When a key witness in a major Pa. casino fraud case was found dead in a Wilkes-Barre creek Saturday, suspicions went into overdrive.
But according to the Luzerne County Coroner, the cause of 28-year-old Matthew Crane’s death wasn’t nefarious, but rather bad luck.
As the Citizens Voice newspaper reports, Chief Deputy Coroner Dan Hughes said an autopsy conducted Monday determined Crane drowned after accidentally falling from a railroad trestle on Saturday.
More from the Citizens Voice:
Wilkes-Barre police Cmdr. Joe Coffay, the acting police chief, said he did not know why Crane decided to walk on the tracks or what exactly caused him to fall.
“All we can say is that for some unknown reason he began walking from point A to his destination at point B,” Coffay said. “He chose to walk the tracks and in the process fell into the water, causing him to drown.”
Crane, of Shavertown, Pa., informed authorities in 2015 about a scheme to defraud the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino of hundreds of thousands of dollars through free slots play with the use of duplicated player cards and personal information numbers. At the time, Crane was working as a table dealer there.
As a result, police in January 2016 charged Robert Pellegrini, a former casino vice president, and Mark Heltzel, a frequent casino patron, with theft and related charges in connection with the scheme, the Citizens Voice reports, adding:
At the time he reported the scheme, Crane was romantically involved with Rochelle Poszeluznyj, a beverage server at the casino who conspired with Pellegrini and Heltzel and was also charged, according to a police affidavit.
Ultimately, all three pleaded guilty to federal money-laundering conspiracy charges and were ordered to split restitution of $420,147.