance footage, the police were able to identify the accused, who turned out to be a Gateway Casino employee. Multiple charges were laid after the ex-employee was arrested, but this was eventually dropped to just one.

“On his arrest – although there was initial hesitation – he later contacted the police himself and gave a full confession,” Brandon said. The defendant eventually confessed to the theft and pleaded guilty to a single charge of theft under $5,000.

Rows did not seem too happy with the outcome of the case, as he argued “The Crown is suggesting that a suspended sentence may be appropriate having regard for the breach of trust that has occurred”. This would have also carried a criminal conviction with it.

Ms. Brandom counter-argued that actually, her client deserved a discharge since he had no prior convictions and was willing to undertake counselling to help him deal with his addiction. This would “allow this man to earn back his good name after living 40-some years without issue,” she said.

Starlight Casino Controversy ends well

Although the man’s criminal record remained intact, he still has to pay $320 in restitution to his former employer. Apart from that, his probation also states that he is banned from going to any casino facility in Ontario for the next year. Despite this, the judge concluded that she is “satisfied that (counselling) has gone a long way in terms of earning a discharge in these circumstances” and “with that, I will grant a discharge.”

Image Source: Facebook Starlight Casino.

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