Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
A scam in which cash was taken out of local casinos’ ATM machines using fake credit cards has ended with guilty pleas from multiple defendants.
The roots of the scam were discovered when Cesar Dario, 33, was arrested in Harrah’s Casino on May 16, 2012. He was video’d swiping fake credit cards in that casino’s ATM machines, according to court records, and Dario was able to steal almost $200,000 cash this way, from Harrah’s.
Cesar Dario had a loaded Glock handgun and meth and phony credit cards on him at the time of his arrest, according to records. In his hotel room at Harrah’s, investigators found “a credit card lab” which Dario reportedly used to make credit cards with which he stole about $15,000 per week -- Dario said he spent it on drugs and “living expenses.”
While Cesar Dario, 33, was being held in jail, he was visited by 27-year-old Josephine Chai and Sarah Jean Howbert, 26. The women reportedly also sent mail to Dario and put cash into his jail shopping account. Investigators monitored their communications and decided that Dario was running a business providing fake credit cards to other persons, and the others used the cards to make their own cash withdrawals from ATMs at more casinos.
Investigators arrested six persons last month, on July 7, these six were charged with using fake cards to steal from Pala Casino. Some of the defendants made deals to share their loot fifty-fifty with the person who provided the cards, according to prosecutor Anna Winn. She also said none of the six defendants live in San Diego County. These persons caused a loss of more than $150,000 to Pala Casino, the prosecutor said, “We have some money recovered, but only about ten percent.”
The six defendants are: Josephine Chai, 27, Sarah Jean Howbert, 26, Ali Qadir Aljadir, 33, Tracy Wan Ping Ser, 34, Keith Mamoru Shigetomi, 34, and Dan David Enriquez, 27. All these defendants have made plea deals and admitted to ID theft. Their penalties range, one person agreed to time served and some will get 180 days local jail time and some expect 16 months local prison.
Dan David Enriquez is the exception, he admitted grand theft in excess of $100,000 and will get a 3 year state prison sentence, according to prosecutor Anna Winn. All defendants are set to be sentenced next month, September, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.