Three local residents appeared in state District Court in Havre Thursday on charges stemming from a fraud that stole more than $4,000 from local casinos during the New Year holiday.
T. R. Olson, Wendy Lynn Casey and Steven Robbin Spencer each were charged with theft by common scheme and forgery by common scheme, felonies, after they were accused of taking cash from nine Havre establishments by presenting forged gambling machine payout tickets.
Olson and Casey pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday, with scheduling hearings set for June 4 and June 11, respectively.
Spencer requested Thursday that his qualifications to be represented by the state Public Defenders Office be reviewed, and a hearing was held this morning. Results of the hearing were not available by the Havre Daily News deadline this morning.
The theft charges carry maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine and the forgery charges 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
According to the charging documents, several Havre bar owners and employees reported their establishments had paid out for fraudulent tickets. It appears the defendants made copies of a $200 payout ticket and presented the copies at the casinos.
The Palace Bar paid out on three of the forgeries; the Oxford Bar paid out on three; the Duck Inn paid out on two; PJ’s paid for three; the Golden Spike paid for three; the Shanty Bar paid for two; the Eagles Club paid on three; Murphy’s Pub paid for two; and the Tip It paid for three, for a total of $4,200, the document said.
Several bar employees identified one or more of the suspects, and a witness said one of the defendants had talked about the scam, the charging document said.