Man sentenced for bilking $7M from casinos

SAN DIEGO – A San Diego man who led a card-cheating ring that bilked dozens of casinos out of $7 million was sentenced Monday to nearly six years in federal prison.

Phuong Quoc Truong has acknowledged leading the ring, known as the “Tran Organization,” that targeted 27 casinos across the country, including three American Indian casinos near San Diego. The operation began in 2002.

Truong pleaded guilty in federal court in April 2008 to racketeering conspiracy. On Monday, he was ordered to pay $5.7 million in restitution and forfeit nearly $2.8 million in fines plus two homes, property in Vietnam, a 2001 Porsche Carrera, a Rolex watch and jewelry.

Truong bribed casino card dealers and supervisors to perform “false shuffles” when he or one of his associates signaled, creating “slugs,” or groups of unshuffled cards. Once the slug appeared on the table, the ring members knew the order of the next cards, and could bet accordingly.

Prosecutors also said the organization used hidden transmitters and software to predict the order in which the cards would appear in blackjack games.

The Department of Justice said 37 defendants have pleaded guilty to charges relating to the ring’s conspiracy.

Truong was also sentenced on separate charges that were transferred to San Diego from the Western District of Washington. The charges were related to cheating at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma.