Alleged Harveys thieves appear in court |

Alleged Harveys thieves appear in court

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

STATELINE — Two men who allegedly took about $400,000 from Harveys Resort and Casino waived their preliminary hearing during a brief Tuesday court appearance.

Jason Lawrence, 27, of Carson City and Stephen Johnson, 21, of Dayton wore suits for their appearance at Tahoe Township Justice Court. They will next appear as co-defendants on Aug. 25 at 9 a.m. in Minden’s District Court.

Johnson’s attorney, Calvin Dunlap from Reno, said the preliminary hearing was unnecessary. Steve Evanson, counsel for Lawrence, was not at the hearing.

A preliminary hearing brings witnesses to the stand. A judge uses the hearing to decide if enough evidence exists for a trial.

Dunlap said it is too early to speculate if the matter will got to trial.

“We’ll evaluate the case and see where the (district attorney) wants to go,” he said.

The two allegedly scammed Harveys using a plan where Johnson would obtain chips by filling out a credit marker. Lawrence, a former Harveys’ pit supervisor, allegedly would take the credit markers and put a wrong pit boss’ name on them, effectively giving free money to Johnson.

Investigators believe the scam began in December. The men were arrested in June.

Lawrence was charged with felony counts of burglary, grand theft, forgery and a misdemeanor count of conspiracy. Johnson is facing similar felony charges of burglary and theft and a misdemeanor count of conspiracy.

In April, Patricia Diaz, a “high-limit” Harrah’s Lake Tahoe dealer, was arrested for allegedly taking around $700,000 over about three years.

Diaz will appear at Tahoe Township Justice Court on Aug. 28 for a preliminary hearing.