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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Utah ‘high roller’ accused of laundering drug money through casino skips out on trial

Utah ‘high roller’ accused of laundering drug money through casino skips out on trial
First Published Nov 07 2014
A judge has issued an arrest warrant for a Utah man once considered a "high roller" at West Wendover casinos after he failed to show up for a trial on charges of money laundering and tax evasion.
State prosecutors say Robert Thomas Rust spent more than $384,000 on gambling in Nevada over two years — money they believe was actually the proceeds of an illegal drug operation.
Rust, 34, was scheduled for a three-day jury trial in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court beginning Wednesday, but failed to appear.
Judge Robin Reese issued a $250,000 warrant for Rust’s arrest.
It wasn’t immediately clear why Rust missed his court date. Telephone messages left for Rust’s defense attorney, Richard Gale, were not returned. A spokeswoman for the Utah Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, says the case will move forward once Rust is located.
Rust had pleaded not guilty to one second-degree felony count each of second-degree felony money laundering and third-degree felony tax evasion. The charges carry penalties of one to 15 years and one to five years in prison, respectively.
In court papers, prosecutors allege that between January 2011 and May 2012, Rust and his wife, Susana Montano Rust, 40, used slot machines at the Wendover Nugget Hotel and Casino to launder about $384,569 in funds, which the couple allegedly acquired through the sale of methamphetamine from their home in Sandy.
During one month alone, Rust pumped more than $150,000 into casino slots. The practice of running criminal proceeds through a casino and claiming the money as gambling winnings — which is taxable income — has been commonly used, prosecutors say.
Charging documents also say the couple could never legitimately have had so much money for gambling. State and federal tax returns for 2011 show Rust worked at a restaurant earning about $18,700 annually. Susana Rust earned just about $8,000 annually, working for a commercial cleaning company.
Rust has not been charged with any drug crimes, nor has his wife, although she was also charged with money laundering and tax evasion. Court records indicate Susana Rust has never been arrested.
Court papers also show the Utah Attorney General’s Office is seeking to seize $37,154.37 and one of the Rust’s vehicles.
BOOKING DATE: Sept 15 2014

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