Woman pleads guilty in betting scheme

Another 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.

Kassie Baker, 30, entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She is to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Miranda Du on June 24.

Baker, free on her own recognizance, was indicted by a federal grand jury in July with two other former sports book employees, manager Michael Albanese and Matthew Kidle, an administrator.

Kidle, 30, pleaded guilty last month to the conspiracy charge and is to be sentenced July 22.

Palms bettor Charles Pecchio also was charged in the scheme, which occurred between July 2006 and July 2007, and is considering a plea deal. Albanese is to stand trial on April 9.

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

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, and losing bets were refunded.

Baker, who has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors, admitted in court Monday to being part of the scheme.

In a quinella wager, according to the indictment, the bettor picks the first- and second-place winners without specifying their order. If the two horses finish first and second, the bettor wins. Variations 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 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 or 702-380-8135.

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