Friday, July 23, 1999 | 11:05 a.m.
Six Las Vegas residents were arrested Thursday in connection with a national slot machine scam authorities believe resulted in more than $5 million in losses. One other Las Vegan is being sought.
FBI Special Agent Kevin Caudle said members of the Metro Police Repeat Offenders Program received information that a group of people with prior convictions for cheating slot machines was operating again. As a result, Metro, the Gaming Control Board and the FBI launched a joint investigation into the group's activities.
Sealed indictments against the group were handed down Tuesday after officers searched 12 Las Vegas homes and found schematic drawings of cheating devices, slot machines upon which the suspects practiced and items they believed were purchased with proceeds from the illegal activity, Caudle said.
Officers also found what they believe to be the lab the suspects used to design, manufacture and test their cheating devices at 8545 Summer Vista Ave. in Las Vegas, Caudle said.
The indictments were unsealed Thursday following the arrests, Caudle said.
Caudle said the group used cheating devices, including some they could activate remotely, to defraud slot machines in such places as Atlantic City and New Orleans. They are also suspected of hitting casinos located on Indian reservations throughout the country, he said. Those arrested Thursday on the federal charges of interstate travel in aid of racketeering, interstate transportation of stolen property and money laundering were: Ramon David Pereira, 52, Lisa Jane Luxom, 30, Richard Allen Ealey, 45, Tommy Glenn Carmichael, 49, Raul Ricardo Lescano, 40, and Charles Denton Clark, 38.
Carmichael and Lescano were arrested by the FBI and the New Jersey State Police in Atlantic City.
Clark was arrested at about 6 p.m. Thursday when officers responding to a prowler call made by Clark discovered the warrant for his arrest, Caudle said.
Clark had made the call from the West Charleston Boulevard apartment of Michael Joseph Balsalmo, 40, who remained at large this morning, Caudle said.
Caudle said Clark is expected to make his initial court appearance this afternoon. Pereira, Luxum and Ealey made their initial appearances Thursday and were placed on house arrest, he said.
Three other people were arrested on state charges after officers found cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines during their searches.
Milton Linford Boyd, 46, and Thomas James Kelly, 60, were arrested on illegal drug possession charges and Richard Dale Johnson, 60, was arrested on a possession of a cheating device charge.
There is a chance additional charges will be filed against those arrested, Caudle said. Additional arrests may also be made.
Caudle said some of those arrested have not worked in more than 10 years. He also noted the federal government will try to seize three of the homes that were searched. Each are worth more than $150,000, he said.
The arrests came 13 months after four people were arrested in connection with a scam that cheated Las Vegas casinos out of more than $5 million. In that case, federal officials accused Dennis Nikrasch, Eugene Bulgarino, Joan Bulgarino and Ronnie Gale McElveen of using a hand-held concealed computer or device to cheat slot machines over the course of one year.
"This (latest case) is certainly as big as that one, if not bigger," Caudle said. However, because so many states and casinos were reportedly involved, it will be difficult to determine how much was gained.
All four of the defendants in the earlier case entered plea agreements. Eugene Bulgarino, 66, got three years and 10 months in prison; his 66-year-old wife got four months in prison and four months of house arrest. McElveen, 60, received two years and nine months and Nikrasch, 57 and the alleged mastermind, got 7 1/2 years in prison.