It was the perfect crime. Now, I didn’t come to it easily. I’ve never done anything wrong in my life. I don’t even jaywalk; guess there is a little larceny in everyone.
But I really had no choice. I need to explain that right up front. I lost my job as a bank underwriter in the pandemic. I hate to admit, but I even went to a food bank once or twice in a pinch. I know there’s no shame, but for me, it was a big change. After eight months of depleted savings, I finally got a job through my cousin as a blackjack dealer in the local casino.
The casino was an interesting place. My customers were all locals. Sometimes it was a girl’s night, bachelor or bachelorette party, or just a night out for weary parents. But since this casino was miles away from a highway or anywhere tourists would want to go, most of my customers were regulars. Just everyday people who came in to get away from their day-to-day lives and reach for that pot-of-gold dream at the end of an ace, king, queen or jack blackjack.
The Goldrush casino was in a remote location of Wisconsin and was supposed to be run by the local Menominee tribe. I say that because very soon after I started work, I noticed several nefarious dealings in the casino.
Like I said, we served locals and regulars, so anyone else stuck out like a sore thumb. The first was two rather “big-boned” gentlemen who came into the casino every Tuesday and Thursday at 1pm like clockwork. These men wore a lot of gold chains and spoke with New York accents. Let’s just say, it was obvious that they weren’t from Wisconsin. They were in and out in less than a half hour, which seemed odd.
Then a few weeks ago a different man came to my table during the day. He seemed like a local and he said came during the day because he liked to play alone against the dealer. He brought cash to change for chips, but that was fairly common. Some people went to the cashier, some didn’t. He played for about an hour or two and left. He was a normal better and probably broke even, so I didn’t think much of it. He came in for a few weeks about three times a week. Then one day he came in on a Tuesday about two o’clock. But right before he sat down, I saw him sit at the bar next to the New Yorkers.
Then he sat down at my table and his game play immediately changed. He placed unusually high and risky bets, one after another. And he lost – a lot. He was pulling tons of cash from this brown paper lunch bag and he was doubling down and splitting everything. And he kept hitting all the time, even when he had nineteen. I kept asking him if he was sure, but then the pit boss came over and stood next to me, so I shut up. We’re not supposed to help or give advice. I just didn’t want him to lose his shirt. When he was out of cash about an hour later, he thanked me, tipped me and left. But the strangest thing of all was the pit boss took my bin and said he would do me a favor and cash it out right away because it was full. It was full, but that was still very unusual. Why would the pit boss come over for just one guy in the middle of the day. Curious.
He came back on Thursday and then again the next Tuesday. Everything was the same. Each time he lost, he just grinned and said oh well, not my day. I knew there had to be some connection. My former job made me a very suspicious person, almost like a detective. Something was up.
I nosed around a little and talked to my cousin about the casino. She said she didn’t know how they lasted through the pandemic. There was limited capacity and even then there were hardly any people visiting, but they stayed afloat and even hired more people afterward when the customers came back.
Suddenly it all clicked together. They were laundering money by hiring shills to lose the money at the tables. I kept my mouth shut, because I needed my job, but each week it became more obvious.
Then the dairy plant had a fire. A few people were hurt and equipment was ruined, so they had to shut down for three months. It was almost worse than the pandemic. Most of the town was out of work and going to the local food bank that was barely restocked from the pandemic strain.
I wanted to do something. They helped me when I was down. One day it all unfolded in front of me. If I took little bits of the laundered cash, no one would be the wiser. They wouldn’t miss small amounts. I sewed a pocket in my vest and could slip it in unnoticed. Only question was how to get the money out after my shift, as we had to leave our uniforms every night. Then I remembered the brown bag. It was poetic to have the money go out the same way it came in. So each day at my dinner break, I left some fruit or chips or something to legitimately take home my brown bag and slipped the money in.
The first night I was so nervous, I went through the door clutching the brown bag for dear life. But each day it got easier. Every detail was planned. No one would know.
After a week, I bought a small amount of canned goods at the store with my own groceries and left them at the food bank delivery door. Not a ton to be suspicious, but every night like little elves, they would just appear like magic.
I kept this up for three months until the plant reopened, then stopped gradually. No one ever knew. And the people in town didn’t go hungry. Like I said, it was the perfect crime, stealing from criminals and giving to those in need. By the way, I didn’t introduce myself; my name is Robin.
(c) Copyright 2021, Suzanne Rudd Hamilton