Christian Lusardi is best known in the world of poker for executing a counterfeit chip scheme during last year’s Borgata Winter Poker Open.
But to federal authorities, he’s also the man behind a bootleg DVD importing business, and that proved to be a much more interesting story to prosecutors.
Lusardi was sentenced to five years in prison on March 30 for charges related to that bootlegging operation, which saw him importing counterfeit DVDs from China.
The investigation into the counterfeiting operation was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
The prosecution was led out of the US Attorney’s Office in Wilmington, North Carolina by Assistant United States Attorney Susan B. Menzer. In a press release, the office outlined exactly how investigators came to find out the extent of Lusardi’s operation.
Over 35,000 Counterfeit DVDs Found After Search
“Investigation revealed that several boxes of counterfeit DVDs mailed from China were intercepted by the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The boxes of counterfeit DVDs were controlled delivered to the identified address,” the press release stated.
“Shortly after the controlled delivery was complete, agents made contact with Lusardi which resulted in the subsequent search of Lusardi’s residence. The search resulted in the discovery of over 35,500 counterfeit DVDs.”
The press release went on to say that between June 2010 and July 2012, Lusardi was heavily involved in the manufacture and sale of counterfeit DVDs, and that he collected over $1.3 million through a PayPal account during this time.
After pleading guilty to copyright infringement and trafficking in counterfeit labels, Lusardi was ordered to pay over $1.1 million in restitution on top of his prison sentence. He will also face three years of supervised release after his prison term is completed.
None of this has anything to do with poker, and yet, poker players will likely be happy to hear that Lusardi will be behind bars, even if it isn’t for his crimes against the game.
In January 2014, Lusardi took part in the first event of the Borgata Winter Poker Open, a $500 buy-in event that was in most ways unremarkable aside from the massive field of over 4,800 players.
Lusardi Caught After Flushing Counterfeit Chips
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary through two days of play, but on Day 3, with just 27 players remaining in contention, the tournament suddenly grinded to a halt.
The Borgata announced to players that the event had been canceled due to an investigation by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, due to the fact that counterfeit chips had been introduced into the tournament.
Within days, officials began to focus their investigation on Lusardi. Perhaps the most damning evidence against him came not from the Borgata, but in a sewer pipe at the Harrah’s Resort and Casino.
That’s where Lusardi was staying, and counterfeit Borgata chips were found to be clogging a pipe originating in his room, leaving little doubt as to what had happened.
While that took care of Lusardi, that still left the 27 players who had made Day 3 of the tournament in limbo (despite his use of counterfeit chips, Lusardi busted last on the second day of the tournament).
In the end, payouts and refunds were distributed to over 2,100 players, though some of the 27 remaining in the contest felt they were short changed and have pursued legal action against the Borgata as a result.