Crime

Woman who stole $200,000 from Silver Reef Casino and made bomb threat sentenced

A Bellingham woman was sentenced to time served and two years supervised release Friday, Sept. 20, in U.S. District Court in Seattle after using her employee access to steal $200,000 from the Lummi Nation’s Silver Reef Casino.

Shannon Marie Morris, a Lummi Nation member, pleaded guilty to one count of theft by an employee of a gaming establishment on Native American lands in July after she stole the money from the vault on Nov. 24.

According to a Department of Justice press release, Morris was sentenced to 10 months in prison, which she has already served, and the supervised release.

According to the release, on Nov. 24 Morris:

Walked into the employee entrance at the casino at approximately 3 a.m.

Got another employee to let her into the cash vault.

Filled a bag with four bricks of cash totaling $200,000.

Told the employee in the vault not to push the panic button.

Ran to her car and drove away.

Called 911 claiming that a man with a gun had forced her rob the casino.

Said that the man claimed to have placed a bomb in the casino and would trigger it if she did not steal the money.

Claimed that the man had jumped out of the car with the money.

Because of the bomb threat, Lummi, Bellingham and Ferndale police, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI were forced to evacuate the hotel and casino, though a bomb was never found.

While being questioned by law enforcement, Morris’ statement changed several times, the release said, after she originally stated that the strange man with a gun held her and her child hostage to force her to steal money from the casino.

She later admitted being alone with her child in the car and to stealing the money, before leading law enforcement to where she had hidden the money in Ferndale near a tree on the side of the road.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
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