Portsmith Judge expresses frustration over ongoing delays in Rivers Casino embezzlement case involving employees


Date and Time of Publication: November 2, 2023, 10:10h. 

Last Updated: November 2, 2023, 04:22h.

Portsmouth Circuit Court Judge Douglas Ottinger expresses frustration with state prosecutors for delays in the case involving two individuals charged with embezzling money from Rivers Casino.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth Virginia
Former count room employees at Rivers Casino Portsmouth allegedly stole nearly $14K in cash from the Virginia business. Marcus Baker, 36, and Joshua Thompson, 29, are facing a felony count each of embezzlement. (Image: 13 News Now)

Rivers Casino Portsmouth made history as the first licensed, permanent casino to open in the Commonwealth on January 23, 2023.

Soon after its opening, Rivers Portsmouth discovered an alleged embezzlement scheme involving two newly hired employees, Marcus Baker and Joshua Thompson. The casino’s security team reportedly observed the two individuals stealing money from the count room where large amounts of cash are processed.

Law enforcement’s investigation revealed that Baker and Thompson stole approximately $14K in cash from the casino during their shifts.

In July, the state brought charges against Baker and Thompson for embezzlement of funds worth over $1,000.

Judge Expresses Frustration

During the preliminary hearing for Baker and Thompson’s case, attorney Lynette Hill, representing the state, expressed difficulties in assembling witnesses.

Judge Ottinger shared his frustration with Hill, questioning the lack of investigators in the case and the failure to communicate effectively with witnesses.

“Who would blame her? You have to do better than this,” remarked Ottinger, as reported by WAVY News. “This blows my mind as a former prosecutor. Don’t you have investigators?”

Ottinger emphasized that the witnesses are easily accessible and expressed disbelief at Hill’s shortcomings.

Hill is a deputy attorney in Stephanie Morales’ office. Morales issued a statement in response to Ottinger, highlighting the office’s commitment to justice and witness safety.

The office maintains clear directives for communication with witnesses in all cases. Despite unsuccessful attempts to reach the witness, our efforts continue,” the statement read.

The next preliminary hearing for Baker and Thompson’s case is scheduled for January 5, 2024.

Baker and Thompson were released on personal recognizance.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth has generated approximately $183.7 million in revenue from gamblers this year. The casino offers 1,461 slot machines, 81 table games, and a BetRivers Sportsbook.

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