Nothing to See Here: Cleveland Poker Dealer Has Cheating Case Dismissed

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Around Halloween last year, a Cleveland area man who worked as a dealer for the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland was charged with cheating when he was allegedly found with one of the cards he was using up the sleeve of his uniform. Apparently there was nothing to see here as county prosecutors in the case have now dismissed the charges against the man, ending a long and arduous five months of waiting for the gentleman.

A Cuyahoga County prosecutor dismissed the charges of gambling against 57-year old Robert Brown, who was indicted by a grand jury in October on one count of gambling that could have seen Brown receive some jail time – anywhere from six months to a year – but more than likely would have resulted in a sizeable fine. Regardless of that punishment, the bigger issue is that Brown would have probably lost his job working at the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland as the charge against him was a fifth-degree felony.

Brown’s attorney in the case, Jeff Shively, was able to show the prosecution during pretrial discussions that proceeding with the case into trial would not result in a conviction. Giving that the card had been found up Brown’s sleeve, Shively was able to point out that there wasn’t an accomplice at the table who was benefitting from the card being missing. In addition to this fact, Shively noted that Brown immediately informed his supervisors when the automatic shuffler at his table signaled that the deck was missing a card and even helped with the search for that very missing card.

“Poker players self-police,” Shively told Brian Pempus of in an interview. “(Magicians) Penn and Teller couldn’t have even cheated here, and you haven’t seen Penn and Teller with a Deckmate. Any regular poker player would know it’s absurd to think he was cheating.” When queried by Pempus about how the card ended up in the sleeve of Brown, Shively simply commented, “It was a rare occurrence, but it happens. Weird things happen in casinos.”

Depending on your viewpoint, the case is either a demonstration of how the truth eventually won out or about overaggressive actions from a regulatory authority and from a grand jury who weren’t well informed in the case or the workings of a casino. In September 2015, Brown was working his down at the Horseshoe when, as previously stated, he notified his floor manager that a deck was short at his table. The players were checked and, when they were clean, the action moved towards the equipment.

Brown assisted in breaking down the table and removing the shuffler from the table without the card being found but, as he reached to the floor to retrieve a piece of trash, the very card – a King of clubs – fell out of his shirt sleeve. The gaming official from the Ohio Casino Control Commission that had been called for investigation immediately accused him of cheating, saying that at the minimum Brown was “practicing” how to cheat for an upcoming tournament.

In an interview he gave at that time, Brown said he was surprised by the charges. “The guy’s (agent) trying to say I did it on purpose,” Brown stated to a local reporter after he had been suspended from his job for the incident. After being asked if the agent offered a motive for taking the card from the table, Brown said no while including that the entire case against him was “just a joke.”

Now comes probably the most difficult part for Brown. After being under suspension for the past five months, he has returned to work at the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland. Now, however, he must present a case for regaining his back pay that was withheld (and it would be extremely difficult to figure what he might have received in tips from his downs in the box). Overall, the case is one that probably should have stayed in the hands of the casino rather than reaching into the inner sanctum of the courtroom.

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