Trial of 8 Accused of Rigging Slot Machines Is Given to Jury

Associated Press

After seven weeks of seeing the underside of the gaming world, a jury began deciding Friday whether eight people operated a ring that rigged jackpots in Nevada and New Jersey.

The 12-member jury received the case from U.S. District Judge Edward Reed, after attorneys for both sides finished closing arguments.

The defense criticized the testimony of criminals turned state's evidence and attacked the evidence against the defendants as flimsy.

Defense attorney John Conner asked jurors for "a verdict consistent with facts that were proven, not with the facts that were swatted at.

"Some facts just can't be found," he said.

Defense attorney William O'Mara told jurors to "believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear."

In addition to many "collectors" who testified that they were recruited to "win" rigged jackpots, the witnesses included former slot "mechanic" Ross Durham, who claimed to have rigged hundreds of jackpots and testified for the government in return for a reduced prison term.

However, Assistant U.S. Atty. Don Hill, prosecutor in the case, noted in closing arguments that videotapes, tax records and other documents also were introduced as evidence.

The evidence also included five slot machines, which still stand in a corner of the courtroom.

The defendants were originally charged with rigging $3.25 million in jackpots, but charges surrounding a $1.7-million pay-out were dropped when the trial began almost two months ago.

"We get used to throwing around numbers," Hill said. "We forget we're talking about money. We're talking about a lot of money here, money taken out of the state of Nevada."

The defendants include William Cushing, Dorothy Snider, Norman Alvis and Michael Brennan, all of Sacramento; John Vaccaro, Sandra Vaccaro and Stephen LaBarbera, all of Las Vegas, and Paul Bond of Reno.

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