PORTSMOUTH , Va. (WAVY) — A General District Court judge had little patience for the Commonwealth during a hearing Wednesday morning for two men charged with embezzlement from Rivers Casino July 12.
Marcus Baker, 36, and Joshoua Thompson, 29 each face one felony count of embezzlement. Judge Douglas Ottinger was upset after he described a letter he received from one of the Commonwealth’s witnesses, saying she is concerned and afraid to testify because the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office has not returned her calls.
“Who would blame her? Four months is too long,” Ottinger told Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Lynette Hill. “You gotta do better than this.”
Baker and Thompson handled money working in the Rivers count room, and although they face just one count each, court documents show they were observed on video taking money from the casino as many as eight times beginning in late June.
Police say Thompson took cash boxes from the count room and left the area in Baker’s pickup truck. Nearly $14,000 ended up missing from the Rivers Casino.
Hill told Ottinger she is missing a number of witnesses and did not yet have the casino’s surveillance video in the case, although her office said it’s up to General District Court to subpoena the witnesses.
“This blows my mind as a former prosecutor. Don’t you have investigators?” the judge asked. “We know where the witnesses can be found. It’s two exits down the highway from here.”
In a statement from the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office:
“This office has very clear directives for attorneys and support staff that are strictly adhered to regarding communication with witnesses in all cases. Multiple attempts were made to reach the witness, but they were unsuccessful. Still, our efforts have not ceased.
“The video that was referenced by the judge is in possession of the police department so it would be inappropriate for our office to offer a comment on its availability.
“This office remains committed to prioritizing justice by holding individuals accountable while protecting witnesses and ensuring the safety of our citizens.”
Meanwhile Rivers Casino spokeswoman Kelli Webb told 10 On Your Side that “Rivers Casino Portsmouth is cooperating fully with authorities. We have over a thousand surveillance cameras monitoring the property 24/7. The defendants are no longer employed at the casino.”
The hearing for Thompson and Baker on the embezzlement charges will now take place Jan. 5.