Ex-Palms race, sports book supervisor gets prison time in betting scheme

A former Palms race and sports book supervisor was sentenced to 366 days in federal prison Monday in a betting scheme that authorities say cost the resort $800,000.

Michael Albanese, 41, also was ordered to share with other defendants in the payment of $232,231 in restitution and was placed on three years of supervised relief after prison.

U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey gave Albanese until Sept. 22 to surrender to federal prison authorities.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Griswold sought a 21-month term behind bars for Albanese, but his defense lawyer Robert Langford asked Dorsey for probation.

“If you take away what happened here, he is a good person,” Langford said.

Albanese apologized for his actions and acknowledged that he should not have gotten involved in the scheme.

“I know what I did was wrong,” he said. “I wish I could change it, but I can’t.”

He choked up when he explained to Dorsey how he and his wife care for his 11-year-old daughter, who has Rett syndrome, a rare debilitating brain disorder.

Albanese pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Earlier this year, former Palms ticket writer Kassie Baker avoided a federal prison term in the scheme when Dorsey sentenced her to three years of probation and ordered her to also share in the $232,231 in restitution.

Albanese, Baker, former supervisor Matthew Kidle and bettor Charles Pecchio all were indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2012 in a conspiracy to rig wagers on horse races at the Palms between 2006 and 2007. Kidle and Pecchio have pleaded guilty and are waiting to be sentenced.

The Palms investigation, conducted by federal homeland security and state gaming agents, was an offshoot of an investigation into a massive illegal gambling operation run by two brothers, Michael and Jeffrey Jelinsky.

The brothers, who were accused of accepting millions of dollars in illegal bets coast to coast, pleaded guilty in 2009 and served federal prison time. The Palms cooperated in both investigations.

All three former Palms employees were accused of using their positions to accept invalid quinella wagers on horse races from the Jelinskys, Pecchio and others. Winning bets were paid out, and losing bets were refunded.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter: @JGermanRJ.