Former Director for Penn National Facing Charges For Stealing

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The old saying comes in to play from time to time when an employee takes advantage of their employer. In the gaming world, it recently came to light that a former official of Penn National Gaming is facing several charges for using stealing company gift cards totally $75,000. Denise M. Bitler held the position of Director of Benefits for the company from October 20147 until summer 2019. It was discovered that gift card prizes for employees had been stolen and used by Bitler over an extended period of time.

The Scheme

Bitler was in charge of the wellness program for the casino operator. The program offered employees prizes in the form of gift cards for accomplishing wellness goals. The gift cards were given in amounts of $25 or $50. The employer purchased the cards to give to employees as they reached certain wellness milestones.

Detectives in Berk County approached Penn National this past July due to Bitler’s activity. An investigation was started, and it was discovered that she had been stealing the cards for around five years.

Detectives uncovered a pattern of activity, revealing that Bitler was the one who ordered, maintained and distributed the gift cards based on the program. The cards were supposed to be given to human resource officers of the casinos and racetracks owned by Penn National. The officers would then give the cards to employees who reached their goals.

Instead, Bitler chose to use several gift cards to cover medical bills as well as pay for vacations and buy items for her personal use. The company believes that Bitner took around $75,350 with the fraud scheme.

Additional Claims

During the investigation, detectives were also able to uncover that for two years, Bitler was claiming on medical enrollment forms that she and her family members did not smoke. This is untrue and cost the company an additional $1,200 a year. By filing the false claim, Bitner was saving around $50 a month per family member.

Penn National has now filed several claims against their former Director of Benefits, including theft by deception, access device fraud, theft by failure to make disposition of funds, claiming stolen property and more.

Once the charges were filed, Bitner surrendered the next day. The fraudulent behavior affected employees as well as the company in general. Penn National is a large gaming company that operates more than 40 properties in the United States, within 19 jurisdictions. They have more than 50,000 slot machines in operation, 1,300 table games and over 8,000 hotel rooms.

It is unclear as to how quickly a case against Bitner will progress. The investigation uncovered plenty of evidence so that the company has a strong case against their former employee. Since she surrendered so quickly, there is little doubt that Bitner will be fighting against the charges levied against her.

More information should be provided on the matter as the case moves through the court system.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.