The former United Center worker caught scamming more than a half-million dollars out of his ex-employer was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a day behind bars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Bryan P. Charnot, 31, pleaded guilty earlier this year to wire fraud. He admitted he stole nearly $600,000 from the United Center by making 75 bogus refund claims on previously purchased tickets. He sent the refunds to his credit and debit cards.
Despite the large theft, Charnot’s lawyer asked U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso this month not to put him in prison. He explained that Charnot only stole the money after developing a “full-fledged gambling addiction.”
“He kept losing and felt crushed by the mounting debt, yet he could not stop gambling,” lawyer Thomas Weber wrote in a court filing.
Weber said Charnot used the money he stole from the United Center to cover his gambling debts. Charnot became convinced he could repay the company with future winnings, Weber said.
Since September 2017, Charnot has attended 29 Gamblers Anonymous meetings, according to Weber.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kaarina Salovaara said sparing Charnot a prison sentence would have suggested “that an almost $600,000 fraud from one’s employer over a 17-month period is not a grave offense.” She asked the judge to sentence Charnot to more than two years in prison.
As a part of his sentencing Wednesday, Charnot was also ordered to pay $598,098 in restitution. He has already paid $5,450 and is committed to making the arena whole, according to his lawyer.