Embezzlement Charges Dropped Against New Hartford Casino Employee

Written By Dan Holmes on December 8, 2023
Bird escaping from a cage as embezzlement charges are dropped against New Hartford casino employee

Charges have been dropped against a cash cage employee at Four Winds Hartford Casino, say Van Buren County prosecutors.

Thirty-eight-year old Danika Young, a supervisor in the cash cage at the casino in southwest Michigan, was arrested July 31 for taking $700,000 out of the casino and delivering it to an unknown individual in Gary, IN.

Details of the Four Winds case

Specifically, Young, a Coloma native, claims she received a phone call at the cage that appeared to come from a line inside the casino. She was instructed to remove the cash and drive to Indiana to deliver it to an unnamed person. Allegedly, the voice on the phone claimed to be a person of authority for the Michigan casino.

Law enforcement apprehended Young, a single mother who has worked for more than 16 years for the casino, in Gary. She was held for more than four months, facing several felony charges and as much as 20 years in prison. All along, Young maintained her innocence, claiming the money was delivered to a stranger. The cash has not been recovered. And authorities, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have not released information on leads in the strange case.

Four Winds New Hartford is owned and operated by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

Charges dropped, Young is now free and home for the holidays

Young is now free and has returned to her family in time for the holidays. She had been held on $1 million bond in Van Buren County Jail.

“She is thrilled. Her family is thrilled. She feels extremely vindicated. Her position hasn’t wavered from the beginning that she didn’t do anything wrong,” said Caleb Grimes, an attorney for Young, in an interview with WOOD-TV.

Weeks before the incident, a warning was issued by the National Indian Gaming Commission and gaming security organizations. It warned of a similar scheme that ended with the loss of hundreds of thousands at Circa Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

It’s possible that thieves may have used technology to “spoof” the phone system at Four Winds New Hartford to make it appear as if the phone call came from a legitimate extension. Young insisted that the call seemed authentic, which was why she followed the instructions and removed the cash.

“I’m very sorry for what happened,” Young said during her July arraignment. “This is my first charge.”

Ultimately, according to Young’s attorney, prosecutors did not find evidence that she had been involved in a criminal scheme.

“After talking with everybody, they were convinced that she didn’t do anything wrong and committed no criminal activity,” Grimes added.

Photo by PlayMichigan
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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a Michigan resident who writes about sports betting, sports media, casino and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters.

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