Four plead guilty to conspiracy in scam involving McDonald's promotional games

Saturday, September 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Four people pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in what prosecutors say was a $20 million embezzlement scam involving McDonald's promotional games.

So far, 21 people have been indicted in the theft and distribution of high-value game pieces from the fast-foot chain's promotional games, including Monopoly and Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

On Friday, four entered guilty pleas in federal court.

Gloria Brown, 43, of Jacksonville; Victor Marchitello, 52, of Harrison City, Pa.; Linda Baker, 48, of Westminster, S.C.; and Noah Dwight Baker Sr., 49, also of Westminster, face five years in prison and potential restitution _ $300,000 for Brown, $639,000 for Marchitello and nearly $1.5 million for the Bakers.

More arrests are expected within the next month, lead prosecutor Mark Devereaux said in Saturday's Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville.

Brown claimed a $1 million prize in 1997 and received $50,000 annual payments through the mail at her Jacksonville home. According to the plea agreement, she gave half the money to the couple who recruited her.

Marchitello claimed a $1 million prize winner in 1999, Noah Baker recruited several winners in 2000 and 2001, and Linda Baker helped her husband recruit a relative to collect a $500,000 prize, the plea agreements said.

The alleged mastermind, Jerome Jacobson of Lawrenceville, Ga., has pleaded innocent. The indictment alleges that since the late 1980s Jacobson, security director for a firm McDonald's had hired to run its Monopoly games, embezzled more than $20 million worth of winning game pieces.