JOLIET – Two Michigan men were acquitted Wednesday on charges of cheating in a poker game using hand signals at Hollywood Casino in Joliet.
Judge Edward Burmila said that while it appeared Christopher G. Yaldo, 31, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, and Isam Y. Kejbo, 41, were communicating with each other, prosecutors did not prove the signals influenced their bets. Burmila said he was unable to find them guilty during the bench trial that began Tuesday.
On Nov. 30, 2013, Yaldo and Kejbo were playing Mississippi Stud at Hollywood Casino. According to prosecutors, the men sat apart from one another but would tap different fingers when one was able to see the card the dealer took from the shuffling machine on the table.
Defense attorney Robert Loeb said the two men only were taking advantage of a “sloppy” dealer who wasn’t hiding cards properly. During his videotaped interview with an agent from the state gaming board that was played in court Wednesday, Yaldo said he’d played in a similar manner in other states and didn’t believe it was illegal.
If convicted, both men could have faced from one to three years in prison and a lifetime ban from Illinois casinos.