A Nevada district judge has sentenced repeat offender William Ferguson to a minimum of eight years in prison for stealing over $20,000 in casino chips. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Stealing from five casinos
District Judge Monica Trujillo has sentenced William Ferguson, 66, to serve at least eight years in prison for stealing over $20,000 in casino chips.
Reporter Briana Erickson took to Twitter with a still of Ferguson shouting at Judge Trujillo via video in court during his sentencing at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas on October 6:
“You are very evil, evil, cold-hearted dogs,” Ferguson said, despite being warned not to talk over the judge several times during the virtual hearing.
A jury convicted Ferguson in April 2021 of stealing from five casinos – the New York-New York, Golden Nugget, the Palms, Binion’s and Wynn Las Vegas – in 2019. The serial casino criminal has stolen or attempted to steal over $150,000 in casino chips since the 1990s, Deputy District Attorney Brianna Lamanna said.
Nine felonies so far
Considering courts had already convicted Ferguson of nine felonies for similar offenses over the years, Judge Trujillo elected to sentence Ferguson as a habitual criminal.
“This is a hard one because the habitual criminal statute proposes to deter repetitive behavior,” Trujillo said. “And I’m not sure how much more repetitive you can get with steadily increasing your wealth from people and businesses of Clark County,” she added.
The serial casino criminal might consider himself fortunate to only be serving at least eight years in prison out of a maximum of 20. Deputy DA Lamanna went as far as asking Trujillo to impose a life sentence on Ferguson.
tourists are our lifeblood”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal cited Lamanna as saying that while stealing casino chips was typically a minor offense, the repeated victimization of the casinos magnified the crime. She added that the life sentence was appropriate for someone who “spends 26 years of their life living a life of crime” and victimizing “tourists in our town where tourists are our lifeblood.”
The serial casino chip-lifter’s attorney, Michael Sanft, countered during Ferguson’s trial that the chips were just chips because they had never been cashed in at casino cages. As such, he argued, the casino chips shouldn’t get valued at face value. Sanft acknowledged that his client was “obviously talented enough” to lift chips from tables.
In 2019, video cameras captured Ferguson in Nevada casinos sporting a yellow-billed baseball cap and taking chips off of roulette tables.
it’s not to the level where we’re saying this guy is a threat to the economic engine of Nevada.”
“But in terms of the stuff that was actually taken in these situations,” the attorney added, “it’s not to the level where we’re saying this guy is a threat to the economic engine of Nevada.”
Ferguson will learn how much restitution he must pay at a hearing set for October 13.