Prosecutors Drop Embezzlement Charges Against Four Winds Hartford Casino Worker



  • In August, a cash cage employee at Four Winds Casino in Hartford was charged with embezzlement in connection with a $700,000 scam.
  • Months later, Van Buren County prosecutors have dropped charges against the employee due to a lack of evidence.
  • The employee, Danika Young, who had been held in Van Buren County Jail on bond has since been released and will spend the holidays with her family.

Four Winds Casino was hit with one of the biggest cash cage scams in recent times when on July 30, its employee took $700,000 out of the facility. Danika Young who had been working at Four Winds Hartford for 16 years was subsequently charged with embezzlement. According to prosecutors at that time, she faced about 20 years in prison under Michigan laws and was remanded in jail.

However, in a positive turn of events for Young, she has now been freed and will be home with her family for the upcoming holidays. This comes after prosecutors were reported to have dropped charges since they could not produce concrete evidence nailing the employee.

Young’s Position Did Not Waver Through the Ordeal, Attorney Caleb Grimes Remarks 

38-year-old Young was a supervisor at the Four Winds Hartford Casino when she received a call to withdraw $700,000 from the casino’s cash cage. Mind you, she had worked in the cash cage and handled millions for as long as she could remember.

With the call appearing to come from within the casino line, she went ahead to deliver the cash to an unknown person in Gary, Indiana. According to her, the person at the other end of the phone call claimed to hold a superior position at the casino.

The single mother was subsequently apprehended and had been held for over four months since her arrest. However, Van Buren County prosecutors have now dropped charges against Young as they could not produce evidence of her connection with the embezzlement or any crime whatsoever.

“After talking with everybody, they were convinced that she didn’t do anything wrong and committed no criminal activity,” Caleb Grimes, Young’s attorney remarked.

Young is expected to now spend the holiday at her home after the ordeal. Her lawyer has reaffirmed that Young’s position did not change on her innocence throughout the four months.

“She is thrilled. Her family is thrilled. She feels extremely vindicated. Her position hasn’t wavered from the beginning that she didn’t do anything wrong,” Grimes further said in an interview with reporters.

Judge Had Earlier Denied Young a Personal Recognizance Bond 

Back in August, Young appeared before Judge Arthur H. Clarke III of the Van Buren County court. At her video arraignment, Young continued to maintain innocence, stressing that she had no prior criminal history.

“I’m very sorry for what happened. This is my first charge,” Young said.

Unfortunately, Young was refused a personal recognizance bond by the judge, despite providing evidence that she had family members and a child in Van Buren. The judge claimed that the suspect had a tendency to flee if the bond was permitted. This was further aggravated by the nature of the felony charge which attracted a 20-year imprisonment sentence. As a result, Young was held at the Van Buren County Jail on a $1 billion bond.

Search Continues for Mastermind of Allegedly Connected Nationwide Cash Cage Scams 

With Young now off the hook, prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation remain unsure of the identity of the perpetrators.

The Four Winds Casino incident was not in isolation, though. A few weeks before the theft was carried out, the National Indian Gaming Commission and other gaming security agencies issued a warning to all casinos about the prevalence of cash cage scams.

In September, Erik Gutierrez, a Las Vegas resident pled guilty to stealing over $1 million in cash from Circa Hotel and the Eureka Casino Resort in a pattern identical to Young’s experience.

Security agencies predict that the perpetrators of the crime used technology to “trick” phone connections within the casino to make it seem like the call came from an internal extension. Young had since corroborated this suspicion by stating that the call appeared authentic and from a valid casino phone line. Hence, her reason to follow the instructions of the caller.

As it stands, there are no suspects in the cash cage scam at Four Winds New Hartford. Nonetheless, authorities are actively involved in the case, but they will not be releasing any information pertaining to leads in the meantime.

Four Winds Casino is owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and operates one of the foremost Michigan online casinos. The casino began iGaming operations in the state back in February 2021.

Jessica is a news contributor to Gamble Online Michigan. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics but has over three years of experience working in the hospitality and gambling industry. Despite her core finance and investment banking background, she has been a casino feature writer for N1 Interactive Limited and multiple gambling affiliate sites. Her work has been featured on the bet365 blog, and Max Force Racing. She spends her time between Michigan and California, staying up-to-date on the latest industry developments