Illusionist Added to Nevada’s “Black Book” for Casino Fraud

The Nevada Gaming Commission has unanimously voted to add illusionist Shaun Joseph Benward to the infamous “black book” for his involvement in a series of casino fraud schemes. The decision came after it was revealed that Benward had been trespassed from 17 Nevada properties, making him a significant threat to the state’s gaming industry.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Michael Somps, who presented the case against Benward, described the illusionist as having a “fairly extensive” history of fraudulent activities not only in Nevada but across the country. Benward’s modus operandi involved distracting roulette dealers with the help of an accomplice and placing late bets, resulting in substantial financial gains.

The board’s nomination of Benward was based on the belief that his presence in licensed gaming establishments posed a significant threat to the state of Nevada and its licensed gaming industry. This decision aligns with the actions taken by four other states, including Mississippi, where Benward hails from.

According to Somps, Benward’s criminal activities extend far beyond Nevada’s borders. Police in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Missouri, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Indiana have all arrested him on charges related to theft, fraud, and cheating. The Delaware State Lottery office has even confirmed Benward’s involvement in multiple casino cheating incidents nationwide.

The addition of Benward to the Nevada List of Excluded Persons brings the total number of individuals on the list to 36. The most recent addition before Benward was Leonard Hairston, a 65-year-old who was included in November 2022.

Benward’s journey towards being blacklisted began in 2017 when board agents suspected his involvement in a roulette scheme across several Southern Nevada casinos. Subsequent arrests in November 2020 and August 2021 by the Las Vegas police led to his guilty plea in September 2022. However, those charges were dismissed in September, according to court records, on the condition that Benward stayed out of trouble for a year.

To determine whether an individual should be added to the “black book,” the board and commission consider various factors. In Benward’s case, it was found that he had been served with the board’s order of nomination and notice of candidacy, both through mail and in person. Despite having 30 days to request a hearing before the commission, Benward did not do so.

During the commission meeting, which Benward did not attend, Senior Deputy Attorney General Michael Somps presented a compelling case against the illusionist. Following his presentation, the commission unanimously voted to add Benward to the list, effectively barring him from all licensed gaming establishments in Nevada.

This decision serves as a stern warning to those who seek to defraud casinos and undermine the integrity of the gaming industry. With Benward’s name now etched into the annals of the “black book,” it is clear that Nevada will not tolerate such illicit activities within its borders.

Author: CrimeDoor

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