I always enjoy a good “stupid criminal” story as long as nobody got hurt. Now, in this case, I do feel bad because the victim, while not harmed physically, was certainly harmed financially, but solely from an entertainment perspective, this is just a face-palmer. Recently, an Arizona woman was arrested for allegedly stealing about $1 million in cash and valuables from poker pro Antonio Esfandiari. Unfortunately for the suspect, she made absolutely no effort to hide that she was the one who did it (allegedly, right?).
As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Esfandiari and his father, Bejan, reported a number of things missing from their Panorama Towers condo on July 14. Included in the inventory was $150,000 cash, $300,000 to $500,000 in casino chips, jewelry, watches, a gold suitcase (what), and his 2012 World Series of Poker Big One for One Drop bracelet.
Esfandiari told PokerNews that the loss of the bracelet, representing the highlight of career and a tournament in which he won $18.3 million, was a “dagger to the heart.”
“But worse than all that was knowing that somebody stole from my dad,” he added. “He’s the most special human on Earth and it killed me that someone would do something so selfish to him. That was the real pain. The universe has a funny way with karma and what goes around always finds a way to come around.”
The first big clue that 46-year-old Svitlana Silva may have committed the robbery was that she had lived with Bejan “off and on for several months” and used his iPhone and iPad, which had similar security codes to that of his bedroom door and safe.
Esfandiari clued police into a rumor he heard that Silva, who, according to her LinkedIn profile, works as a poker dealer in Arizona, had been in Las Vegas to play in a private poker game. The host of the game kept a ledger of players and their buy-ins.
Silva bought-in for $5,000, signing her name in the record. After she busted, she ponied up another $20,000. She lost twice more, each time buying-in for another $30,000. So right there is a huge red flag. I don’t know anything about Silva’s finances, but it would hard to believe a poker dealer would be able to shell out that much money in one night.
After running out of cash, police say that someone drove her to a Las Vegas apartment, from where she got a safe. She then went back to the poker game and bought back in with $100,000 worth of ARIA chips. Silva lost again and used $200,000 in Bellagio chips to keep playing. She finally won some money, cashed out, and left. Not suspicious at all.
Before Silva left the game, another player cashed out and was given some of the cash and casino chips she brought to the game. She then actually sent the guy a text telling him that the chips are marked and will be flagged by a casino’s computer to prevent someone else from cashing them out. She offered to buy back her ARIA chips.
When Silva was arrested in the ARIA parking garage, police found multiple $25,000 Bellagio and ARIA chips and “large amounts” of cash on her. She later tried to tell authorities that she “walked in on a random guy” in Esfandiari’s condo and later saw him in the elevator with the stolen items, but for whatever reason failed to mention any of that earlier. Sure.
A Bellagio manager also told police that around August 11, he saw Silva gambling there with lots of cash.
Photo credit: WPT.com/Flickr