Posted on: March 10, 2021, 10:14h.
Last updated on: March 10, 2021, 12:56h.
A former tribal casino supervisor has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $300,000 from her employer during a nearly seven-year span.
Jennifer Lynn Boutto, 32, of Orr, Minnesota, admitted her guilt yesterday in Minnesota’s US District Court. Boutto said while working at Fortune Bay Resort Casino, owned and operated by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, she executed nearly 3,000 fraudulent transactions for her financial gain.
The tribe hired Boutto as a reservationist in 2008. But after receiving a promotion some five years later, she began stealing from the tribal casino.
The Department of Justice says that Boutto’s new role — front desk supervisor — allowed her to issue cash refunds to customers without direct supervision. Boutto confessed that she stole money by issuing false cash refunds against the invoices of previous Fortune Bay customers.
With access to the casino’s vault, Boutto retrieved the refunds, but kept the cash for herself. She completed the scheme 2,994 times, stealing $315,739.87.
Boutto pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement and theft of tribal funds. A sentencing date will be scheduled at a later time. She faces a maximum of five years in prison and the restitution of funds.
Tribe Assists in Investigation
Federal prosecutors didn’t divulge many details as to how Boutto’s wrongdoings came to light. However, the DOJ said the case was the result of an investigation conducted “with significant assistance from the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa.”
Minnesota is home to 40 casinos owned by Native Americans. The American Gaming Association says tribal gaming generated an economic impact of $3.72 billion in 2019.
Annual tribal gross gaming revenue (GGR) is more than $1.5 billion. The state receives more than half a billion dollars each year from its Class III gaming arrangements with the 11 compacted tribes.
The Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, however, is one of the smaller players in the Minnesota tribal gaming industry. It has only one casino — Fortune Bay — located in remote northern Minnesota, less than 25 miles from the Canadian border.
The Fortune Bay casino has 800 slot machines, 12 blackjack tables, and four poker tables. The resort additionally offers a 173-room hotel, marina with 40,000 acres of water, RV park, five restaurants, golf course, indoor pool, and trails for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Fortune Restrictions Remain
Fortune Bay is continuing to take steps to protect workers and guests from COVID-19. Each visitor and employee must undergo a temperature screening upon arrival, and the casino floor has been rearranged to promote social distancing. Additionally, everyone must remain masked unless eating or drinking.
The casino is closed nightly midweek from midnight until 9 am to allow thorough cleaning. Gaming stops at 2 am on Friday and Saturday.
Additionally, Fortune Bay’s entire property, including the casino, is nonsmoking until further notice.