Oops, wrong guy: Casino's fine rescinded in case of mistaken identity - Saturday 12th of March 2005

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- It was a simple case of mistaken identity, and it nearly cost a casino $25,000.

New Jersey casino regulators, who had fined the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa for letting a banned gambler stay overnight, rescinded the penalty Wednesday, admitting that it was the son of reputed mobster Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso, not Casso himself, who checked in and played table games at the casino one night in 2003.

It couldn't have been Casso, regulators learned after imposing the fine two months ago: He's doing life in a federal prison.

"We all make mistakes," said Casino Control Commission member Michael Fedorko.

The incident stemmed from Casso's status on the commission's "exclusion list," a blacklist of 171 people deemed to be bad influences on Atlantic City casinos and banned from entering them.

Casso, 64, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was a suspected street boss in the Lucchese family organization who was added to the list in 1990. He was captured in 1993 and pleaded guilty to murder and racketeering charges in 1994 after turning government witness and is currently serving a life sentence at the Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colo.

On Nov. 22, 2003, Casso's son, also named Anthony Casso, called ahead and got a $349-a-night room at the casino. It was "comped," or paid for by the casino, where he spent three hours playing table games.

Eventually, Borgata employees performing a routine check of its computer system found two entries for "Anthony Casso," both with the same address; one had Casso's date of birth and other personal information, the other reflected the casino activity on Nov. 22, 2003.

The two accounts were merged into one by someone at Borgata, and the casino _ believing it had allowed the blacklisted Anthony Casso to gamble _ reported the violation to the state, according to Deputy Attorney General Charles F. Kimmel, a lawyer representing the Division of Gaming Enforcement.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement negotiated a settlement with Borgata officials and recommended the $25,000 penalty to the Casino Control Commission, which approved it Jan. 19.

But someone at the Division of Gaming Enforcement who was familiar with Casso's background questioned whether it was the same Casso.

That led regulators to uncover the error and recommend rescinding the fine, which was never paid to begin with.

"The system worked," said Larry Mullin, executive vice president of the Borgata.

The younger Casso could not be reached for comment Wednesday on the mistake. His telephone number is unlisted.

The elder Casso, who once testified before Congress while sitting behind a screen to shield him from news cameras, made news last week with the arrest of retired New York Police Department detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa.

Prosecutors say the two moonlighted as hit men who kidnapped, killed and engineered the murders of at least eight rivals at Casso's behest.

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