Nebraska Man Pleads Not Guilty in $350K Casino Bitcoin Swindle


In a dramatic courtroom scene earlier this week, Roberto Orellana, the man at the center of a high stakes swindle that saw a South Dakota casino duped out of $350k, pleaded not guilty to charges of grand theft. Orellana, a 44-year-old Omaha, Nebraska resident, is accused of running a cunning scheme to defraud the Grand River Casino.

Woven into this narrative are details of a well-plotted deception that played out in rural South Dakota. The storyline began innocuously enough when an unsuspecting casino employee received a text message on his phone. In his role working in the Mobridge property’s cashier’s cage, text messages were a routine part of his work. Turned out, however, this message was far from ordinary.

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A request ostensibly from his boss, the text directed the employee to convert the casino’s money into bitcoins via a machine in Aberdeen, SD. A second message then veered from the original mandate, instructing him to hand the cash over to a man alleged to be a lawyer representing the casino. Their rendezvous point was to be a gas station, the Dakota Sunset station, in Mitchell, SD – a sizable 236 miles from Grand River Casino.

Braving the distance, the committed employee arrived at the designated location, only to find not one, but two men waiting for him. Without hesitation, he forked over the substantial sum, seemingly putting to rest the urgent matter of the ‘audit’ mentioned in the texts.

In a crucial break in the case, Special Agent Brian Larson of South Dakota’s Division of Criminal Investigation narrowed in on suspicious details recorded by the gas station’s surveillance cameras. He was able to pinpoint a credit card used by one of the suspects and traced it back to the car’s owner living in Omaha, Nebraska. As the puzzle pieces fell into place, Orellana was subsequently arrested and charged. The fate of his accomplice, however, has yet to be determined – as is the legal status of the duped casino employee.

During the court proceedings, presided over by Judge Chris Giles, the request to alter bond conditions for Orellana was denied. If found guilty, Orellana could be incarcerated for up to 15 years and saddled with a hefty fine of up to $30,000.

Adding an additional layer to the intrigue, authorities have not publicly disclosed the fate of the ill-gotten $350k or how the plot was initially discovered and reported to authorities. The casino’s ownership by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe also leads to more unanswered questions about the motive of this scheme.

This South Dakota intrigue adds to the growing list of similar incidents affecting casinos all across the United States. For now, the spotlight remains firmly on the high stakes deception unraveling in the quiet plains of South Dakota. The true scale and complexity of this case will only fully emerge as the courtroom drama continues to unfold.