Posted on: April 20, 2022, 03:07h.
Last updated on: April 20, 2022, 03:33h.
An Encore Boston Harbor loan shark targeted distraught gamblers who were down on their luck and chasing their losses, law enforcement alleges.
Kimanh Le, 50, of Quincy, Ma., was arrested on April 10 at the integrated casino resort just outside Boston, across the Mystic River in Everett. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office alleges that Le was surveilled by Encore Boston security engaging in illegal lending services to gamblers on the casino floor.
A state grand jury indicted Le on four counts of criminal usury charges — more commonly known as loansharking. The practice involves loaning money or items of value — in this case casino gaming chips — at high interest rates.
According to court records that have only recently been made public, prosecutors allege that Le hunted gamblers who were losing heavily and seemed upset. Prosecuting documents claim Le would approach such Encore Boston Harbor patrons and offer them cash or gaming chips with interest rates as high as 5% per day and 10% per week.
Le has pleaded not guilty and remains free on her own recognizance. However, she is banned from the state’s three commercial casinos as her case plays out, and must not leave the commonwealth.
Massachusetts law limits lending services on the state’s three licensed casino floors to the actual casinos. No other business or person is legally allowed to offer credit or loans on the properties.
Le allegedly failed to adhere to those conditions. Police and Wynn Resorts security said her activities in the casino were quickly discovered.
On multiple occasions, investigators observed Kimanh Le take cash from a large bundle inside her purse and hand it directly to fellow patrons, who then immediately utilized the cash to buy in at one of the high-limit tables,” prosecutors alleged in court filings.
One person who accepted a loan from Le — identified in the court papers as a “cooperating source (CS),” said she offered 5% interest on loans under $10,000. But if the person failed to repay the loan and 5% interest within 24 hours, the interest jumped to 10%.
The CS admitted to agreeing to nine loans with Le totaling approximately $78,000. Even if individuals were permitted to make loans to gamblers on casino floors, Massachusetts lending laws limit interest rates to 20% annually — far lower than what Le was offering.
“Kimanh Le acts as an underground financial institution, maintaining a loan clientele of active gamblers, largely comprised of individuals from the Asian American community,” prosecutors added in their complaint.
Police Presence Constant
Massachusetts legalized commercial gaming in 2011. The casino bill included a provision that state police have a 24/7 presence at all casinos in the commonwealth.
Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park are required to have Massachusetts State Police members on-site at all times. The officers are part of the Massachusetts Gaming Enforcement Unit (GEU).
“The GEU has a 24/7 presence at all three casinos and has regulatory as well as criminal enforcement responsibilities,” a statement from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission read.