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Mohegan Sun dealer charged with overpaying blackjack player $78,000

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A Mohegan Sun table games dealer charged with overpaying a blackjack player more than $78,390 and collecting part of the winnings told investigators he was upset about being reduced from a full-time to a part-time employee and needed the money.

Roy Mariano, 52, of 453 Bayonet St., New London, who had worked at Mohegan Sun since the casino opened in October 1996, was presented Monday in New London Superior Court on a charge of first-degree larceny.

Attorney Kevin C. Barrs from the Public Defender's Office entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

The player, 36-year-old Marlene Rivera of Southbridge, Mass., also has been charged with first-degree larceny. She has not yet entered a plea in the case, according to court records.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, officer Thomas Nickerson from the Mohegan Tribal Police began investigating the case on Sept. 1 at the request of Tribal Gaming Commissioner Robert Bjork.

Nickerson reviewed surveillance video allegedly showing Mariano placing a black gaming chip, valued at $100, in the middle of a stack of red chips, valued at $5 each, every time he paid Rivera. Seeing the video, he and another officer removed Mariano and Rivera from the table and took them to the police department to be interviewed.

Mariano said the casino had changed him from full time to part time in March 2015. He said he was upset because he is handicapped and needs the money.

He said in May or June, Rivera approached him and said, "if he helped her, she would help him with money," according to the affidavit. He said he started giving Rivera extra chips when he paid her winning bets and that she would hand him money as he walked from the table to the break room. He said he didn't remember how much money she had given him.

Rivera, whom police suspected was being deceptive during her interview, said Mariano approached her boyfriend and the two men had come up with a plan for Mariano to overpay the boyfriend. She said the boyfriend played several times and that Mariano gave him half of the winnings, according to the affidavit. She said she started playing and that Mariano began giving her half of the winnings.

A review of surveillance tapes showed that Mariano overpaid Rivera during 16 different gambling sessions in the month of August, the affidavit said. In addition to hiding $100 chips in a stack of $5 chips, the recordings also showed Mariano hiding a $100 chip underneath a card used to cut the deck and sliding it to Rivera, according to the affidavit.

The surveillance department checked but could not find recordings of Mariano and Rivera meeting after they left the gaming pit. The police said several supervisors were working on the days that Mariano was overpaying Rivera and it did not appear that any of them were aware of the cheating.

Mariano and Rivera are both free on bond while their cases are pending.

k.florin@theday.com

Twitter: @KFLORIN

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