Last defendant sentenced in Empire City casino rigging case

A Bronx woman will serve 12 weekends in jail for her role in a scheme to rig promotional cash giveaways at Empire City Casino when she was a manager there.

Former promotions coordinator Alicia Murray was given the jail term as part of a five-year “shock” probation sentence today.

Murray was arrested last year with two other employees on charges they received kickbacks by rigging games at the Yonkers racetrack and casino. She was accused of stealing $30,688.

Murray pleaded guilty in March to four counts each of third- and fourth-degree grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud. All the charges are felonies. She will serve weekends in jail, starting this Friday, until Dec. 19.

At the sentencing, acting state Supreme Court Justice Richard Molea questioned why a college-educated woman such as Murray would commit such an act and criticized her for not repaying more of what she had stolen.

She already repaid $2,400 and  was supposed to turn over another $2,500 today, but came to court with an $800 check. Molea told her that if she didn’t come up with the other $1,700 by Wednesday, she would violate her probation and be re-sentenced.

“I’m really not happy with the way this is proceeding,” he said.

Murray, a 33-year-old single mother, apologized for her actions and said she looked forward to putting the situation behind her. She will pay $489 a month for the next five years as restitution.

She is the only defendant in the case to receive any jail time.

Her boss, Donna Cronin, was sentenced to 250 hours of community service and ordered to find work so she could repay the $100,000 she stole. Molea  said he was swayed by “sincere and compelling” letters written on Cronin’s behalf urging him to keep her out of jail. Cronin had agreed to serve six months in jail as part of a five-year “shock” probation sentence.

Cronin had paid $17,000 in restitution by the time she was sentenced.

The third defendant, Terence Osborne of Yonkers , 25, is serving five years’ probation and has repaid the $16,049 he stole.

According to prosecutors, the three ran a scam to let friends and relatives win promotional contests from December 2006 through August 2008.

They told the selected “winners” to be at certain slot machines in the casino while the drawings were held. They would then rig the contests so the chosen few would win cash, electronics, hotel stays and Broadway tickets. On many of these occasions, the workers got kickbacks — mostly in cash, it was alleged.

The rigged contests never compromised the casino’s video slot machines, authorities said.

After the investigation began, the New York Lottery ordered Empire City to bring in a consultant to review internal controls and management practices.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.