DA seeks to jail professional gambler Robin Hood 702 over tweets
Vigilante high-roller calls out Wolfson for warped sense of justice
Gambler R.J. Cipriani, known as Robin Hood 702 (Photo courtesy R.J. Cipriani)
R.J. Cipriani, a professional gambler known for sharing his winnings with the less fortunate and sharing intel with the FBI, is questioning Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson’s application of justice. He questions whether the DA, who wants him in jail, is doing the bidding of Resorts World executives who don’t want the brand of attention Cipriani is attracting to the hotel.
“Jason Derulo beat up two guys because they called him the wrong name,” Cipriani said during an interview, referring to an incident Jan. 4 involving the entertainer. “Joe Lombardo and Steve Wolfson didn’t have him arrested and charged. But I’m trying to help crime victims and I get arrested.”
Wolfson, who campaigned for Marsy’s Law, a victims’ rights measure in 2018, did not respond to requests for comment.
A self-promoter who calls himself Robin Hood 702, (702 is the Las Vegas area code) Cipriani faces a bail revocation hearing later this month over tweets he posted criticizing Resorts World president Scott Sibella and other executives, including General Counsel and Senior Vice-President of Government Affairs Gerald Gardner, who previously served as Gov. Brian Sandoval’s chief of staff.
Cipriani contends Sibella has an obligation to stop two gamblers, both convicted of money fraud, from further squandering at the gambling tables funds that Cipriani says should be restitution.
The high-roller was arrested Nov. 19 at Resorts World and charged with one count of larceny after he took a cell phone from one of the gamblers, Robert Alexander, who Cipriani alleges stalked and took video of him, a prohibited practice in casinos, for seven weeks.
The two are not strangers.
Alexander, a co-creator of the popular video game Grand Theft Auto, bilked investors by “soliciting investments in his online gaming company,” according to federal court documents and a news release from the U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York, and spent $1.3 million of the investor money on personal expenses, including “to fund his gambling excursions to multiple casinos.”
Las Vegas attorney David Chesnoff, once former Mayor Oscar Goodman’s law partner, and Chesnoff’s current law partner Richard Schonfeld, were shareholders in Kizzang, the company Alexander used to defraud investors. Chesnoff offered to help Alexander solicit new investors, including casinos executive and gambler Bobby Baldwin, according to documents Cipriani says Alexander turned over to him when he was seeking help finding an attorney. That attorney, Peter Gleason, declined to comment.
Chesnoff and Schonfeld were not charged with any wrongdoing. They did not respond to questions about their business interest in Kizzang, or Chesnoff’s role in recruiting investors.
“Chesnoff and Schonfeld represented Mr. Alexander for a few months beginning in August of 2016,” says a statement from Alexander’s attorney Lisa M. Szyc to the Current. “During this brief representation Chesnoff and Schonfeld were not compensated for any work performed, nor did their representation have anything to do with Mr. Alexander’s current criminal matter pending in the Southern District of New York.”
Cipriani claims he learned Alexander was defrauding investors and helped the FBI get the goods on him. The government secured a guilty plea on one count of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud.
Alexander has yet to be sentenced. He faces up to 40 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5.25 million.
When Alexander turned up at Resorts World on Oct. 1, Cipriani says he reached out to the FBI special agent Joseph Strawman.
Strawman declined to comment on Cipriani’s involvement or discuss the case.
“Alexander’s hanging in casinos. And he’s gambling with money that he should be using to pay his victims back,” Cipriani says he told the FBI agent.
A few weeks later, Nevada Gaming authorities requested Alexander’s gambling history from Resorts World, “in support of an active law enforcement investigation,” according to an email obtained by the Current.
Like banks, casinos are required to know where high-rollers are getting their money.
In 2014, then-director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the United States Department of the Treasury, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, stated during a speech in Las Vegas that “casinos are required to be aware of a customer’s source of funds under current AML (anti-money laundering) requirements.”
Cipriani says Alexander stalked him at Resorts World from Oct. 1 on and off until mid-November, navigating his scooter within inches of Cipriani at blackjack tables and taking video.
Cipriani says he repeatedly informed security and surveillance executives of Alexander’s alleged harassment and illegal recording.
