Cheating case moving forward without cheating charge

A jury that will begin deliberating next week whether two New York City men conspired with Mohegan Sun dealers to cheat the casino at mini-baccarat will no longer be considering the actual charge of cheating against Leonard Hu and Hung Lit Leung.

New London Superior Court Judge Arthur C. Hadden granted a motion by defense attorneys Jeremiah Donovan and Conrad Seifert to dismiss the cheating charges Friday, saying the state law on cheating does not clearly prohibit someone from participating in a game with marked cards.

The law "prohibits anyone involved in a lawful gambling game to knowingly mark cards."

"There is no evidence or inference that these defendants marked the cards," Hadden said. "There is no evidence that they even touched the cards."

Hu and Leung remain charged with conspiracy and larceny. Both sides rested their cases Friday, and attorneys are scheduled to deliver closing arguments Monday. The six-member jury will begin deliberating after the judge instructs them on the charges.

Prosecutor Stephen M. Carney alleges the two men conspired with two former Mohegan Sun dealers to gain an advantage over the casino using marked cards. The dealers, Jeian Ng and Bong Gate Louie, admitted marking cards after a man identified only as "Lee" approached Ng in the poker room at Foxwoods Resort Casino in 2010.

Hu and Leung were arrested in February 2011 after a surveillance investigator noticed the table at which they were playing lost an unusually high amount of money and reviewed video tape in which he said they increased their bets when a marked card was coming out.

While the defense attorneys claimed the state failed to prove any link between the dealers and the two defendants, the state claimed they could be linked through circumstantial evidence, including the amounts of money the two men won as a result of the marked cards.

Mohegan Sun's director of operational accounting, David Thomlinson testified Friday that based on the casino's "theoretical hold" calculation, Hu was expected to lose $150,000 at mini-baccarat between October 2010 and February 2011 but instead won $468,500. Leung was expected to lose $51,297 during the same period but won $165,370.

The casino calculates its theoretical hold, or expected winnings, by multiplying the house advantage, the length of time played, the average bet and the decisions (bets) per hour. The casino was able to track the gambling activity of Hu and Leung because both men are "rated" players who presented their player's card when gambling.

k.florin@theday.com

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