A little more than three years ago Turlock Poker Room floor supervisor Robert Younan, 49, teamed up with Gabriel Urbieta Rodriguez, 74, and In Cha Say, 61, to steal $24,000 during an elaborate conspiracy at the popular gambling establishment.
Last month Younan and Say were convicted of conspiracy to commit grand theft. According to the Stanislaus County Superior Court, each received a suspended sentence of 170 days in jail and 36 months informal probation following a no contest plea. Rodriguez, who had several prior felony convictions, was sentenced to three years in prison.
The conviction included seven overt acts including obtaining 12 decks of cards from the poker room, marking the cards, bringing the marked cards back to the poker room, giving the cards to the floor manager (Younan), putting the cards in play, placing bets at the optimum time and cashing out once the marked cards were taken out of play.
“We regret that this situation occurred in the first place, but we are satisfied that it has concluded with a conviction,” said Turlock Poker Room & Casino Co-Owner Philip Rheinschild.
Agents with the state’s Bureau of Gambling Control arrested the thieves on July 12, 2010 at the poker room.
At the time the California Department of Justice reported that Rodriguez had won more than $24,000 in a span of 30 minutes.
The plan took two hours in total, however, as Rodriguez played at a blackjack table where players bet a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $2,500 per hand. At first, Rodriguez lost more than $6,000. But then, playing two or three hands at the same time, he began to win.
Turlock Poker Room employees became suspicious of his unusual playing patterns. Sometimes, when his cards added up to 17, Rodriguez would ask for another card, or “hit” – the opposite of normal strategy. Other times, he would “stand,” or decline another card, when his cards totaled 11 – also contrary to usual play.
After poker room employees introduced new cards to the table, Rodriguez immediately cashed out his chips and left.
Agents with the Bureau of Gambling Control later found the cards Rodriguez had played showed grease marks indicating their value. For 10s and face cards, there were marks on the outer edge, while 7s, 8s, and 9s were marked at the center. Other cards – aces, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s and 6s – were not marked.
A surveillance video showed Say placing a large yellow bag behind Younan, the card room floor supervisor. Younan walked to the bag and, minutes later, swapped out the cards in the six deck “shoe,” a container that held the cards for the blackjack table where Rodriguez was playing.