Trying to rip off a casino is one of the worst ideas a thief can undertake, but that hasn’t stopped Shaun Benward, a 35-year-old Mississippi resident who has continually tried his hand at deceiving casinos in Pennsylvania. Why Pennsylvania remains as much a mystery as the man himself.
The Daily Voice broke the news that Benward’s act of trying to mislead casinos could be part of his larger trade. On Instagram, Benward claims to be an “artist, magician, creator, and illusionist.”
Pennsylvania State Police were none too fond of his latest performance. Law enforcement alleges Benward and a co-conspirator — 42-year-old Denielle Derohan — tried to distract a roulette dealer back in February in order to swindle money from Rivers Casino Pittsburgh.
Police say Derohan purposely caused a commotion as the roulette wheel was spinning. When the ball landed on the winning number, she allegedly relayed the number to Benward who, with the slightest of hands, would then slide chips onto the winning color and/or number.
The scheme worked at least three times, police say. The duo reaped more than $10,500 illegally before casino security uncovered the trick. Benward and Derohan were both charged this week for the February incident.
Similar Scam in 2015
Benward wasn’t supposed to be on the Rivers Casino Pittsburgh floor, as he’s been banned from all Pennsylvania casinos since 2015. The state placed him on its Involuntary Casino Exclusion List that year after Benward tried to scam the Mount Airy Casino in the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains.
It’s unclear how Benward accessed Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, as his legitimate identification should have resulted in a denial of access.
In the 2015 incident, police said Benward worked with another adult male — 45-year-old Jerome James Hartfield — to try and deceive a roulette dealer. The police report detailed that Benward told the dealer to place $60 on the number 16. But once the roulette wheel began spinning, Benward told the dealer he didn’t say 16. The dealer removed the bet. As the roulette wheel ended on the winning number of 11, Benward then claimed to the dealer that he had said 11, not 16.
Hartfield, posing as a random patron unaffiliated with Benward, backed up Benward’s claim that the dealer wrongly heard him, and that he indeed asked to bet on 11. The dealer didn’t buy it, and called security to escort the men off the premises.
Shaun Benward is facing considerable time behind bars should prosecutors prove his guilt. After his arrest, he was charged with theft by deception — a third-degree felony — and six counts of fraud.
Additional charges have since been brought against Benward for driving on a suspended license. Pennsylvania court records show Benward is awaiting a preliminary hearing.
Benward’s lengthy rap sheet additionally includes once being a fugitive in Pennsylvania after he fled after being charged in the 2015 Mount Airy case. He ended up serving time at a Delaware County prison.
The felony charge alone facing Benward is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
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