Minnesota Casino Employee Sentenced to 8 Months in Federal Prison

A former female employee at a Native tribe-owned casino in Minnesota has been sentenced to eight months in prison for embezzling funds from the property of the resort. In March, Jennifer Lynn Boutto, 33, pleaded guilty to the charge of theft and embezzlement of the funds by the tribe.

Boutto Admitted to Stealing $315,000

While working as a Fortune Bay Resort Casino in Tower, Mn employee, Boutto stole around $315,000 in cash from the property. This casino is the only gaming property of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. On Monday, Eric Tostrud, Minnesota US District Court Judge, handed an 8-month federal prison sentence to Boutto, followed by one year of supervised release.

Additionally, Boutto is ordered to give the Fortune Bay Resort Casino its full refund of $315,739.87. According to the details, Boutto’s embezzlement took place from June 2013 through October 2019. A public defender was assigned to the case.

Fortune Bay is located approximately 25 miles south of Minnesota’s border with Canada. This respected establishment features around 12 blackjack tables, 800 slots and a four-table poker room. Additionally, its hotel and RV resort consists of 173 rooms, a golf course, an indoor pool, cross-county trails for both snowmobiling and hiking and five restaurants.  

Boutto Was Hired in 2008

As stated by officials of Fortune Bay, Boutto was hired at the resort as a receptionist in 2008. Within five years, she managed to climb the ladder and become a front desk supervisor. Under that role, she was able to provide customers with cash refunds without the approval of a higher-up.

As evidence suggests, Boutto wrote approximately 3,000 fraudulent cash refunds between 2013 and 2019, all of which totaled upwards of $315,000. These illegal refunds were written against recent customer invoices. However, the customers did not actually file the complaints and they weren’t seeking refunds – that was the wrongdoing of Boutto and that is how she managed to pocket the refunds.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) did not reveal any details on how the cover of the theft was blown. W. Anders Folk, the Acting US Attorney, stated that Boutto took full advantage of the managerial position that she was trusted with and used it to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the resort. This theft had a massive negative impact on the tribe, as it wasn’t fully able to provide services to its members. He also added that the sentence is a good signal of the seriousness o the crime committed by Boutto.

Cathy Chavers, Bois Forte Tribal Chairwoman, issued a thank you note to the DOJ for its efforts into bringing Boutto to justice, but also for the order on the refund. She stated that crimes against tribes in Indian Country are taking place often and the worst part about it is that the punishments are way too light.

Chavers added that the resort applauds Judge Tostrud for acknowledging the seriousness of the crime and Boutto prison’s sentence suggests that these types of crimes will not be tolerated.

Just like many other tribes across the US, the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa was impacted by the pandemic. Last week, four new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Bois Forte Reservation. There’s no denying the fact that COVID-19 is spreading among Minnesota’s Native Americans. The most recent seven-day average case rate in the state per 100,000 people is 20 for white people, but 120 for tribal populations.

Fortune Bay’s business has suffered throughout 2020 and 2021. As a measure to combat the consequences of the pandemic, the resort is mandating vaccines to its employees, and they need to get vaccinated no later than November 1.

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