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Serial casino burglar sentenced for stealing $20K in casino chips

A serial casino burglar will serve at least eight years in prison for stealing more than $20,000 in casino chips.

“They fixed a way to get a guilty verdict on me!” William Ferguson, 66, shouted at the judge during the virtual hearing Wednesday. “You are very evil, evil, cold-hearted dogs.”

Ferguson — who was told to stop talking over the judge multiple times during his outburst — was convicted by a jury in April of stealing from five casinos in 2019 and was sentenced as a habitual criminal, with a maximum of 20 years.

In a profanity-laced rant, Ferguson called the case a hoax and said authorities had no evidence against him. He argued that he could rehabilitate himself and asked to be transferred to veterans court.

But Deputy District Attorney Brianna Lamanna disagreed.

Ferguson has stolen or attempted to steal more than $150,000 in casino chips since the 1990s, she said. He also has been convicted of nine felonies in similar cases.

In that time, he has never gone more than a year outside of prison without committing another crime.

Though the theft of casino chips is normally a minor offense, the continual victimization of the casinos enhanced the crime, Lamanna said. She asked District Judge Monica Trujillo to impose a life sentence.

“When someone spends 26 years of their life living a life of crime, I do think that it’s appropriate,” Lamanna said. “When you victimize tourists in our town where tourists are our lifeblood.”

Ferguson’s attorney, Michael Sanft, had argued at trial that the casino chips should not be valued at face value because they were never cashed in at the casino cages.

“He’s obviously talented enough to take these chips off the table,” Sanft said. “But in terms of the stuff that was actually taken in these situations, it’s not to the level where we’re saying this guy is a threat to the economic engine of Nevada.”

Ferguson was captured on video surveillance in the casinos wearing a yellow-billed baseball cap and taking chips off of roulette tables. From January 2019 to June 2019, he stole casino chips from New York-New York, the Golden Nugget, the Palms, Binion’s and Wynn Las Vegas.

Trujillo chose to sentence him as a habitual criminal given the consistent nature of his crimes.

“This is a hard one because the habitual criminal statute proposes to deter repetitive behavior,” she said. “And I’m not sure how much more repetitive you can get with steadily increasing your wealth from people and businesses of Clark County.”

A hearing to set the amount of restitution that Ferguson must pay is set for Oct. 13.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

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