Wed, Feb 13, 1:25pm by Staff Writer
A worker at Darwin’s Sky City Casino and his brother-in law have been sentenced to home detention after stealing a customer’s winning Keno ticket worth more than A$53,000.
The customer presented the winning ticket worth A$53,353.60 on September 27, 2018 to Sky City employee Michael John Rich Tomas.
Ms Tomas told the customer that the ticket he presented had not won anything, when he knew it had won and subsequently pocketed it.
He drove his brother-in-law Jonathan De Guzman to the casino the next day to cash it in.
The scheme came unstuck when the casino employee that Mr De Guzman presented to ticket to became suspicious after remembering he had sold the ticket to someone else, the court heard.
Police weer alerted and discovered A$50,000 deposited in De Guzman’s bank account along with A$6,000 in cash at his home.
CCTV footage at the casino showed Mr Tomas going to “great lengths” to hide the ticket and eventually discretely take it with him.
Prosecutor Naomi Loudon said that security vision showed the moment the patron approached Mr Tomas with the winning ticket.
“Mr Tomas handed back four of the five tickets … he then reached beneath the counter and swapped the winning ticket with another one,” she told the court.
The next day, with Mr Tomas waiting in the car park, the court heard Mr De Guzman attended the casino and cashed in the winning ticket.
Casino employees are banned from gambling at Sky City Darwin and playing Keno in the Northern Territory.
Mr Tomas gave the winning ticket to his brother-in-law for this reason.
Mr De Guzman cashed the ticket as his own and received a $40,000 cheque and the remainder of the fraudulent winnings in cash.
A Darwin SKYCITY Casino worker and his brother-in-law have been sentenced to home detention after stealing a customer's winning Keno ticket worth more than $53,000.https://t.co/VlCetdLydC https://t.co/VlCetdLydC
— Move2Sydney (@movetosydney) February 12, 2019
A casino employee found the ticket with 36-year-old De Guzman’s license attached.
The staffer remembered selling the ticket to the real winner and recognised De Guzman as his colleague’s brother-in-law.
The court head that Mr Tomas had worked at the casino for 15 years and his actions were a “gross breach of trust”.
Prosecutor Loudon told the court the true winner was repaid his prize when police recovered the funs and never knew he had been conned until Mr Tomas’ colleague informed police.
She went on to say that this was not an opportunistic scheme, but rather one that was well thought out.
“This cannot be described as a spur-of-the-moment type of offence,” she said.
“The offenders engaged in a number of conscious and deliberate steps [and] that goes to the moral and criminal culpability,” Ms Loudon said.
Most of the fraudulent winnings have been recovered, but prosecutors would be seeking restitution of more than $8,000.
The court heard the employee who originally flagged the issue was reluctant to come forward, because of the close-knit associations of the keno staff.
He was also concerned about repercussions from the Filipino community, to which the accused men belong.
The men’s lawyer Thelma Gray said Mr Tomas was not motivated by personal financial gain and was helping his brother-in-law Mr De Guzman, who was under financial and emotional stress.
9news.com.au reports that Mr De Guzman’s marriage had ended, he had limited access to his children, a daughter had died in 2007 and he had depressive and PTSD symptoms, Ms Gray said.
“It was out of character and a spur of the moment decision … it was not a crime that was going to go unnoticed,” she said.
In Darwin Local Court, Mr Tomas received a 10-month jail sentence and Mr De Guzman eight months after pleading guilty to obtaining a benefit for deception.
They will be released after serving five months and four months respectively in home detention.
The true winner has been paid in full, but the two men will also have to pay back an outstanding A$7,353.60.
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