Woman sentenced to 3 years in federal prison for role in casino - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Woman sentenced to 3 years in federal prison for role in casino scheme

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A woman was sentenced in San Diego Friday to three years in federal prison for her role in a scheme to cheat casinos across the country out of millions of dollars.

Van Thu Tran, 47, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John Houston, who ordered her to pay $5.7 million in restitution and forfeit her interests in various assets, including jewelry and bank accounts.

Tran pleaded guilty in January 2011.

In her plea agreement, the defendant admitted that in approximately August 2002, she along with co-conspirators Phuong Quoc Truong, Tai Khiem Tran, and others, created a criminal enterprise defined as the Tran Organization, based in San Diego and elsewhere, for the purposes of participating in gambling cheats at casinos across the United States.

Van Thu Tran admitted that she and her co-conspirators unlawfully made up to $7 million cheating at cards.

The investigation of the Tran Organization led to the filing of three separate indictments in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

A three-count indictment returned in May 2007 charged Thu Tran and 13 others with conspiracy to participate in the affairs of a racketeering enterprise and other counts.

According to court documents, the defendants and others executed a "false shuffle" cheating scheme at casinos in the United States and Canada during blackjack and mini-baccarat games.

Members of the Tran Organization bribed casino card dealers and supervisors to perform false shuffles during the games, thereby creating "slugs" or groups of unshuffled cards, according to court documents.

Organization members would then bet on the known order of cards when the "slug" appeared on the table.

By doing so, members of the conspiracy repeatedly won thousands of dollars during card games, including several hundred thousand dollars on one occasion, authorities said.

Court documents show that members of the Tran Organization used sophisticated mechanisms for tracking the order of cards during games, including hidden transmitter devices and specially created software that would predict the order in which cards would reappear during blackjack games.

To date, 42 defendants have pleaded guilty in the card-cheating conspiracy.

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