Man Sentenced For Role In Largest-Ever Colorado Casino Heist

Written By Phil West on 04/16/2024
A picture of a man stealing money for a story about a man getting sentenced in Colorado's largest-ever casino heist.

casinoA judge sentenced a 32-year-old Mexican citizen to 4 1/2 years in prison for his role in the largest-ever casino heist in Colorado history.

Juan Gutierrez-Zambrano pleaded guilty in March to one felony count and one misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.

Authorities initially charged Zambrano with two counts of felony theft of between $100,000 and $1 million. However, they dismissed those charges as part of a plea agreement.

Gutierrez-Zambrana collected stolen money

According to investigators on his case, his alleged co-conspirator, 45-year-old Sabrina Eddy, “stole 10 bricks of cash totaling $500,000 from the vault of the Monarch Casino in Black Hawk in March 2023.” She’s currently free on a personal recognizance bond and is awaiting trial in August on two counts of felony theft.

Colorado casinos are located in either Black Hawk, Cripple Creek or Central City. Legislators also legalized Colorado sports betting in 2019, but online casinos in Colorado aren’t happening anytime soon.

An earlier PlayColorado report noted that Eddy said she was contacted by someone posing as Monarch Casino’s operations lead. Another person allegedly posed as a cage manager and texted Eddy. The two reportedly convinced Eddy there was an issue with “a UPS order.” They required cash to avoid the company breaking its contract. Eddy delivered the cash to a contact (believed to be Gutierrez-Zambrano) in a hospital parking lot.

Eddy’s account, however, didn’t hold up. She allegedly failed a lie detector test.

Eventually, as the Daily Record reported, “Investigators connected Zambrano to the vehicles that were used when the money was exchanged at the hospital through license plate readers, surveillance and maintenance records, according to an affidavit filed against him.”

Proxy betting case at Monarch

In addition to Monarch being the location for the largest casino heist in state history, it gained attention in February 2023 for a proxy betting case involving three sportsbook employees making bets on behalf of customers. That occurred less than a month before the half-million-dollar heist. A Colorado-record settlement of $400,000 was paid after the sportsbook self-reported the issue.

As a result of the two incidents coming so closely together, Monarch agreed to tighten its ship. That included:

  • Auditing its internal controls
  • Implementing system upgrades to its sports betting platform
  • Improving its geolocation services to limit out-of-state bettors
  • Improving the vetting and monitoring of its employees
Photo by PlayColorado
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Phil West

Phil West is an Austin-based writer and editor who has been published in a wide range of publications throughout his career, including the Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times,, The Striker, and The Daily Dot. He's currently writing about Austin FC (and more generally, about MLS and world soccer) at Verde All Day, an independent Substack-hosted and subscriber-supported site. He's also a Senior Lecturer in The Writing Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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