A university professor was in a Jackson courtroom Monday on charges that accuse him of cheating during a weekend visit to Cape Girardeau's new casino.
Longtime Southeast Missouri State University literature professor Roger C. Arpin, 66, was arrested at Isle Casino Cape Girardeau on Friday night by the Missouri State Highway Patrol on one felony count of violating Missouri's riverboat gambling laws. Arpin was kept in custody at the Cape Girardeau County Jail until he posted a $7,500 bond Saturday, according to online court documents.
Arpin faces allegations that he was cheating at a blackjack table just before he was arrested for "capping" his bets. Capping is gambling lingo for adding to a bet after the cards are dealt. Arpin was arrested after casino employees told police that they saw -- and recorded -- him in the act.
Hired in 1979, Arpin is an assistant professor in the university's English Department. This past semester, he taught one English and two literature courses.
The cheating charge carries a possible punishment of up to four years in prison on conviction. Additionally, state statutes call for anyone who is convicted of any cheating charge to be barred for life from the state's 13 riverboat casinos.
Jill Alexander, spokeswoman for Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., referred all questions to the Missouri Gaming Commission.
Arpin's is the first gambling-related arrest since the casino opened Oct. 30 in downtown Cape Girardeau, according to gaming commission spokeswoman LeAnn McCarthy. Arpin joins the 44 others who have been charged with cheating-related offenses across the state so far this year, McCarthy said.
The court arraignment took place Monday afternoon at the Cape Girardeau Courthouse, where Judge Gary Kamp accepted Arpin's not guilty plea and set a preliminary hearing for 11 a.m. Jan. 8. Trae Bertrand, Arpin's Cape Girardeau lawyer, declined to comment following the brief proceeding.
There were no responses to messages left Monday at Arpin's home and his campus office in the Grauel Building. University officials also were staying mum, including Arpin's department chairwoman Carol Scates and university president Ken Dobbins. Through an assistant, Dobbins called Arpin's case a personnel matter that he would not discuss with the media.
According to a probable-cause statement filed by the patrol's Sgt. Darryl Suhr, Arpin's 7 p.m. arrest was preceded by warnings from the dealer and the pit supervisor. Arpin was allowed to finish that hand and received the payout, the statement said.
A half-hour after the warning, the statement, says Arpin was seen capping another bet at the same table by the casino's surveillance department, which alerted the dealer, and Arpin was not given a payout for that hand.
The surveillance department then alerted authorities. The patrol obtained video footage of the alleged violations, according to the patrol's statement.
777 N. Main St., Cape Girardeau, MO