Monday, March 22, 2010 | 3:41 p.m.
Map of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
4455 Paradise Road, Las Vegas
An insurance company is suing two former Hard Rock hotel-casino employees, charging they were involved in the theft of $831,519 from the Las Vegas resort.
National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania filed suit last week in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas against Jhirmal Earl Winfield and Sammy Sampson II, both of whom were part of the Hard Rock table game count staff and both of whom have been charged in thefts from the resort.
"Defendants committed their illegal activity in a specifically calculated and escalating pattern of fraud and conversion, devised to defraud Hard Rock Hotel and Casino by generating false reports that did not reflect the actual amount of the money that was won by the casino and placed in the locked drop boxes to be counted in the count room," the lawsuit charges.
The insurance company says that on three occasions in March 2009, surveillance video recorded Winfield stealing sums ranging from $1,025 to $10,874 from the drop boxes of various blackjack tables.
The suit says that also in March 2009, video recorded Sampson stealing $9,000 from a blackjack drop box and an unknown amount from a craps table drop box.
A state Gaming Control Board report filed in Sampson’s criminal case indicates the scheme was simple: The defendant simply put stolen money in his work smock.
A video recording showed Sampson standing at his workstation, the report said.
"A few seconds later, he walked over to a table, picked up two large bundles of money and returned to his workstation. Sampson took the first bundle of money and put it in the money counter. Sampson then picked up a portion of the second bundle, folded it and placed the money inside his smock. Sampson took the remaining money and put it in the money counter," the report said.
Sampson was charged in Las Vegas Justice Court in July with three counts of felony theft related to the Hard Rock incidents. Those charges are pending.
Court records show Winfield pleaded guilty last August in District Court for Clark County to attempted theft for his role in the heists.
A Metro Police report on his arrest said Hard Rock officials had detected a low hold percentage on a certain blackjack table and ordered extra surveillance of the table. The table was watched for 24 hours and it was determined that $15,815 in cash had been inserted into the table’s drop box.
After the box was taken to the count room, Winfield "created two piles of money," the Metro report says.
"Winfield put one pile of money in a plastic tray, which was standard protocol. Winfield took the second pile of money with the drop box, placed the drop box back into a cart and then stuffed the money on his person," the report said.
A "game detail report" said $4,941 had been recovered from the drop box at the gaming table in question, a difference of $10,874 from what should have been in the box.
"This is the amount that Winfield placed on his person," the police report says.
Without specifying who took how much money, the insurance company said in its lawsuit: "Because of the losses perpetrated by Jhirmal Earl Winfield and Sammy Sampson II, National Union issued $831,519 in policy proceeds to Hard Rock Hotel and Casino."
Besides the incidents related in the lawsuits and in the criminal cases, "further acts of theft and fraud occurred and were not captured on video but were perpetrated by the defendants in furtherance of their ongoing scheme,'' the suit said.
"Defendants fraudulently and illegally absconded with cash during their shift by placing the cash in their clothing (coveralls) to avoid detection," the lawsuit charges. "Defendants were able to perpetrate their scheme to defraud the Hard Rock hotel and casino because they were trusted employees with an intimate knowledge of policy and and procedure."
The lawsuit, alleging fraud and other counts, seeks unspecified damages from the defendants.