North Las Vegas Man Joins Nevada’s Notorious Black Book after Casino Chip Thefts

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The small city of North Las Vegas is astir as it becomes home to the newest inductee of Nevada’s nefarious “Black Book.” The notoriety belongs to one Neal Ahmed Hearne, a man whose audacious theft of casino chips from table games in 15 different Las Vegas casinos has met with its inevitable consequence. Hearne now holds the dubious honor of being the 37th individual to be permanently banned from setting a foot inside any casino in this renowned gambling capital of the world.

The decision to add Hearne, a North Las Vegas resident, to this infamous list of perpetually banished gamblers, was made by the five-member Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC). The decision was unanimous, marking Hearne’s name indelibly in its Excluded Persons ledger during a regulatory hearing conducted on Thursday.

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As per the customary process, Hearne was extended an invitation to put forth his defense at the hearing. Despite given this opportunity for a fair hearing, Neal Ahmed Hearne was noticeably absent, adding yet another dent to his discolored reputation.

The coverage of Hearne’s case in the Las Vegas Review-Journal did spark a robust discourse on the guidelines for inclusion in the Black Book. Certain members of the commission queried whether the act of stealing chips, Hearne’s specific crime, bore sufficient severity to warrant lifelong exclusion from Nevada’s casinos.

The critical question was posed by Commissioner Brian Krolicki, “Are we going to place anyone who has grabbed chips from a table in a casino on the excluded list? Or only if they’ve done it more than ten times?” Concerned about the future implications of this decision, he added, “I just want clarity on whatever precedent we’re setting, or if this policy shift is something we want to advocate, let’s unequivocally stake our claim.”

In response, Senior Deputy Attorney General, John Michela, clarified that it wasn’t Hearne’s first contention with the law. At least two other chip thieves had precedently been assigned to the Black Book. Moreover, Hearne had independently satisfied three stringent criteria that mandated his inclusion on the list:

  • A previous felony conviction.
  • A conviction marking a crime of moral turpitude.
  • A legal order already prohibiting him from a casino.

Michela pointed out, inclusion could be triggered by meeting merely one of these criteria. Neal had managed the feat of accomplishing all three.

To cap it, the NGC revealed a surveillance video from one of Hearne’s capers. The damning footage disclosed Hearne nonchalantly approaching a blackjack table at Aria and adroitly snatching a handful of chips as if it were but a normal course of the game. A shocked dealer and several disconcerted players bore witness as he fled the scene.

To put Hearne’s ignominy in perspective, the 36th person banished to the Black Book was Shaun Joseph Benward, a Mississippi illusionist believed to have used his arcane skills to defraud roulette dealers. That was last December, and the vote was as unanimous as the one against Hearne.

It’s worth noting that the attorney general’s office undertakes a tedious review every few years to track down each blacklisted gambling pariah. The purpose is to purge the names of those confirmed to have passed away, ensuring the Black Book remains an up-to-date register of Nevada’s most unwelcome visitors.