Former Palms employee pleads guilty to fraud

A former Palms race and sports book employee pleaded guilty Monday in a betting scheme federal authorities say defrauded the resort of more than $800,000.

Matthew Kidle, who served as an administrator at the sports book, was indicted by a federal grand jury in July with two other former employees, manager Michael Albanese and ticket writer Kassie Baker.

Palms bettor Charles Pecchio also was charged in the scheme, which occurred between July 2006 and July 2007.

The former employees were accused of using their positions to accept invalid quinella wagers on horse races from Pecchio and others. Winning bets were paid out to the bettors alleged to have participated in the scheme, and losing bets were refunded.

Kidle, 30, who is free on his own recognizance, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du set a July 22 sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Vasquez said Kidle agreed to cooperate with federal authorities in the case.

In his online resume, Kidle said he worked at the sports book from April 2006 to October 2007. He said he was responsible for opening and closing the operation, balancing the daily cash drawers and posting sporting events and horse races.

The Palms, which since has brought in Cantor Gaming to run its race and sports book, cooperated in the investigation.

In court Monday, Kidle admitted that he allowed the invalid quinella wagers.

He also admitted communicating with Pecchio and knowing he was defrauding his employer at the time.

Afterward, Kidle and his lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Brenda Weksler, declined comment.

Baker also has agreed to plea guilty in the case and is set to appear before Du in March.

Albanese and Pecchio, who are free on their own recognizance, are to stand trial April 9.

In a quinella wager, according to the indictment, the bettor picks the first- and second-place winners without specifying their order. If the two selected horses finish first and second, the bettor wins. Variations of the quinella allow the bettor to pick a combination of three horses to finish first and second.

The odds of winning a quinella bet increase if horses withdraw or are scratched from a race, the indictment said. The Palms had a policy of forbidding quinella wagers on races with fewer than six horses. Bets placed on races that ended up with fewer than six horses were to be canceled and refunded.

But according to the indictment, the former Palms sports book employees conspired to accept quinella bets from Pecchio and others in races with fewer than six horses.

If the bettors picked a winning combination from a diminished field, the defendants paid the winnings with casino funds, the indictment alleged. If the bettors lost, they would get a refund.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

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