Nearly two years after he attempted to cheat his way to victory at Borgata, Christian Lusardi has been sentenced to five years in prison, the Associated Press reported.
In January 2014, scandal rocked the poker world when tournament officials determined the $2 million guaranteed opening event of the Borgata Winter Poker Open had been compromised by counterfeit chips. After a temporary suspension while an investigation got underway, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement ended up canceling the tournament, a devastating development for the 27 remaining runners who were competing for a top prize of $372,123.
Ultimately, investigators identified Lusardi, 43, of Fayetteville, N.C., as the culprit after he attempted to flush 494 fake T5,000 and nine fake T25,000 chips down the toilet of his room at Harrah's Casino Hotel. His attempt to dispose of the evidence only led to clogged plumbing and quick apprehension. According to the Associated Press story, Lusardi purchased the chips online from a Chinese manufacturer and tailored them to look like the Borgata chips.
Lusardi, whose criminal rap sheet also includes international DVD bootlegging, pleaded guilty to the second-degree counterfeiting charges earlier this year and was ordered to pay Borgata $463,540 and Harrah's $9,455 for damages. Prosecutors recommended concurrent sentences of five years for counterfeiting and three years for criminal mischief, and it seems the judge agreed.
“When you gamble on a flush in high-stakes poker, you either win big or lose big,” Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said after Lusardi's guilty plea. “Lusardi lost big when his alleged scheme was foiled by a leaking sewer pipe, which led to his quick apprehension by the New Jersey State Police Casino Investigations Unit.”