An Ex-Casino Worker: Negative Effects of Gambling - Gambling's Ruined Lives

An Ex- Casino Worker Gets 21 Months for Theft
Source: The Miami Herald


Boxing champ and disgraced casino worker Ada Velez was sentenced Thursday to 21 months in prison after pleading guilty last month to grand theft.
The 37-year-old single mother was busted for giving away more than $100,000 worth of free play vouchers at the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino, where she was a casino service representative, between March and August of 2006.

In addition to the prison time, Velez will be on probation for 10 years.

She also must pay a portion of nearly $600,000 in restitution.

While players at the casino were supposed to be limited to $250 worth of vouchers for electronic gaming machines every month, an investigation showed that she handed out far more to regulars.

Velez said she received tips when she gave out the extra cards.

Five other people, all customers, were charged with grand theft. Three pleaded guilty and got five years probation: Terri Mallard, 40; Harry Baldassarre, 74, and Reinelda Baldassarre, 83.

Two others, Delray Beach couple Luis Alicea, 49, and Carmen Alverio, 65, have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

The 21-month sentence is the minimum that Broward Circuit Judge Stanton Kaplan could have handed down, although Velez's attorney asked him to consider an even lower sentence: 18 months of house arrest, 42 months of probation, restitution and community service, including talking to children about her mistakes.

Attorney Barry Butin argued that Velez had never been arrested before, did not commit the crime in a sophisticated manner and showed remorse.

''She is sorry to the casino as she loved her job and would have liked to work there forever,'' he wrote.

Butin wrote that Velez gave a lengthy statement to Seminole police.

''The gist of her statement is how much she wanted to be loved, liked and thought of as a good employee,'' he wrote. ``Also, she is naive as to the desire to please others, basically strangers [customers].''

Velez, who had boxed at the casino in Coconut Creek, was the first Puerto Rican woman to win a world boxing title. Known as ''Ace,'' she retired from boxing in 2004 but returned to the ring in 2007.

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“Ex-Casino Worker Gets 21 months for Theft” Miami Herald, February 15, 2008

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