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Fake ID=Real Risk
Legal Implications of Various Types of Fake ID for Professional GamblersBy Andrew S. Blumen, Attorney at Law
(From Blackjack Forum IX #1, March 1989)
© Blackjack Forum 1989
One of the recurring problems for the professional blackjack player is being able to play in a casino that is dealing a good game without being recognized as a card counter by the casino employees. When that occurs, the player is usually barred.
So players go to great lengths to be able to play undetected. Among the props used by the player are false beards and mustaches, wigs, dressing and playing the role of the "hick from the sticks" and many other similar ruses.
In conjunction with the above props, many players obtain false identification documents (I.D.) so that when asked who they are by casino personnel, they can produce proof of a name not known by the Griffin Agency or the casino security. Players using certain types of false identification (I.D.) run the risk of federal and state prosecution. The following actually happened to a very successful "21" player.
Jim had been playing blackjack for many years all over the world. Because he was extremely successful, the number of casinos where he could play was dwindling to the point where he had to do something to fool the casinos or look for a new profession. Jim decided that the only chance he had of continuing his career as a professional "21" player was to convince the casinos he was someone other than himself.
Jim set about this endeavor the same way he did when learning to play blackjack. He visited various bookstores and searched through several mail order catalogues seeking literature which would tell him how to obtain identification documents (I.D.) in a name other than his own. He was amazed at the vast number of books and pamphlets published dealing with this subject matter. These publications included subjects on how to obtain birth certificates and death certificates, how to obtain drivers' licenses while not physicalIy appearing at the motor vehicle office of that particular state, how to obtain social security cards and credit cards.
Armed with this information, Jim sent away to various states and received lists of people who had died at a very young age. He then requested the birth certificates of these dead people. Once he had these documents in his possession, he obtained a social security card in the false name and a driver's license or l.D. card from the appropriate state. He also obtained a Notary Public stamp in a false name. Armed with these documents, Jim was ready to play in casinos within the United States under an assumed name.
However, Jim still had a problem. Since he travelled to foreign casinos on a regular basis, and since they request a passport as proof of identification, Jim went to New York and applied for a passport in the name of one of his fictitious identities. Jim intended to use this passport only when a casino requested it as proof of I.D. and would use his own passport for entering and exiting the country. By only using the false passport for casino purposes, Jim assumed he could not get in trouble.
Several weeks after applying for the passport, several FBI agents arrived at Jim's residence in Nevada armed with an arrest warrant for Jim and a search warrant for his residence. Jim was arrested for "making a false statement in the application for a passport." Jim was taken by the FBI to the Federal Building where he was initially held without bail pending his extradition to New York to face this charge.
During the search of his house, the FBI confiscated lists of births and deaths, several birth and death certificates, social security cards, drivers' licenses, a notary public stamp, and numerous books on assuming a false identity. These items were turned over to the United States District Attorney's office in Nevada. The U.S. Attorney presented these items to a Grand Jury which returned a multiple count indictment against Jim. Jim was charged with several counts of production of a false identification document, a federal crime.
Because there were two separate cases against Jim in the two different states, he had to hire two attorneys to argue his bail motions and to defend him at trial. His attorneys' fees were sizeable. As a result of the criminal charges, Jim faced up to five years in prison and a fine not to exceed $250,000.00 on each individual charge.
In addition, the federal government had enacted "Sentencing Guidelines" which, if applied to Jim's case, could have resulted in mandatory jail time. Due to some fortuitous circumstances, Jim's cases were consolidated and negotiated to his benefit. The terms of the negotiations were that he pled guilty to making a false statement in the application for a passport and to two counts of production of false identification documents. All remaining charges were dismissed. Pursuant to negotiations, Jim received probation. He also was required to do 160 hours of community service and pay a modest fine.
Since the time this case was completed, the Uniform Federal Sentencing Guidelines have been upheld as constitutional by the United States Supreme Court. Had they been applied in Jim's case, Jim would have faced a minimum of six months and a maximum of twelve months in prison. Depending on certain mitigating factors which would determine Jim's offense level, he would most likely not have been eligible for probation. This result would occur although Jim had never been arrested or convicted of any criminal offense before. As a result, Jim would have had to spend time in jail for these offenses.
It is important to note that to be charged with the crime of "production of a false identification document," a person need only have such a document in his possession. It is not necessary to represent this document identifies you to a government official. Among the false documents which can result in criminal charges are drivers' licenses, social security cards, passports and a notary public stamp in a false name.
Had Jim not applied for a passport in a false name, it is unlikely that he would have gotten the attention of the Feds. Therefore, without this attention, Jim would not have been indicted on the additional charges of production of false identification documents. It is for each individual to decide whether the risk of a felony conviction is worth the acquisition of false I.D.
Even without the Feds' initial involvement, the player runs the risk of the casino notifying the Feds if you use false I.D. in their casino, should they discover this. Further complications could also result after arrest, including an Internal Revenue Service review of your financial affairs.
It is up to each individual to determine whether the risks are worth the potential rewards. Should a player decide to take the risk, it is important to remember never to use the false I.D. or give a false name when dealing with a government official. Confine your use to casino personnel only, and never attempt to obtain a passport in a false name. If you do, you very well could end up in jail. ♠
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Fake ID and the LawIn this Blackjack Forum article, an attorney discusses the laws regarding the use of false identification by professional gamblers. Professional gamblers often consider using fake id in casinos because they have often been backed off in these casinos under their real names. The article goes into which types of fake id are less likely to run into legal problems.