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Miami Beach couple going to prison for casino fraud scheme

A computer scheme involving Miccosukee Gaming employees bilked over $5 million from the casino, investigators say.
A computer scheme involving Miccosukee Gaming employees bilked over $5 million from the casino, investigators say. (WPLG)

MIAMI – A Miami Beach man who worked at Miccosukee Gaming is heading to federal prison for his role in a computer fraud scheme that he and coworkers used to steal more than $5 million from the casino.

Lester Lavin, 44, was sentenced to 4 years and three months, and his girlfriend Anisleydi Vergel Hermida, 31, got six months for helping him launder his cut of the money.

Investigators from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, the FBI’s Miami field office and the Miccosukee Police Department worked the case.

They say Lavin worked for Miccosukee Gaming from 2003 to 2015, first servicing electronic gaming machines and then getting promoted to a video supervisor position. In that new role, investigators say, Lavin conspired with his boss Michel Aleu and two video technicians, Yohander Jorrin Melhen and Leonardo Betancourt, among others to steal the money. 

They would tamper with the machines, causing them to generate tickets that falsely showed that they had won money. Other members of the scheme who were not casino employees would then exchange the vouchers for cash.

Investigators say that the conspiracy lasted from January 2011 through May 2015, netting about $5.3 million.

Lavin used some of his share to buy a condo in Miami Beach and Florida Prepaid College Plans for two of his children, authorities say.

He pleaded guilty to three counts in December, and Vergel Hermida pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in January. 

They were forced to forfeit the condo, another property and the college plans as part of the pleas.

Six other defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing later this month.


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