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Not guilty pleas entered in $190 million fraud case

High-rolling Las Vegas businessman Ramon DeSage and two co-defendants pleaded not guilty in federal court Wednesday to felony charges stemming from a massive fraud scheme.

DeSage, 63, was charged last week in a superseding federal indictment that added dozens of felony counts in what prosecutors say was a scheme to defraud investors of roughly $190 million.

Two of his employees — Southern California accountant Peter Akaragian, 61, and Las Vegas bookkeeper Gary Parkinson, 43 — were charged with helping him use his luxury gifts supply business to hide millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service.

DeSage, Akaragian and Parkinson all are facing one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. DeSage also is facing 51 other counts, including 19 counts of wire fraud, 28 counts of money laundering and four counts of tax evasion.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Koppe allowed DeSage to continue the terms of his pretrial release, which includes electronically monitored home detention. Akaragian and Partkinson were allowed to remain free on their own recognizance while they await trial.

The indictment is the second superseding one in six months against DeSage, a Lebanese-born entrepreneur with both business and gambling ties to Las Vegas casinos.

It again accuses DeSage of failing to report to the IRS more than $87 million in income from 2006 to 2009.

It also accuses him of using his main Las Vegas company, Cadeau Express, and other companies to defraud his investors between 2005 and 2012.

DeSage pocketed the money in the scheme to repay earlier investors, maintain his wealthy lifestyle and cover millions of dollars in gambling losses at casinos along the Strip, some of which he supplies with high-end customer goods, the indictment alleges.

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

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