The Diamond Casino boat has been missing from its dock on Wilmington Island for about a month, and the U.S. Attorney unsealed indictments for the general manager and the two captains.
The indictment charged Gregory Sicilia from Savannah, Georgia, Jeffrey Thompson from Savannah, Georgia, and John Sternberg from Green Cove Springs, Florida with operating an illegal gambling business aboard the Diamond Royale, a casino cruise ship which operated in the Savannah area. Sicilia worked as the General Manager of the Diamond Royale; Thompson and Sternberg were two of the ship's captains. Marine Charters, LLC and Diamond Casino Cruise, LLC, corporate owners and operators of the casino cruise ship, were also charged in the indictment.
According to the allegations in the indictment, the Diamond Royale, also known as the Sun Cruz VII, was a 184-foot casino cruise ship docked on the Bull River in Chatham County, Georgia. Casino games aboard the Diamond Royale included slots, poker, craps, blackjack and roulette. It is alleged that from July 2010 until November 2011, the defendants engaged in illegal gambling by operating the casino exclusively in the waters of Georgia and South Carolina, where such gambling is illegal. During the period covered by the indictment, the defendants generated over $7 million in criminal proceeds from the illegal gambling operation.
The casino's corporate offices were in a shopping center adjacent to the dock. The landlord there says none of the employees have been seen for months and they are four months behind on rent.
"They basically left the premises and from that point on we've had minimal contact. I had one conversation with the owner where he promised to send the rent, but unfortunately that didn't come," property owner Keith Gay said.
The captains and manager have not been arrested, but are expected to appear in court.