March 25, 2016 - 3:37 pm
An alleged conman who promised he could beat casino pit games has been arrested, the Nevada attorney general’s office announced Friday.
Mark Thomas Georgantas, 53, who eluded authorities for more than three months, was picked up Wednesday at the Hard Rock casino on a $500,000 arrest warrant. He is due in court early next month.
Georgantas, aka Mark Gigantis, aka Mark G, aka Mr. Smooth, persuaded at least two people to hand him more than $350,000, according to an indictment.
He told his victims he knew how to beat baccarat, blackjack, craps and roulette in Las Vegas, according to the attorney general’s office and his own posts in online gambling forums.
“Based on the damage this has done to me personally and the severity of the consequences I am being very thorough in preparing a solid response upfront to the AG in advance of this case moving forward,” Georgantas wrote.
When Georgantas met with two victims, prosecutors said he name-dropped George Clooney and Matt Damon as clients. He said he had worked for the CIA.
He claimed he attended Princeton University, where he researched spectroscopy, the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation.
Most important, he always walked out of a casino with a profit.
But when the two men inquired about their investments, Georgantas vanished. The attorney general’s office filed theft and securities fraud charges.
“My office is committed to ensuring that Nevadans are protected from unscrupulous investment schemes,” Attorney General Adam Laxalt said in a news release. “I encourage Nevadans to be skeptical of investment offers that claim to guarantee profits, and to report any suspicious activity to my office.”
It’s not the first time Georgantas found legal trouble through business ventures. Convicted of a felony in California, the media reported that he once escaped jail through a storm drain.
He was arrested in 2006 in a business fraud case after being found with a briefcase full of stolen credit card information, according to online court records. Authorities said that he used a stolen credit card to make purchases for Fire On Ice Inc., a business he still lists on a LinkedIn profile.
Three years later, he walked away from a trial on credit card fraud charges. He was caught and served time in state prison, court records indicate.
After his release, he moved to Las Vegas and dyed his dark-brown hair blond.
“I have made several bad decisions in my life some of which cost financially some my freedom,” Georgantas wrote in the email. “But, mark my word, there is abolutely (sic), positively, ZERO intent to lie, cheat, deceive, or steal from anyone who seeks my assistance in ganing (sic).”
His lawyers could not be reached Friday.
In 2013, Marcelo Caraveo had just sold his house, and he was looking to invest the money. Through a friend, he met Georgantas, who pitched the documentary and promised lavish profits.
They each signed a contract, and Caraveo handed over about $300,000.
He never saw the money again, according to his grand jury testimony.
Evan Rodich met Georgantas at a craps table at the Quad, according to grand jury testimony.
Flanked by two men, Georgantas was “playing extravagantly, and he was attracting a lot of attention to himself,” Rodich said.
He asked what was going on.
“He told me that they took their craps very seriously and they always won at the casinos,” Rodich testified. “When he told me about his flaw-proof system of gambling, I wanted to get in on it.”
Eventually, they drew up a contract.
A section in bold type read: “No matter what losses are generated the investor will receive all of his money back.”
Contact David Ferrara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker