Los Angeles Times
February 15, 2009
Debt Finally Topples A Las Vegas High Roller
Omar Siddiqui, a top executive at Fry's Electronics, was coveted and coddled by Las Vegas casinos. Now he faces fraud charges.
By Richard C. Paddock
"Siddiqui, who made $225,000 a year as a top Fry's Electronics executive, once lost $8 million in a day.
"It was not Siddiqui's only debt or even his largest. Court records indicate that the 43-year-old businessman gambled away as much as $167 million at casinos over the last decade. Yet even as he amassed huge IOUs, casinos around the country continued to lend him millions more.
"Siddiqui's debts ultimately caught up with him, and he now stands accused of masterminding one of California's biggest frauds. His case provides a view into the rarefied world of big-time gamblers and the lengths casinos go to attract them to their tables.
"Siddiqui's high-wire act began to unravel in October. A colleague went into his unoccupied office and found spreadsheets detailing millions of dollars in secret payments Siddiqui allegedly received from firms that sold products to Fry's. The co-worker scooped them up and took them to the Internal Revenue Service.
"On Dec. 19, two dozen federal agents descended on Fry's corporate offices in San Jose and marched Siddiqui away in handcuffs. Siddiqui, the IRS contends, financed his gambling by taking at least $65.6 million in kickbacks. Charged with nine counts of money laundering and wire fraud, he faces 140 years in prison. Fired by Fry's, the onetime computer salesman pleaded not guilty last month. He has declined to comment."