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Harold Kravitz, a senior citizen from Randolph, Mass., was once a regular at Mohegan Sun who was so well-liked that he attended one employee’s wedding.
Now he’s a convicted felon, banned from casinos because he scammed a dealer out of $35,000 in a bogus investment scheme.
Kravitz, 79, pleaded guilty to third-degree larceny in New London Superior Court Wednesday. He was spared from prison time because he has fully repaid the victim.
Judge Susan B. Handy ordered him to stay out of casinos as she handed down a suspended sentence.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” Handy told Kravitz. “You’re 79 years old. You stole $35,000 from a woman who thought you were her friend.”
Kravitz and his wife had been friendly with the woman and attended her daughter’s wedding, according to his attorney, Paul F. Chinigo.
According to state police, Kravitz convinced the woman, a longtime employee of the casino, that he could double her money if she gave him cash. He said a nephew owned a burglary alarm system company and had a big contract with a synagogue in Westport.
The woman took money out of her retirement plan to invest with Kravitz, and when that ran out, she borrowed $10,000 from a friend, according to state police. He gave her postdated checks as collateral but told her not to cash them.
Kravitz tried to repay her with gambling wins, according to Chinigo.
“There’s always the hope you’ll get that big hit and pay it off,” Chinigo said.
Finally, the dealer confronted Kravitz and said she would tell his wife about the scheme if he did not repay her. Kravitz broke down and admitted he has had a gambling problem since he was 15, according to an arrest warrant affidavit in the case. He admitted the crime to state police detectives and said he would sell his house to repay the woman.
Following his arrest, Kravitz’s wife and other family members helped raise the money to repay the victim. Chinigo said he was mailing a check on Wednesday.
The judge imposed a sentence of one year in prison, fully suspended, followed by two years of conditional discharge. She told Kravitz that despite his age, she would not hesitate to send him to prison if he comes back before her.