Retail theft string behind Rio lockdown incident on Thursday

Haley Hintze
Published by:
Posted on 11/05/2021

Details in the surprising lockdown of the primary parking lot serving the Rio Convention Center on Thursday evening have emerged that expose most of the wild rumors surrounding the incident as false. Fast-spreading talk, primarily among poker players, centered on a supposed bomb threat made against the World Series of Poker. Other chatter focused on supposed drug trafficking.

Such rumors, Poker.org can now confirm, are incorrect. The man arrested by Las Vegas Metro Police Department officers on Thursday was described by officials speaking off the record as a long-time petty thief whose string of robberies and burglaries throughout the Las Vegas area caught up to him on Thursday.

The man now under arrest, 40-year-old Jeremy Francom of Spring Valley, Nevada, was seemingly identified through facial-recognition software in recent days. Francom had sweet-talked his way into very temporary employment — through the proverbial “friend of a friend” — with the PokerGO live-streaming operation ongoing at the Rio throughout the WSOP. Francom was being used as a spotter, helping to identify players. He was pressed into service as a temporary hire by PokerGo. Like many other poker-related operations, PokerGo has suffered from severe pandemic-related staffing shortages.

Sharp-eyed players, workers, and visitors to the WSOP on Thursday may have noticed an increased presence in LVMPD officers. Such visits by the LVMPD happen on occasional days throughout every WSOP, and they often include a tour by a drug-sniffing police dog. In this case, the LVMPD had both uniformed staff and undercover officers waiting for Francom, and they waited until a break in the event where Francom was working, allowing him to exit the Rio Convention Center’s main entrance. “All thanks to the police,” one official with knowledge of the situation said, regarding the officers’ patience in waiting for the right moment to make the arrest.

‘Fake device’ the reason for lockdown

Reports of a bomb threat were completely inaccurate, and it was purely poor timing that saw the arrest play out at the Rio. The previous robberies and burglaries allegedly committed by Francom included the possible use of an explosive device as an extortion-based threat. The arresting officers, as told to Poker.org by one anonymous source, searched Francom’s car, and discovered the possible device. That led to lockdown and the visit by Metro officers, who quickly determined the device was a fake — a “toy,” as one person described it.

Francom was specifically targeted for the arrest. Before at least five LVMPD officers tackled him outside the Rio, one of those officers identified him as “Jeremy,” according to one of the witnesses.

There is one small hitch in the larger tale as well. Arrest records available for Francom via Clark County’s online inmate search show his arrest on Thursday and initial court appearance earlier today. Francom appears to have been long sought by Vegas Metro, as he was charged with 20 separate counts, almost all being robbery or burglary.

Among that huge number of charges, however, some are described as “Burglary with Exploding Device,” or similar, a seeming reference to the fake bomb the officers found in Francom’s vehicle. Francom remains in custody at the Clark County Detention Center and faces bond of $20,000 or $40,000 on each of the 20 charges.

Worries about black eye for poker

One well-known figure mentioned to Poker.org that any report at all on the incident would reflect badly on the poker world. That’s thanks to some of the mainstream disdain that still exists among a certain segment of the populace. Here, though, the poker world and the WSOP were utterly innocent. In that light, accurately reporting the story likely represents a significant improvement over leaving false rumors about bomb threats in place.

Francom’s alleged crimes had nothing to do with poker or the WSOP, and his employment within the poker world lasted less than a single day. Some privately-expressed ire over the alleged “bomb threat” targeting the WSOP appears well-founded. No such threat was ever made. Nor did any of Francom’s alleged thefts involve the Rio, the WSOP, or PokerGO. Francom, by all appearances, was doing legitimate work during his few hours at the Rio on Thursday, though that ended up inconveniencing a couple of hundred WSOP players and staff for a couple of tense hours.

Featured image source: PokerGO