Harper Woods man who wore disguises in casino scheme pleads guilty to fraud

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A Harper Woods man who donned a prosthetic face mask and other disguises in a scheme to steal more than $125,000 from casino patrons has pleaded guilty to wire and identity fraud, federal officials announced Tuesday.

John Christopher Colletti entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Linda Parker in Detroit. Sentencing is scheduled for 11 a.m. July 7. 

The 56-year-old was arrested in March 2020 at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort in Mayetta, Kansas, after raising suspicion about numerous withdrawals there.

John Christopher Colletti's disguises included two that made him appear to be an elderly man, according to the FBI.

Investigators had pursued Colletti since 2019 and accused him of having accessed accounts in the names of several victims using Global Payments Gaming Services kiosks at casino properties in at least two states, including the MGM Grand in Detroit.

Colletti targeted patrons of the Global Payments Gaming Services VIP Preferred Program, then "used names, driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of Social Security Numbers assigned to known individuals in order to access one or more account in those individuals’ names," authorities said Tuesday. "Upon gaining access to these accounts, Colletti initiated numerous transactions, withdrawing thousands of dollars from these accounts."

During the transactions, which defrauded patrons of an estimated $125,740, Colletti tried to conceal his identity through wearing full prosthetic face masks. He also had pieces of personally identifiable information for approximately 300 identities, federal officials said.

Investigators found these counterfeit licenses while arresting John Christopher Colletti.

“This defendant went to extraordinary lengths to hide his identity in order to steal others identities and money,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin. “I commend the work of the FBI agents for tracking Colletti down and helping bring him to justice.”

Global Payments Gaming Services assumed the loss on behalf of its VIP Preferred Program patrons. As part of his guilty plea, Colletti is required to pay restitution to the company.

"John Colletti stole the identities of dozens of innocent people, dragging them all into his criminal scheme," said Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “The impacts of identity theft are serious and far-reaching for victims, and the FBI will work hard to ensure anyone who engages in this type of conduct is held accountable.”

Colletti faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charge. The mandatory minimum sentence for the identity fraud charge is two years imprisonment, federal officials said Tuesday.