A Utah man convicted of drug and money laundering charges for a scheme that pumped about $400,000 in drug money through West Wendover, Nev., slot machines will spend up to 20 years in prison for his crimes.
A jury convicted Robert Rust, 35, of one count of second-degree felony money laundering, one third-degree felony count of distribution of a controlled substance and two counts of third-degree felony tax evasion in May.
On Monday, 3rd District Court Judge Paul Parker ordered Rust, of Sandy, serve a prison term of one to 15 years on the money laundering count and terms of zero to five years on each of the other charges, court records show.
Parker ordered the terms for the three lesser felonies be served concurrently. However, he made them consecutive to the punishment for money laundering charge. That means Rust could spend up to 20 years in the Utah State Prison.
Court papers say Rust and his wife, Susana Montano Rust, 41, used slot machines at the Wendover Nugget Hotel and Casino to launder $384,569 — funds investigators say the couple allegedly acquired through the sale of methamphetamine from their home in Sandy between January 2011 and May 2012.
Investigators found that in one month alone, Rust pumped more than $150,000 into casino slots, the documents say. The practice of running criminal proceeds through a casino and claiming the money as gambling winnings has been commonly used, prosecutors say, however such funds are considered taxable income.
Charging documents contend the Rusts could never legitimately have had so much money from gambling. State and federal tax returns for 2011 show Rust worked at a restaurant earning roughly $18,700 annually. Susana Rust worked for a commercial cleaning company, and earned only about $8,000 annually, the documents state.
Rust was not originally charged with any drug crimes, when prosecutors first filed the case in 2013. He had been scheduled for a trial last November, but failed to appear. He was arrested in January.
Prosecutors had also charged Susana Rust as a co-defendant in her husband's case, but has never been arrested. A warrant for her arrest is outstanding.
Prosecutors: Casino 'high rollers' from Sandy gambled $346,000 in drug money
By Janelle Stecklein The Salt Lake Tribune
Published February 21, 2013
A pair of well-known West Wendover casino "high rollers" from Sandy, who spent more than $384,000 at a Nevada casino over two years, were actually gambling proceeds generated from an illegal drug operation, according to documents filed Wednesday in 3rd District Court.
Robert Thomas Rust, 33, and his wife, Susana Montano Rust, 39, are charged in 3rd District Court with one count each of second-degree felony money laundering and third-degree felony tax evasion.