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Body In Creek ID'd As Witness In Casino Fraud Case 

Published September 09. 2018 05:41PM

WILKES-BARRE - The body recovered from Mill Creek on Saturday has been identified as a Shavertown man who was a key witness in a fraud and theft case at Mohegan Sun Pocono casino.

Matthew Crane, 28, was the man whose body was found floating in the creek at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Dan Hughes, Luzerne County's chief deputy coroner.

Three people walking by spotted Crane's body in the creek, near a bridge that separates Mayock Street in Wilkes-Barre from Oak Street in Plains Twp. One member of the group said the dead man appeared to have a wound to his head.

The cause and manner of Crane's death will be determined following an autopsy conducted by forensic pathologist Dr. Gary Ross this afternoon, Hughes said.

Authorities continue to investigate the death, he said. Police from Wilkes-Barre and Plains Twp., as well as state police, responded Saturday.

Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said her office is not involved in the investigation as of Sunday.

Casino case

Crane, while working as a table dealer at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 2015, informed authorities about a scheme to defraud the casino of hundreds of thousands of dollars through free slots play with the use of duplicated player cards and personal information numbers, according to court records.

Police in January 2016 charged Robert Pellegrini, a former casino vice president, and Mark Heltzel, a frequent casino patron, with theft and related charges in connection with the scheme.

At the time he reported the scheme, Crane was romantically involved with Rochelle Poszeluznyj, a beverage server at the casino who conspired with Pellegrini and Heltzel and was also charged, according to a police affidavit.

Crane's body was recovered about 2 miles downstream from the casino, according to online mapping applications.

Pellegrini and Heltzel in October 2016 agreed to plead guilty to one felony co unt each of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Pellegrini in June 2017 was sentenced to serve 32 months in federal prison. He is incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution-Schuylkill in Minersville, with a scheduled release date of Oct. 29, 2019.

Heltzel in August 2017 was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison.

According to federal inmate records, he is enrolled in a Residential Re-entry Management program based in Philadelphia.

Participants in the program may be lodged in a halfway house or be placed on home confinement, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

Federal records do not clarify whether Heltzel is in a halfway house.

A source on Sunday said multiple employees of Mohegan Sun Pocono reported that Heltzel is at home.

A message left Sunday at a listed phone number for Heltzel, at a Dallas address, was not returned.

 

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