Christian Lusardi’s reputation, along with the fake chips he used at the Borgata Winter Poker Open in January of 2014, has officially been flushed down the toilet.
The 43-year-old Fayetteville, North Carolina, native pled guilty this week in Atlantic City on charges of trademark counterfeiting and criminal mischief.
As part of the plea agreement, Lusardi will pay the Borgata $463,540 in lost revenue from the canceling of the tournament, plus an additional $9,455 to Harrah’s in damages for clogging the pipes in his hotel room bathroom, which caused water leaks to rooms below.
Finally, the busted flush will also likely send Lusardi to jail for five years.
“Lusardi’s counterfeiting scheme sabotaged a major professional poker tournament at the Borgata, not to mention the plumbing at Harrah’s Casino Hotel,” John Hoffman, the acting attorney general for New Jersey noted.
Pipe Dream Ruptured
Lusardi said he purchased the counterfeit chips from a Chinese company and placed fake stickers on them to resemble $5,000 and $25,000 Borgata poker chips.
After apparently getting cold feet and cashing out of the $560 buy-in tournament for a win of $6,814, Lusardi flushed nine $25,000 chips and 494 $5,000 chips down his Harrah’s bathroom toilet.
In all, $3.6 million worth of phony tournament chips were discovered, with an audit determining that 160 $5,000 chips were used in the first two days of competition.
Elie Honig, director of New Jersey’s Division of Criminal Justice said, “Lusardi clearly feared that his scheme would be exposed.”
“When you gamble on a flush in high-stakes poker, you either win big or lose big,” Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police said. “Lusardi lost big when his alleged scheme was foiled by a leaking sewer pipe.”
Borgata officials were forced to cancel the tournament after finding the rogue chips, eventually refunding all 2,143 players who didn’t cash with their $560 buy-in, and awarding the remaining 27 players $19,323.
The thing about Atlantic City is that, as its name implies, it sits directly next to the Atlantic Ocean.
Why Lusardi opted to go back to his Harrah’s hotel room to dispose of the fake chips down his four-gallon flush toilet instead of the 41 million-square-mile body of water has left many perplexed.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and questioning the tactics of an apprehended criminal is usually a baffling exercise.
It isn’t the first time Lusardi came up with a brazen plan of counterfeiting.
In February of 2014, it was revealed that the Department of Homeland Security was tracking shipments he allegedly sent from China to a series of postal boxes and residential addresses in North Carolina.
What was he shipping back from China? According to Bryan Moultis, a special agent with the department, Lusardi sent nearly 38,000 pirated DVDs to himself, an operation he reportedly profited over $1 million.
Following his guilty admission in that copyright infringement, Lusardi agreed to pay $1.1 million in restitution. It’s been a rough couple of years for the criminal, but then again, the old adage is true: “Crime doesn’t pay.”