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SEMO professor pleads guilty to reduced charge in casino cheating case
With his guilty plea Wednesday, a Southeast Missouri State University professor said he wasn't cheating -- only trying to.
Roger Arpin, a longtime literature professor, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor that added "attempted to" to his original felony that alleged he was cheating at the blackjack tables during a visit to Isle Casino Cape Girardeau in December.
Prosecutors, in exchange for Arpin's plea, amended the felony, and its possible four-year prison sentence, down to one misdemeanor count of attempting to violate Missouri's riverboat gambling laws.
Judge Michael Bullerdieck sentenced Arpin to a $300 fine plus court costs.
Neither Arpin nor his lawyer, Trae Bertrand, wanted to comment Wednesday.
Arpin's lack of a criminal record was a factor in his decision to plead the case down, according to assistant prosecutor Frank Miller.
"The man is 66 years old and he didn't even have a speeding ticket, as far as I could tell," Miller said. "But, for whatever reason, he decided that night to try to cheat at the casino."
Arpin's arrest was the first gambling-related offense at the Cape Girardeau casino since it opened last year. Arpin was taken into custody after the casino alerted the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He was held until he posted a $7,500 bond the next day.
The casino's security staff told the arresting officer that Arpin was cheating at a blackjack table by "capping" bets, which is done by secretly adding to a bet after cards are dealt. The casino caught Arpin in an alleged act of cheating, warned him -- and paid him for one hand. The patrol was called when he reportedly did it again.
As Jill Alexander, a spokeswoman for the casino, declined to comment, Miller said his understanding is that Arpin is banned from the Cape Girardeau casino for life. He refused to speculate about what circumstances would make him reluctant to make a plea deal for future suspected casino cheaters.
"It would just depend on the case," he said. "But we're charged with pursuing the gambling violations that take place on that casino and this office will continue doing that."
Arpin has been an employee at Southeast since 1979. University officials, including president Ken Dobbins, have said they will not comment on what they view as a private matter.
777 N. Main St., Cape Girardeau, MO