Las Vegas Sun

May 24, 2017

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State Supreme Court throws out mother, daughter slot cheating convictions

CARSON CITY — A mother and a daughter, each convicted of more than 30 counts of slot cheating in casinos in Clark County, have drawn some relief from the Nevada Supreme Court.

LaVonna Wallace and her daughter Stephanie Balsamo were accused of using a cheating device to bilk the slot machines at Nevada Landing, Gold Strike and Whiskey Pete’s casinos in 2006.

The two were accused of using an instrument with a light to manipulate the machines and get unauthorized payouts.

The mother was convicted of 43 cheating and burglary counts. The Supreme Court ruled there was insufficient evidence to uphold the convictions on 22 of the cheating counts.

The court invalidated 15 of the counts of use of a cheating device because it was never seen in Wallace’s possession at the machines that were allegedly cheated. And seven of the 12 counts of possession of a cheating device were thrown out.

The daughter was convicted of 36 counts of cheating and burglary. The court said there was insufficient evidence to support 15 of Balsamo’s convictions for use of a cheating device, described about the size of a short coat hanger with a light attached.

Balsamo was not seen in the possession of the unit at the time the alleged cheating was under way.

Security officers testified that one of the women would insert the device into the machines to draw the payout. The other woman would place a pack of cigarettes over the payout meter to hide the combinations on the slot machine. A purse was placed top of the payout chute to conceal the maneuvering, they testified.

The Supreme Court rejected the argument that the errors denied the women a right to a fair trial.

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