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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Former Mirage Employee Sentenced

3 December 2004

LAS VEGAS -- A federal magistrate judge in New York on Thursday sentenced a former employee of the Mirage to six months of probation for illegally accessing confidential tax information about an individual's earnings.

Eugene Harding, a former FBI agent in Rochester, N.Y., who later joined the Mirage as corporate security manager, pleaded guilty in July to a federal charge that he conspired with a Social Security Administration official to access the information. Harding was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service and fined $3,000.

Federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Rochester office charged Harding with conspiring to access computer records from July 1998 to December 1999. Harding left Mirage Resorts around the time of the company's 2000 buyout by MGM Grand Inc.

Harding's attorney could not be reached for comment.

Harding called Social Security employee Marc Remillard in 1999 and Remillard that day "ran a series of queries in the computer of the Social Security Administration regarding an individual R.L. and provided information concerning wages to Eugene Harding," according to the government's complaint.

The identity of the individual, R.L., wasn't disclosed.

Federal prosecutors said Harding and Remillard accessed information on several people from 1998 to 1999 but only one incident was needed to craft a charge. Remillard in September was sentenced to six months of probation, 50 hours of community service and a $1,500 fine.

The incident is similar in nature to a federal lawsuit filed in Las Vegas in 2001 against the Mirage, Harding and another Mirage executive. In the suit, a gambler claimed Mirage officials paid an IRS employee for his 1995, 1996 and 1997 tax returns to determine the amount of casino credit to extend to him. The case was dismissed in 2002 after a judge determined that the Mirage officials weren't government workers and didn't fall within the categories required to make disclosure of personal tax records a crime.

Keith Copher, chief of the Gaming Control Board's enforcement division, said Nevada regulators investigated to determine how far up the chain of command Harding's indiscretions went. Copher said the problems were isolated to Harding and that regulators have closed the book on his case.

"We're familiar with the (recent) case and we knew that some court action was going to take place, but no, we're not going any further with it," he said.