Richard Gardner sentenced to serve 8 years in state prison for stealing casino rewards cards

 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that a person previously convicted of child molestation was sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve eight years at the Adult Correctional institutions (ACI) after pleading to multiple counts of computer-related theft, stemming from stealing player rewards cards at Bally’s Twin River Casino. The Rhode Island State Police’s (RISP) Gaming Enforcement Unit investigated the case.

 

At a hearing on March 28, 2024, before Superior Court Magistrate John F. McBurney III, Richard Gardner (age 57) entered a plea of nolo contendere to three counts of accessing a computer for fraudulent purposes, two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses, and one count of receiving stolen goods. At the hearing, Magistrate McBurney sentenced the defendant to 10 years at the ACI, with eight years to serve and the balance suspended with 10 years of probation. The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution to the victims, totaling $2,465.

 

“The defendant took a gamble when he committed these criminal acts and he lost, in a significant way,” said Attorney General Neronha. “I am glad the defendant has again been brought to justice for violating the law, which is something that he unfortunately is all too familiar with. I thank the Rhode Island State Police for their continued partnership and diligent investigation in this case and in so many others.”

 

Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that over the course of several months in 2022 and 2023, the defendant illegally accessed patrons’ player cards at Bally’s Twin River Casino, allowing the defendant to access their rewards, including free spins and other rewards with a monetary value of nearly $2,500.

 

In February 2023, the RISP Gaming Enforcement Unit initiated an investigation regarding fraudulent access of a Bally’s Casino Rewards account. Officials at Bally’s Twin River first discovered the fraudulent scheme when a patron (one of the victims) arrived at the casino to redeem one of the prizes they were awarded through the casino’s rewards program. Casino officials told her there were no prizes available as the account tied to the rewards instead opted to use the rewards as “free plays” at gaming terminals within the casino. A surveillance review tied the use of the card to an older male whose description matched the defendant. Rhode Island State Police troopers subsequently matched the casino surveillance footage of the fraudulent activity, as well as a motor vehicle the suspect parked at the casino, to the defendant. The RISP Gaming Enforcement Unit further linked previous visits to the casino by the defendant in December of 2022 and January of 2023 with similar fraudulent activity and two other victims. On February 16, 2023, troopers arrested the defendant, and he has since been held without bail.

 

In 1993, the defendant pleaded nolo contendere to first-degree child molestation, kidnapping, burglary, and several other felony offenses. He was sentenced to 50 years at the ACI, with 30 years to serve. That sentence was then modified in 2004 to 50 years, with 20 years to serve the balance suspended with probation. The defendant was released in 2018. In light of his new conviction and sentence, the Court continued the defendant’s probation in his previous case.

 

“The Rhode Island State Police Gaming Enforcement Unit does important work in enforcing criminal laws related to casino gaming activities, and I am pleased this defendant was brought to justice,” said Colonel Darnell S. Weaver. “I thank the troopers and detectives for their efficient and diligent work alongside the Attorney General’s Office on the investigation and successful prosecution of this defendant.”

 

Assistant Attorney General Eric Batista and Special Assistant Attorney General David Bonzagni of the Office of the Attorney General and Detective Seargeant Ernest Adams of the Rhode Island State Police led the investigation and prosecution of the case.

 

 

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