An Indiana man who allegedly manipulated a Joliet slot machine into paying him more than $760 could be part of a larger ring that's reportedly stolen nearly $1 million from Harrah's casinos in Illinois and Mississippi, a Will County prosecutor said Monday.
The Illinois State Police, working with the Illinois Gaming Board, arrested Lawrence Wayne Culp, 60, of Monticello, shortly after midnight Sunday after he allegedly collected illegal winnings from Harrah's Casino, 151 N. Chicago St., Joliet, Will County Assistant State's Attorney Dave Borenstein said.
Culp was charged with three felonies: computer fraud, computer tampering and cheating at a gambling game.
It's alleged that Culp was using a coded memory card that allowed him to trigger the machine to pay off without actually inserting money or playing the game, Borenstein said.
There is videotape of at least two other people doing the same thing in Mississippi, and it appears that someone within the Harrah's organization is providing inside information that allows people to manipulate machine payouts, Borenstein said.
However, Culp is the first person to be arrested in connection with the alleged fraud, which has cost the company nearly $1 million in losses over the last year, he said.
Gene O'Shea, spokesman for the Illinois Gaming Board, declined to discuss the case.
"Since a criminal matter is pending, there is no further information we can provide," O'Shea said in an email response to a request for more details on the arrest.
Culp told Will County Judge Roger Rickmon that he is self-employed, and earns about $2,500 a month. A check of records in Indiana show that Culp works as a property appraiser.
Bond was set at $50,000 -- meaning Culp would need to pay $5,000 to be released -- but Culp said he would not be able to raise that amount. The judge refused to set it lower because, he said, "I'm concerned about you not coming back to the state of Illinois (for future court appearances)."
As of Monday night, Culp remained at the Will County jail.
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