Gambler Meets Alleged Gangster, and a Crazy Tale Unfolds

Revealed is an interesting idea about how to launder money
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2016 12:06 PM CST
Updated Dec 3, 2016 9:03 AM CST

(Newser) – It's a money laundering tale that seems destined for Hollywood: Rolling Stone unspools the case against Owen Hanson, who went by O-Dog more than a decade ago when he was a member of the USC football team and as "Junior DeLuca" in his post-college days as the alleged kingpin of a vast criminal enterprise that involved drug trafficking, gambling, and the aforementioned money laundering. He now faces life in prison thanks to the other major player in the story: pro gambler Robert Cipriani, better known by his pseudonym of Robin Hood 702. Cipriani got that moniker because he gained fame by winning big at blackjack and then giving the money to needy recipients. The two out-of-central-casting characters came together because Hanson allegedly struck upon a novel way to launder his proceeds.

"In Cipriani, he apparently saw a means of solving the problem that has long confounded many successful criminal organizations: a surplus of dirty money, no easy way to clean it," writes David Amsden. Under the plan, Cipriani would "cash the drug profits into chips, gamble for a bit to avoid suspicion, and then take it back in the form of an easily-transportable casino check." Cipriani swears he didn't pick up on the scheme at first, figuring he'd simply lucked into a "whale" willing to bankroll his casino trips. But after he loses $2.5 million of Hanson's money, things go off the rails in a hurry, and he winds up going to the FBI. Hanson's legal team says Cipriani was fully in on it and thus isn't reliable. "It is a curious line of defense," notes the article. "One hustler conceding, in essence, that he was outwitted by another." Click for the full story, which includes the detail of a Fox reporter brought along as "insurance" by Cipriani on a meeting with Hanson. (Read more Longform stories.)

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