The expansive 120,000 square foot casino floor of the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was bustling with activity Saturday night. As the majority of America was celebrating the 4th of July, one blackjack player found himself in hand cuffs after allegedly passing counterfeit bills to the dealer.
According to a publication on TribLive.com, it wasn’t until the wee hours of Sunday morning that casino staff noticed something odd about the way one blackjack player was placing his bets. 24 year old Richard Ferragonio Jr. of Marshall-Shadeland, PA had laid down three $5 bills, and according to the dealer, at least one of them clearly appeared to be a fake.
A pit boss was called over to the table, where upon examination of the supposedly counterfeit money, security was notified. Police responded to a phone call from Rivers Casino around 3:00am Sunday morning, arriving on the scene shortly after to investigate the claims of counterfeit currency in use.
The blackjack player seemed confused by the ordeal, telling authorities he had no idea that the bills might be a forgery. Mr. Ferragonio Jr. explained that he had patronized a South Side bar earlier that evening, where he may have received the counterfeit money as change for his purchases.
Upon examining the blackjack player’s identification, however, police were quickly notified that there was an active arrest warrant issued for Richard Ferragonio Jr. It seems the blackjack player had previously violated the terms of his probation.
The suspect was immediately taken into custody, and according to police documents, that’s when he essentially incriminated himself for passing the counterfeit bills at the PA casino.
Blackjack Player Attempts to Hide Evidence in Police Car
While enduring his complementary police escort to the Allegheny County Jail, authorities allege that Mr. Ferragonio Jr. unbuckled his seat belt. Officers did not realize this until arriving at the station. After removing the allegedly fraudulent blackjack player from the police car, a state trooper inspected the back seat, where they claim to have discovered a lump of cash had been shoved under the seat of the patrol car.
Authorities came up with ten $5 bills, all of which contained the exact same serial number as the fake $5 bill the blackjack player had used at the Rivers Casino just a short time ago. There were also four $10 bills found, each labeled with their own matching serial numbers. At that point, it was rather obvious that the blackjack player’s story was riddled with holes.
Mr. Ferragonio Jr. was booked at the Allegheny County Jail and charged with attempting to pass counterfeit bills at the Pittsburgh casino, as well as violation of his probation terms. No further information has been provided on the suspect’s impending future, but considering the probation violation, it’s less likely he will be afforded the opportunity to make bail.
In the meantime, security officials at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh said they were examining the surveillance camera videos from that Saturday night into early Sunday morning to find out whether the blackjack player used forged currency at any other games on the casino floor.