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.

Ex-casino worker eludes jail time for rigging contests

An ex-manager at Empire City Casino will serve no jail time for rigging promotional cash giveaways for kickbacks at the racetrack casino.

Donna Cronin had agreed on March 2 to serve six months in jail as part of a five-year “shock” probation sentence. But a judge this morning sentneced her to serve 250 hours of community service during her five-year probation and repay the $100,000 she stole. She also must undergo random drug testing and, if ordered by probation, psychological counseling.

“Go out of here and see what you can do to get a job,” acting state Supreme Court Justice Richard Moles told Cronin, who is unemployed.

Molea said he was swayed by numerous “sincere and compelling” letters from Cronin’s friends and family urging him to not send her to jail. The letters, he said, told of a childhood so chaotic that the judge credited her and her sisters for surviving it.

Cronin, who now lives in Staten Island, apologized to the judge for her actions and was hugged by family members and friends after the sentencing. Two of her supporters wept with relief when they learned she would not be going to jail.

Cronin, a former Yonkers resident, was the casino’s promotions manager and was accused of orchestrating the scam from Dec. 21, 2006, through Aug. 19, 2008. She was arrested with former promotions coordinators Alicia Murray of the Bronx and Terence Osborne of Yonkers. All three entered guilty pleas.

Cronin pleaded to felony charges of second- and fourth-degree grand larceny and scheme to defraud. The top charge against her involved some 75 incidents of larceny, prosecutors said.

Murray, 32, is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 28. She agreed to serve five years of probation, with eight weekends in the county jail, for stealing $30,688. Osborne, 25, is serving five years’ probation and was ordered to repay $16,049.

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, electronic equipment, hotel stays and Broadway tickets. On many of these occasions, the workers got kickbacks — mostly in cash, it was alleged. Players not in on the scheme had no chance of winning the prizes, prosecutors said.

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, Lottery director Gordon Medenica said. A consulting firm for the gambling industry monitored Empire City’s major promotional drawings starting Jan. 1, 2009, and reported its findings to state Lottery officials. Medenica said Empire City implemented every recommendation made by the consulting firm.