Printed on: November 21, 2012

Man sentenced for casino theft


POCATELLO -- John R. Mejia, 32, of Rigby, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court for theft of funds from the Fort Hall casino, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced in a news release.

Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill sentenced Mejia to 12 months plus one day in prison followed by three years of supervised release. The judge ordered him to pay restitution of $177,611. Mejia pleaded guilty to the charge Jan. 11.

According to court documents, Mejia was indicted in July 2011 on one count of theft from the Shoshone-Bannock Fort Hall Casino, where he was employed in 2010 as a gaming technician.

At the plea hearing, Mejia admitted taking money from the casino by creating duplicate vouchers from gaming machines and redeeming the vouchers for money.

In sentencing Mejia, Winmill said the crime was not just a crime against the casino, but a crime committed against a nation of 5,000 people.

"Mr. Mejia's theft of tribal funds demonstrates a disregard of the authority and trust placed in him by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Gaming Commission," Olson said in the news release. "By putting his personal desires first and choosing to commit this crime, Mejia also abused the public's trust. I commend the cooperative work of Fort Hall Tribal Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

The case was investigated by the Fort Hall Police Department and the FBI.