8 people accused of embezzlement, laundering money from Miccosukee Casino

Defendants include 4 employees of casino, prosecutors say

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - Eight people were federally indicted Wednesday for the embezzlement and laundering of funds from the Miccosukee Casino, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Ariana Fajardo Orshan announced in a news release.

Michel Aleu, 41, Lester Lavin, 43, Yohander Jorrin Melhen, 42, Leonard Betancourt, 46, Maria Del Pilar Aleu, 39, Anisleydi Vergel Hermida, 30, Milagros Marile Acosta Torres, 33, and Yusmary Shirley Duran, 40 -- who are all from Miami-Dade County -- are charged with computer fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and making false statements to law enforcement relating to a fraud scheme involving electronic gaming machines at the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming.

According to the news release, the scheme began on or around Jan. 29, 2011, and continued through about May 27, 2015.

Prosecutors said Aleu, Lavin, Melhen and Betancourt worked at the casino and embezzled more than $5 million in cash from the business.

"Aleu, Lavin, Melhen, Betancourt and their unindicted co-conspirators tampered with the electronic gaming machines and caused the machines to generate false and fraudulent credit vouchers or tickets, which the defendants then exchanged for cash at ATMs located on the casino floor, or from floor cashiers or the casino treasury," the news release stated.

Prosecutors said all eight defendants committed money laundering crimes involving the proceeds the four employees embezzled from the casino by using the stolen money to purchase homes, cars, various investment properties and even Florida Prepaid College Plan accounts for some of the defendants' children.

The indictment seeks the forfeiture of all assets allegedly obtained through the scheme.

The FBI and the Miccosukee Police Department were involved in the investigation into the scheme.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dwayne E. Williams.

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