Cops: Banned Magician Entering Casino Was Just the Start

Shaun Benward accused of scamming Pennsylvania casino—and not for the first time
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2022 2:20 PM CDT
Cops: Banned Magician Entering Casino Was Just the Start
   (Getty Images)

A self-described "magician" and "illusionist" with a long history of scamming casinos has allegedly struck again. Shaun Joseph Benward, 35, of Ocean Springs, Miss., is accused of working with 42-year-old Denielle Yvonne Derohan of Gulfport, Miss., to steal more than $10,000 from Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pa., last month, reports the Mississippi Sun Herald. It's unclear how Benward was even able to enter the casino. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board placed him on its Involuntary Casino Exclusion List in October 2015 after he was accused of illegal activities, including conspiracy by trick or fraud, at casinos across the state, WTAE reports.

He is also banned by state gaming control boards in Missouri and Michigan, and has a prior conviction for cheating at the Delaware Park Casino, per the Sun Herald. "Benward has been confirmed as a cheater in multiple casinos across the country and has gaming related arrests with the New Jersey State Police and Pennsylvania State Police," according to Delaware's state lottery office. Pennsylvania authorities say the couple arrived separately at tables at the Rivers Casino, then distracted the dealer so the employee wasn't watching as the ball landed in the still-spinning roulette wheel; Benward would then swiftly place his bet on the winning number, they say.

The couple allegedly tried out the scam five times over a 24-hour period running from Feb. 18 to 19. The scam to nab $3,500 allegedly worked three times, earning the couple $10,500 in all. Both are now charged with theft by deception and criminal conspiracy—third-degree felonies that carry up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines each—and five misdemeanor counts of committing a fraudulent scheme. Benward—whose Instagram account describes him as "Artist. Magician. Creator. Illusionist"—is also facing charges of driving with a suspended license based on his trips to and from the casino, KDKA reports. (Read more theft stories.)

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