Man charged in $700,000 theft from Hartford Four Winds Casino

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday night that 43-year-old Jesus Gaytan-Garcia of Mexico has been charged with theft from the Four Winds Casino in Hartford.

Authorities say that on July 30, 2023, a call came into the Hartford Four Winds Casino with the caller falsely claiming that he was the tribal chairperson and needed funds to make an urgent payment.

While still on the phone, the cell phone assigned to the cage at the Hartford casino started getting texts from a person claiming to be the Hartford casino cage director, who was out of town.

The texter told the employee that he needed her help to make an urgent payment within the next 20 minutes and urged her to follow the instructions of the caller. The texter said the employee needed to be discreet in handling the money.

"A casino supervisory employee, apparently duped by the caller’s fraudulent claims, gathered up $700,000 in cash and walked out of the casino," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Authorities say the call came from a Mexican telephone number with a Cancun area code.

The employee transported the cash to a gas station in Gary, Ind., as the caller instructed, where the employee then handed the cash over to two unknown individuals.

“The amount of money involved in this theft is extraordinary,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “Unfortunately, instances of telephone scams at casinos are on the rise across the country, impacting both tribal and commercial gaming operations. Thanks to the dedicated, joint investigation of Pokagon Tribal Police and the FBI, we were able to identify and arrest one of the perpetrators of this scheme that targeted the Hartford Four Winds Casino.”

After a months-long investigation by the FBI and Pokagon Tribal Police, authorities were able to identify Gaytan-Garcia as one of the people the casino employee met at the gas station and handed over the money to.

“The arrest of Mr. Gaytan-Garcia demonstrates the effectiveness of collaboration between the Pokagon Tribal Police and the FBI,” said Pokagon Tribal Police Chief Mario RedLegs. “We greatly appreciate the support and assistance of U.S. Attorney Mark Totten and his staff to prosecute those that violate the law on Pokagon Band land.”

While searching Gaytan-Garcia’s home, investigators found a stack of cash still wrapped in a paper band stamped with the word “Hartford” and the exact date of the theft.

Authorities say Gaytan-Garcia has no legal authorization to be in the United States.

"The FBI, along with the Pokagon Band Tribal Police, successfully tracked down and identified a culprit involved in the fraudulent scheme against the Hartford Four Winds Casino. We take these crimes very seriously as they significantly impact the community's sense of trust,” said Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “The FBI is committed to investigating fraudulent activities and ensuring justice for all victims. We stand ready with our partners to take strong action against those who engage in such illegal activities and believe they can get away with it.”

Authorities say the charge in a criminal complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law. 

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