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Ex-Manager Admits Bingo Scam on Reservation

Times Staff Writer

The former manager of bingo operations on a San Diego County Indian reservation pleaded guilty on Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court to four counts of felony grand theft for fixing bingo games.

Under a plea agreement made with the state attorney general’s office minutes before he was arraigned, Stewart Siegel of Las Vegas agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with authorities in their continuing investigation of bingo operations at the Barona Indian Reservation in Lakeside.

Siegel had been indicted by a San Diego County grand jury on March 26 on six counts of felony grand theft in connection with $139,000 in illegal winnings. The indictment was unsealed Wednesday and Siegel surrendered to authorities.

Prosecutors agreed to drop two theft counts when he is sentenced on July 2. Siegel was released Wednesday on his own recognizance.

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At his arraignment, Siegel acknowledged that he rigged the high-stakes bingo games by “arranging for a person working with me to win a cash prize drawing, rather than a lucky player selected randomly.”

The indictment said the accomplice then divided the money with Siegel, who was general manager of the bingo games from October, 1984, to September, 1985.

Siegel was an employee of American Amusement & Management Co. of Los Angeles, with whom the tribe had a contract to manage the games. He left the company after the tribe accused him of mismanaging profits from the games.

Deputy Atty. Gen. Gary Schons would not say what other aspects of the bingo operations were being probed, but he did indicate that some officials from the Barona tribe and American Amusement & Management Co. were under investigation.

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American Amusement & Management Co. officials in Los Angeles and tribal leaders in Lakeside declined to comment Wednesday.

The Barona tribe was one of the first in California to offer high-stakes unrestricted bingo, with some cash prizes totaling nearly $40,000.


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