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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
February 3, 2006

Office of The Attorney General
- Zulima V. Farber, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Andrew Rossner, Acting Director

 

John R. Hagerty
609-984-1936

 

New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice “12 Most Wanted” Fugitive Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering
Virginia Lawyer Charged with Laundering $250,000 in Stolen Money
at Atlantic City Casino

TRENTON - Attorney General Zulima V. Farber announced that a Division of Criminal Justice “12 Most Wanted” fugitive has pleaded guilty in Atlantic County Superior Court to laundering more than $250,000 in stolen monies through an Atlantic City casino.

According to the Division of Criminal Justice - Casino Prosecutions Bureau, Robert Short, 38, formerly of North First Street, Arlington, VA, pleaded guilty before Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael Connor to a charge of second degree money laundering. The Feb. 2 guilty plea calls for a sentence of four years in New Jersey state prison. Sentencing is scheduled for April 7.

The State Grand Jury indictment charged that on Feb. 21, 2003, Short wired $250,000 from a personal checking account to the Taj Mahal Casino. On Feb. 22, Short arrived at the Taj Mahal Casino and withdrew a $10,000 casino marker. The investigation determined that Short gambled briefly at roulette and, after losing approximately $1,000, withdrew the remaining $240,000 from the casino. The investigation revealed that Short had no gambling history at the Taj Mahal Casino and, given the minimal gaming activity, casino authorities notified the Division of Gaming Enforcement of the suspicious activity.

On March 4, 2003, law enforcement officials from the Thomas County Sheriffs Office in Colby, Kansas, contacted the Division of Gaming Enforcement - State Police Casino Investigation Bureau regarding Short. On Feb. 26, 2003, Short’s vehicle was stopped by Colby County Sheriffs Officers patrolling I-70. The subsequent investigation by the Thomas County Sheriffs office uncovered a quantity of marijuana, hashish, a semi-automatic handgun, and $207,000 in cash.

Short was arrested and charged with possession of illegal drugs and weapons violations. Short was released from custody on Feb. 27, 2003. The investigation next uncovered information that Short, a lawyer and former employee of the Law Office of Trapeni, Romero & Morrison in Fairfax County, VA, was wanted in VA on charges of forgery and theft of nearly $500,000 from the Trapeni law firm and from personal clients. Short was subsequently convicted and sentenced on the VA charges.

Short was listed as a Division of Criminal Justice “12 Most Wanted Fugitive” on Nov. 21, 2003. On Feb. 19, 2004, America’s Most Wanted aired a segment which featured Short and his flight to avoid justice. As a result of the national television program, the Division of Criminal Justice - Casino Prosecutions Bureau received information that Short was returning to the United States from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 3, 2005. Short was arrested by Dulles Airport Police and U.S. Customs authorities as he attempted to re-enter the country. The arrest ended the 16-month fugitive status.

Ted Grove, Bureau Chief, Casino Prosecutions Bureau, said “this investigation and prosecution uncovered a significant money laundering activity that was stopped at the very outset. Anyone who violates the strict rules governing financial transactions in New Jersey’s gaming industry by attempting to launder stolen monies through Atlantic City casinos will be identified, arrested and prosecuted.”

The prosecution was coordinated by Deputy Attorney General Kerry L. Menchen of the Division of Criminal Justice - Casino Prosecution Bureau. The investigation was conducted by New Jersey State Police Det. James Pearson assigned to the Division of Gaming Enforcement. Additional investigative support was received from the Taj Mahal Hotel & Casino.

Additional information, including a copy of the State Grand Jury indictment and defendant photograph is available via the Division of Criminal Justice Web site at www.njdcj.org.

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