A Michigan man was sentenced to four years in federal prison for stealing $125,740 from 300 VIP gamblers in Michigan and Kansas while using elaborate disguises to pass as an elderly man – and sometimes woman.
John Christopher Colletti, 56, wore full prosthetic face masks, hats, glasses, surgical masks and used a walker to transform into an unassuming elderly person during his crime sprees.
When he was found, he had the personal information of 300 victims, as well as several face masks – including one of a woman.
The conman stole names, driver’s license numbers, and the last four digits of people’s Social Security numbers to access the bank accounts of VIP gamblers using Global Payments Gaming Services kiosks at various casinos.
John Christopher Colletti, 56, was sentenced to four years in federal prison for stealing $125K from VIP gamblers in casinos in Michigan and Kansas
He was arrested at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort in Mayetta, Kansas, on March 12, 2020
While disguised as an elderly person, Colletti used the stolen personal information at the casino kiosks which offer jackpot processing, e-check, ATM and cash advance services.
On March 12, 2020, he was arrested at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort in Mayetta, Kansas, when multiple large cash withdrawals drew the attention of law enforcement.
At the time, he was dressed as an elderly man, wearing a straw hat and glasses, and using a walker as he made more than $20,000 in cash withdrawals.
After being questioned by security about the large withdrawals, Colletti immediately headed to the restroom where he removed his disguise and ‘exited the casino with a noticeable bulge down the front of his pants, believed to be the prosthetic face mask,’ according to FBI reports.
Investigators found his clothes, walker, $11,000 cash, and two Michigan driver’s licenses in the bathroom. The licenses belonged to two known victims and had sticky notes attached with the victims’ Social Security numbers and telephone numbers. The photos on the licenses had been altered to show an individual wearing a prosthetic face mask.
FBI agents found drivers licenses altered with photos of Colletti wearing multiple prosthetic face masks and sticky notes with Social Security and telephone numbers attached to the back
When he was arrested, police found more evidence in his car including multiple prosthetic face masks, 83 driver’s licenses, a straw hat with a black ribbon, a counterfeit $100 bill, surgical masks, and ‘books on how to get away with committing crime.’
A recovered flash drive contained forgery documents, background checks on various people, tutorials on how to counterfeit money, and Excel spreadsheets with more than 1,000 names, according to reports.
An electronic paper trail and his known tactics then connected law enforcement to his crimes in Michigan at the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit.
In May 2019, MGM Grand investigators in Detroit identified at least 10 identity theft victims who had lost $98,840 at the casino. The incidents were then reported to the Michigan State Police Gaming Section.
While investigating, casino security cameras caught a disguised Colletti making large cash withdrawals from several kiosks.
Each time he withdrew from kiosks at the MGM Grand Casino, Colletti inserted a counterfeit driver’s license for the victim and looked down at a piece of paper, which authorities believe contained the stolen personal information needed to complete the transaction.
Colletti used the altered driver’s licenses and stolen personal information at the casino kiosks to withdrawal large amounts of cash
From 2019 to 2020 the conman collected $125,740 from the bank accounts of 300 VIP gamblers at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort in Kansas and the MGM Grand in Michigan
On May 23, 2019, cameras at the MGM Grand Detroit recorded Colletti wearing a prosthetic mask, blue jacket, dark cap, blue jeans and sunglasses while making 15 cash withdrawals totaling $30,000 in less than half an hour.
He then got into a taxi cab and was dropped off in Greektown. Still in disguise, he walked down the street and entered the bathroom inside the Pegasus Taverna Restaurant exiting ten minutes later wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans, and dark shoes carrying a black plastic bag.
Colletti was hoping to get the minimum sentence imposed under the terms of his plea agreement- a 24-month sentence- due to his relatively clean criminal background with only one prior conviction in 2007.
Stacey Studnicki, his court-appointed lawyer, suggested that mental health treatment would be the best option for her client. She wrote in court documents, ‘He has recently witnessed the dissolution of his marriage, and his immediate family also has withdrawn their support of him.’
His court appointed lawyer attempted to send him to a mental health facility to avoid prison pointing to his recent divorce and the separation from his immediate family
But on Thursday he was ordered to pay back the $125,740 along with his four year federal prison sentence
However, prosecutors were unmoved suggesting the judge sentence Colletti to 51 months, arguing he ‘orchestrated an ingenious, elaborate scheme’ to steal money from casino patrons ‘while clad in Hollywood-esque disguises’ and that they did not believe that he would stop until he was caught.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Particka has argued that ‘Colletti has essentially zero employment history in the past 20 years and was unable to provide any concrete details as to how he supported himself during those two decades’ leading her to question his supposed relatively clean criminal history.
GSPS has assumed the loss on behalf of Colletti’s victims for the moment but he has been ordered to pay back the money that he stole along with his four year federal prison sentence.