The state of Nevada seeks Semion Kronenfeld, who is charged for failing to repay his $12.9 million debt to two casinos in Las Vegas area, which he piled over 5 years ago.
Semion Kronenfeld, Toronto real estate businessman and high-roller gambler, is currently experiencing serious difficulties, related to his 5 years old gambling debts.
He was named in an arrest warrant, which was issued right after the Clark County District Court grand jury charged him in a 12-count indictment of obtaining money under false pretenses, felony theft and usage of bad checks.
He made it into US gambling news, as his situation appears to be one of the largest casino debt cases, which reached the level of a court in Nevada. If Semion is found guilty, he would probably have to spend decades in prison.
Craig Mueller, Kronenfeld’s lawyer in Las Vegas, chose not to respond to the charges. The prosecutor Jake Merback, who is the head of the Clark County District attorney’s office bad check unit, commented that it wasn’t confirmed where Kronenfeld is residing at the moment.
The beginning of the story
Toronto businessman got himself involved in a huge casino debt Case for $12.9 million in the USA
• Semion Kronenfeld indicted for failing to repay his debt to two casinos in the Las Vegas area
• Harel Zahavi, California ice cream magnate, is challenging the Bad check law in court
• Ex-NBA All-Star Antoine Walker, pleaded guilty in court for using bad checks while gambling in casino
Semion’s case became public in 2009 when he declared his occupation on several casino credit records as an owner of an investment real estate company. He claimed that his company was based in Ontario, and that he held an Israeli passport. Additionally, he spelled his last name wrong as Cronenfeld, which was completely against US gambling laws.
His charge, which was announced in the beginning of February, accused him of failing to repay $7.9 million casino IOUs written in October 2008 at The Venetian resort on the Las Vegas Strip and another $5 million later the same year at the Green Valley Ranch resort in Henderson, Nevada.
Previous examples similar to Kronenfeld’s case
Kronenfeld doesn’t appear to have any luck, as the state of Nevada considers written casino IOUs, also known as markers, like fraudulent checks. The state law allows prosecutors to collect a 10% processing and prosecution fee along with any settlement. Usually, most of the cases are resolved before any charges are filed.
Kronenfeld’s case is one of the largest to reach the court level since Nevada added the legislature “credit extended by any licensed gaming establishment” to the state’s Bad check law in 1995.
This law is used as a model for other US states where casino businesses are operating and a challenge of its constitutionality is currently pending before the Nevada Supreme Court. This case was brought up by Harel Zahavi, California ice cream tycoon, who was convicted of failing to pay $384,000 in casino IOUs, back in 2008.
He argued that casino markers are short-term business loans, and not personal checks, because casinos usually hold them for several months before redeeming them.
There was a similar to Kronenfeld’s case back in 2009 when Terrance “Terry” Watanabe, a wealthy ex-owner of the Omaha, Nebraska based Oriental Trading Co., was indicted on the allegations that he failed to pay $14.75 million casino debts. He, on his hand, counter-sued Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., followed by a confidential settlement which both sides reached in July 2010.
Another famous casino bad check case include a $2.5 million argument between Joe Francis, the founder of “Girls Gone Wild” and several casinos owned by Steve Wynn, a Las Vegas casino magnate. The case is still pending before the Nevada Supreme Court.
Different example is the conviction of the former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker in 2011 when Walker pleaded guilty in the court. He was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay around $770,000 compensation.