MIAMI, FL – On February 4, 2020, Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Division, and Roland D. Pandolfi, Chief of Police, Miccosukee Police Department, announced the convictions of all eight (8) defendants in United States v. Michel Aleu, et al. Case No. 19-20435-Cr-Gayles.
Four of the defendants, Michel Aleu, Lester Lavin, Yohander Jorrin Melhen, and Leonardo Betancourt, all former employees and licensees of Miccosukee Gaming, pled guilty and were convicted of conspiracy to steal funds in excess of $1,000 from Miccosukee Gaming, conspiracy to commit computer fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. Their respective spouses, defendants Maria Del Pilar Aleu, Anisleydi Vergel Hermida, and Milagros Marile Acosta Torres, pled guilty and stand convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering offenses. Yohander Jorrin Melhen and Milagros Acosta Torres were the last defendants to plead guilty, when they appeared in Court on Friday, January 31, 2020.
As stated in court documents, from January 2011 to May 2015, Michel Aleu, Lavin, Jorrin Melhen, Betancourt, and other co-conspirators, who were employed in the video game department at the Miccosukee Casino, tampered with the computers in electronic gaming machines, causing those machines to generate false and fraudulent credit vouchers or tickets. They then enlisted other conspirators to exchange the vouchers for cash at ATMs located on the casino floor, at floor cashiers, or the casino treasury. Casino records disclose that the defendants and their co-conspirators stole approximately $5.3 million in cash from Miccosukee Gaming. The defendants used the stolen funds to purchase and maintain residences and investment properties, to purchase vehicles, vessels, and Florida Prepaid College Plans for certain of their children, and to pay for travel and household expenses.
The defendants are now awaiting sentencing before United States District Judge Darrin P. Gayles. Each defendant faces a maximum term of 20 years’ imprisonment for money laundering conspiracy. Michel Aleu, Lavin, Jorrin Melhen, and Betancourt face maximum terms of five years on their convictions for conspiracy to steal from Miccosukee Gaming and conspiracy to commit computer fraud.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo-Orshan commended the investigative efforts of FBI and Miccosukee Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dwayne Williams and Asset Forfeiture Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Grosnoff.