Texas man held in poker scam

Published 10:57 am Friday, March 28, 2014

A Texas man accused of running an illegal poker scam and bilking local businessmen out of thousands of dollars was held without bail this morning.
Thomas Stephanis, 72, of Houston, Texas, was arrested Thursday by Warren County investigators and agents from the Mississippi Gaming Commission and charged with running a gambling game without a state license and enticing a person to gamble, Sheriff Martin Pace said.
Stephanis used aliases to scam businessmen into meeting with him and two Jackson men whom he met at a local casino at multiple hotel conference rooms under the pretense of making a business investment, Pace said.
“They were there to have the appearance of a real meeting and a real poker game,” Pace said.
Once in the room, Stephanis would tell the victims that the person they were supposed to meet with had missed their flight or was stuck in traffic and suggest a friendly poker game.
“They started playing what they thought was a game to pass the time,” Pace said. “They allowed the victims to win the first several hands, and then he started taking all their money. We do know of one instance where over $10,000 was lost.”
At 4:15 p.m. Thursday, law enforcement officers raided one of Stephanis’ games and the Mississippi Gaming Commission seized $2,300, Pace said.
“There were IOUs on the table for even more than that,” Pace said. “If the locals ran out of money and didn’t have enough to meet the bet, they would let them sign IOUs and it appears they would follow them to the bank to cash out the IOUs.”
Stephanis, who is on felony probation out of Louisiana, was held without bail this morning on the local charges and investigators were awaiting word from the Louisiana Department of Corrections on how that agency planned to deal with his probation violation, Pace said.
The two Jackson men were charged with misdemeanor gambling and released on $1,000 bail each.
The investigation is continuing, Pace said.
“We feel there may be more victims out there who were lured somewhat innocently into this,” he said.
Anyone who feels they fell victim to the scam should call the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 601-636-1761.

Man charged in drug case
A Vicksburg man accused of drug possession was held without bail this morning.
At 7:24 a.m. today, Curtis Anderson, 58, who lives on Ken Karyl Avenue, was arrested and charged with felony possession of marijuana, Vicksburg police Lt. Sandra Williams said.
During his arrest, investigators seized a felony amount of marijuana and a large amount of cash, Williams said.
Anderson was held at police headquarters this morning awaiting his initial appearance in Vicksburg Municipal Court.

Accused burglary nabbed
A Vicksburg man accused of breaking into a tool shed in February was held without bail this morning.
Spencer Griffin, 24, who lives on Washington Street, was arrested Thursday and charged with burglary and receiving stolen property, Vicksburg police Lt. Sandra Williams said.
Griffin is accused of breaking into a shed Feb. 16 and stealing an assortment of tools valued at $600 that was pawned at a local pawn show, Williams said.
Griffin was held without bail this morning at police headquarters awaiting his initial appearance in Vicksburg Municipal Court.