Sunday, 21 July 2024

Prosecution moves forward on Sho-Kah-Wah embezzlement case

HOPLAND, Calif. – The case against eight people alleged to have been involved in embezzling from Hopland Sho-Kah-Wah Casino is moving forward, with the defendants making court appearances this week.


The California Department of Justice's Bureau of Gambling Control, working with the Hopland Commissioned Police and Hopland Band of Pomo Indians' Tribal Gaming Agency, conducted an investigation beginning in November 2008 that resulted in the arrests, as Lake County News has reported.


The defendants are accused of embezzlement and grand theft for allegedly taking more than $102,000 from the casino, officials reported.


Those arrested included Joan Pickron of Ukiah, a former casino shift manager; Ukiah residents Alex Ralph Martin, John Steven Glass Jr. and Roberta Lynn Reeder; Thomas Jay Williams of Redwood Valley; Mary Ann Moore of Rohnert Park; Gloria Marie Nelson of Nice; and Teresa Marie Miller of Clearlake, the Department of Justice reported.


Assistant Mendocino County District Attorney Beth Norman said Reeder, Moore, Williams and Nelson turned themselves in and appeared in court on July 26 in response to a letter issued the previous month, telling them to appear.


The other four didn't show up on that date, and were picked up more recently on felony arrest warrants the county issued, Norman said.


The Mendocino County District Attorney's Office has filed complaints against the eight, she said.


The charges are filed chronologically, Norman said, depending on who was involved at what time during the course of the alleged embezzlement.


Norman explained that some of the defendants are facing more charges than others, with Pickron being the only defendant who allegedly was consistently involved throughout.

 

Brett Rhodes, chief of the tribe's police department, said the discovery of a possible internal theft came to light after the tribe's gaming commission began investigating a minor internal policy violation in October 2008.


He said the gaming commission conducted its own internal investigation, determining substantial theft had occurred and, as a result, it revoked Pickron’s gaming license.


Pickron is alleged to have used her position as a casino shift manager to create and authorize false jackpots in the casino's online accounting system. Rhodes said she is alleged to have paid out those false jackpots to known associates.


Rhodes said it was important to note that the gaming devices were in no way manipulated to create the false jackpots.


The investigation was turned over to Hopland’s Commissioned Police Department for criminal investigation. Rhodes said Lt. John Larsen diligently worked on the criminal investigation and involved the state Department of Justice's Gaming Division special agents when preparing several search warrants in connection with the case.


“These investigations and subsequent arrests on this case are an excellent example of law enforcement working in cooperative policing efforts at all levels to achieve positive outcomes,” Rhodes said.


Rhodes said the casino has had minimal internal issues previously, like any other private business operation, but those usually are handled in-house. Due to the large scale and the networking of others, this was a case that he said was ripe for criminal investigation and prosecution.


Miller was in court on Wednesday and is due back Friday, Norman said, along with some of her other co-defendants. Miller has posted bail, as have Pickron, Martin and the others except for Glass, who is being held due to warrants in other cases.


Norman said her goal is to have everybody return to court on Sept. 20 so they can start setting future court dates.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf.

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