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France – Jail sentences for Les Princes infra-red scam

By - 30 September 2013

An Italian poker player has been sentenced to two years in prison after using infra-red contact lenses to read cards marked with invisible ink at a casino in Cannes on the French Riveria.

The venue, the Groupe Lucien Barrière-owned Les Princes casino, was taken for €72,000 by 56-year-old Stefano Ampollini, who uses the nickname ‘Parmesan.’

Mr. Ampollini said he was known as a ‘player and cheat with an international reputation’ and that he was proud of his ‘work’.

He colluded with a member of staff at Les Princes who agreed to mark cards with the invisible ink. Mr. Ampollini used another Italian accomplice known as the Israeli he used a series of codes based on sniffs or snorts to signal what cards to choose.

Marc Concas, Barrister for Lucien Barrière, said: “Security found his behaviour rather strange as he won very easily and, above all, because he folded twice when he had an excellent hand, suggesting he knew the croupier’s cards.”

Security called the police who launched an immediate investigation which proved staff had manipulated the cards. Mr. Ampollini was arrested when two months after the first scam he returned to the casino for a second bout. As well as two years in prison he must pay a fine of €105,000.

His accomplices Gianfranco Tirrito, 55, received a three year jail sentence whilst Rocco Grassanno, 57, got two-and-a-half years in prison.

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