St. Helena deputies arrest 3 in Whistling Pines Casino robbery

Zeblin Cummings
Zeblin Cummings

Detectives arrested a casino manager and two other men in the armed robbery of the Whistling Pines Casino, authorities with the St. Helena Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed Friday night.

The Whistling Pines Casino manager is accused of setting up the robbery of his own place of employment on Jan. 29, said Joe Chaney, chief of detectives for the Sheriff’s Office.

In that robbery, one of the men forced employees at gunpoint to the rear of the casino where he had them open the safe and give him what was reported to be more than $150,000 in cash, Chaney said, adding that nobody was hurt during the incident.

The robbery and getaway in a pickup, which was driven by a third man, were captured by the casino’s surveillance cameras, the chief of detectives said.

The casino manager made the call to 911, but the subsequent investigation provided evidence that the manager had set the robbery up with one of the men, Chaney said.

Chaney said detectives began making arrests in the case Thursday. Authorities said they were able to recover only about $1,000 of the money taken from the casino, which is located at 325 La. 10.

Chaney identified the casino manager as John Sinagra.

Sinagra was booked as a principal to armed robbery, Chaney said.

The alleged gunman, Zeblin Cummings, was booked with armed robbery, while the alleged driver of the truck, John Sims, was booked with being a principal to armed robbery, Chaney said.

All three men are residents of Kentwood, authorities reported.

Chaney said Cummings sometimes gambled at the casino, but that Sims was not connected with the establishment.