Stratosphere Casino's Security Team Catches Cheating Duo

TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) - A police officer was arrested for allegedly cheating at blackjack with the help of a dealer at the Stratosphere casino in Las Vegas, authorities said.

Edgar Zermeno, 33, made about $1,000 during two nights of gambling earlier this month, said Keith Copher, chief of enforcement for the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

The officer allegedly was seen cheating on May 5 and May 6 by pit bosses and security officers who watched him on surveillance cameras, Copher said.

"The dealer was exposing his hole card to him" and paying even when Zermeno had a losing hand, Copher alleged.

Attempts to contact Zermeno and Lovinaria were unsuccessful, the Daily Breeze of Torrance reported Tuesday.

Zermeno and the dealer, Edgar Lovinaria, 52, of Henderson, Nev., were arrested and charged by Clark County prosecutors with two felony counts each of conspiracy and two counts each of cheating.

Each count carries a sentence of up to six years in prison. Their arraignment was scheduled for June 6, Deputy District Attorney Brian Rutledge said.

Torrance police have placed Zermeno on paid administrative leave and have begun an internal investigation, Lt. Brad Wilson said.

Zermeno, who was hired by the force in May 2003, would lose his job if he is convicted of a felony, Wilson said.