On Nov. 19, Alexander again rode his scooter within inches of Cipriani while he gambled, according to video obtained by Cipriani from Resorts World.
“I grabbed his phone and ran to the Casino Cage to show the proof that he was taking video of me, but they wouldn’t take the phone,” Cipriani says. “I ran to a supervisor, I looked for a security guard.”
Eventually, he says he found a security guard who took possession of the phone.
Cipriani says he and his wife later ran into Chesnoff and told him about the scuffle with Alexander.
“Chesnoff said not to worry about Alexander and that if I ever got in trouble, he’d represent me pro bono,” Cipriani says. “As we walked away, I wondered why he would say such a thing.”
Within moments, Cipriani was detained by law enforcement. Cipriani says his wife ran to tell Chesnoff that her husband needed his help.
She says he declined, noting he’s a vendor of the hotel and it would be a conflict.
Cipriani was trespassed from the hotel, arrested, and charged with larceny. He spent the night in jail before being released on bail.
“Chesnoff was at my first hearing. I don’t know why,” he said.
“I have too much respect for the judicial process to comment on two pending felony cases,” Chesnoff said when asked whether he knew Cipriani was going to be arrested, whether he discussed the case with the District Attorney, and why he was in court for Cipriani’s initial appearance.
The District Attorney alleges Cipriani grabbed Alexander’s phone and ran away with it in an effort to delete information.
“Why would I want to delete my evidence?” Cipriani asks incredulously.
Video and still photos subpoenaed by Cipriani from Resorts World appear to back up his version of events.
“With regard to Scott Sibella, defendant has now undertaken a campaign to smear this person, for the sole purpose of getting the casino/hotel to lift their trespass order, and presumably, to influence his criminal case,” the District Attorney wrote in the motion to place conditions on Cipriani’s bail.
An order issued on Dec 22 that prohibits Cipriani from posting, emailing or otherwise contacting “potential witnesses, third party vendors, or otherwise interested parties in this criminal case….”
Cipriani, who says he was unaware the social media ban was a condition of bail, aired his grievances on Twitter, blasting Sibella, Gardner, Alexander, and another high-roller, Brandon Sattler.
Last week, creditors who are owed $11 million from Sattler, a high roller who did audio visual work for Resorts World, subpoenaed Sibella to be deposed in non-dischargeable bankruptcy fraud proceedings against Sattler. The subpoena asks Sibella to supply information regarding his personal financial interests and holdings.
In September, according to an internal Resorts World memo obtained by the Current, an executive wrote to the surveillance department that Sattler “is currently being investigated by a government agency,” adding “any photos of him on property would be highly appreciated.”
Sattler, reached by phone, blamed Cipriani for the attention he’s getting from law enforcement and bankruptcy creditors.
“Just look at RJ’s Twitter feed. He goes on a rant about Scott Sibella. And then he says a bunch of crazy stuff. All I can think of is the lawyers in my bankruptcy case saw RJ’s rant about Scott Sibella and me and decided to subpoena Scott,” he said.
“Since the time of the defendant’s release, Defendant has engaged in harassing, intimidating, threatening, and potentially criminal conduct toward potential witnesses, third party vendors, and other interested parties in this criminal case…” chief deputy District Attorney Bernie Zadrowski wrote in his motion to revoke Cipriani’s bail for his posts on Twitter. “One can only conclude that such conduct is designed to harass and intimidate the victim.”
Cipriani contends he endured intimidation by Alexander for a month and a half, while Resorts World security did nothing. Zadrowski declined to comment.
On Dec. 21, the day before Cipriani was to appear in court on the larceny charge, the District Attorney filed a criminal complaint against Cipriani, alleging that before his arrest on Nov. 19, he attempted to change his bet while playing blackjack, a Category C felony.
Cipriani admits it. He says he mistakenly bet $500 on a $1000 minimum game, and attempted to increase his bet when the dealer pointed out his mistake. He said he gained nothing and the casino lost nothing.
Casino executives interviewed by the Current who asked not to be identified say bets that fail to satisfy the minimum amount are routinely made by mistake, and are the responsibility of the dealer and floor supervisor to catch before the hand or game is played out.
Cipriani believes Resort World executives directed the DA to “trump up charges so they could take me back into custody at my court appearance.”
He says he’s thankful he didn’t go.
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