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By Dale Shelabarger, Updated:
In a new Inside Casino feature, we highlight unusual stories from the world of gambling and today we start with the Plainridge Poisoner. Setting our sights beyond the realm of online casinos, we unearth interesting and sometimes downright bizarre nuggets from the real world. In this week’s edition, we explore the story of Alexandria Martel, a casino janitor in Plainville, Massachusetts who was charged with poisoning two co-workers.
A story of workplace politics, the sort we can all relate to. One disgruntled casino employee took drastic measures to deal with her colleagues. Jealousy, snitching, vengeance, and attempted poisoning… with all the bombast of a Hollywood thriller, in real life, this story could only come out of middle America.
Alexandria Martel is a 23-year-old woman from Attleboro, Massachusetts, an early colonial settlement and the former home to some of the biggest jewel manufacturers in the world. These days, it is a rather more non-descript place. Positioned between the larger metropolitan centres of Providence, RI and Boston, the town has a population of just 45,000 people. Not the sort of place you’d expect to spawn characters of international intrigue.
The young woman found employment at the Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, just 7 miles north of her hometown. Plainridge Park began as a horse racing track in 1999, specialising in the slightly unusual sport of harness racing. Rather than riding directly on the saddle of the horse, jockeys ride on a sort of carriage harnessed to the horse like a small chariot.
Unusually for the United States, betting on horse racing and dog racing had been legal since 1934 in Massachusetts. Plainridge Park is one of two active facilities. However in 2011, further casino legislation was passed in the state, which allowed for the possibility of building three casinos and one slots parlour. Plainridge Park would begin construction of such a slots facility – though there could be no live dealer tables, electronic table games and slots could be provided. The casino’s slots parlour opened in June 2015.
Plainridge Park “Racino” became known for being a little slice of Las Vegas in suburban Massachusetts. Though the lack of live table games diminishes some of its authenticity, the venue has an upbeat ambience, regular live entertainment acts, and two restaurants, Fluties for casual meals, and Slacks for… you need slacks to get into the restaurant. According to reviews on TripAdvisor, the facility is generally well-liked by locals. The soda is free, the rooms are non-smoking, and the casino is very clean.
That final point can be put down to the hard work of Alexandria and her colleagues. But despite professional team success, this did not bond them.
According to Martel, she didn’t like her co-workers. Apparently conspiring against her, they went to management, accusing her of not cleaning the bathrooms as she was supposed to.
Then, to add insult to injury, at the end of a night shift, she was not invited to have breakfast with the others. Perhaps this was an oversight, a misunderstanding or even a logistical impossibility. Not so, according to Martel. She told police that she got very angry.
“The Drink Tasted Very Bad”
The casino is crawling with CCTV cameras to keep players and staff alike honest. The surveillance footage, which is yet to be released to the public, shows Martel standing in front of a cup. She then lifts her arm and appears to pour a liquid into a colleague’s drink. She allegedly repeated the action in another co-worker’s cup.
When the two co-workers returned, one a 39-year-old man, the other a 35-year-old woman, they noticed something very wrong with their sodas. The former spat his drink out into the sink, noting that it had a sour, “chemical” taste. The latter admitted that her drink tasted very bad so she “dumped her drink out.” The two of them reported the incident to the police, who arrived at the casino on Tuesday morning, May 22nd, to arrest Martel.
Thankfully, the two employees were unharmed, having to endure nothing more than a bad tasting beverage. But had they been the victims of a vicious attempted murder plot?
Not according to Martel, who was questioned by the police shortly after. She admitted to “pouring a small amount of yellow cleaner” into their cups. However, she only hoped they would “get nauseous” so she wouldn’t have to work with them the rest of the day.
Despite this, at her arraignment, Martel, the Plainridge Poisoner pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and attempted poisoning. She has been released on $500 bail. The most notable condition of her bail?
She is not to go anywhere near the casino.