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Arneault, others say banks let woman embezzle thousands

By Chris Dickerson | Sep 29, 2015

NEW CUMBERLAND – A man who helped put West Virginia’s gaming industry on the map has filed a lawsuit claiming two prominent banks allowed a woman to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ted Arneault, his brother Patrick Arneault, ORCA Outdoors LLC and Century Energy Management Co. Inc. filed a complaint against Melissa Brnilovich, Barclays Bank PLC dba Barclayscard, PNC Bank, National Association as well as unknown individuals, banking institutions, credit card companies, businesses, corporations or associations on Sept. 14 in Hancock Circuit Court.

Ted Arneault is the former chairman, president and CEO of MTR Gaming Group Inc., which was a gaming company based in Chester that operated horse racing tracks and casinos including Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort. His brother also was heavily involved at Mountaineer.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs say they have bank accounts and/or credit cards with the defendant companies. They say Brnilovich “intentionally or negligently converted, diverted or embezzled plaintiffs funds from the plaintiffs without their authorization or permission” since 2013 until this year. She worked for the plaintiffs.

Brnilovich “was able to accomplish these acts because the Barclay defendants and PNC defendant failed to keep proper gate-keeping and account security procedures in effect as it relates to plaintiffs’ accounts,” the complaint states. “The Barclays and PNC defendants have failed to utilize their fraud protection benefits that should be available to the plaintiffs and have forced the plaintiffs to pay thousands of dollars to these defendants when the defendants’ own failure to protect plaintiffs’ accounts caused plaintiffs’ damages.”

The complaint says the banks collect fees for protective services and have a duty to protect customer accounts, but the plaintiffs claim they have had to reimburse or pay for these stole and misappropriated funds, causing “financial difficulty, embarrassment, collection activities and harassment, and hardship.”

The plaintiffs also claim the banks repeatedly misrepresented facts to them about the fraud investigation and about various transactions with Brnilovich.

“Defendants’ misrepresentations were made with the knowledge of their falsity, or with such utter disregard and recklessness as to whether such representations were true or false that knowledge may be inferred,” the complaint states. “They continued to permit the unauthorized use of plaintiffs’ accounts, and then advised plaintiffs that they are financially responsible for the continued unauthorized use of their accounts.”

The plaintiffs seek joint and several compensatory, general and special damages as well as exemplary and punitive damages. They also seek pre- and post-judgment interest, restitution and disgorgement of profits, court costs, attorney fees and other relief.

Last year, MTR merged with Eldorado Holdco LLC, forming Eldorado Resorts Inc. Ted Arneault now is Chairman of the Board of Diamondhead Casino Corporation and President and CEO of its Casino World Inc. subsidiary. The company is building a casino in Diamondhead, Miss.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Vincent S. Gurrera of Gurrera Law Offices PLLC in Weirton. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Ronald E. Wilson.

Hancock Circuit Court case number: 15-C-110

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