Monthly Archives: January 2011

Largest Law-Enforcement Mob Bust in History made Possible by Illegal Gambling

Often times organized crime bust are a result of alleged mobsters not paying taxes or due to some type of racketeering.  Occasionally those arrests are the result of murder charges.  However, most of the time when reading about organized crime, illegal gambling is mentioned as the reason for arrest.  An online source is reporting on the largest mob bust in history and illegal gambling is sited as one of the main charges used to facilitate this historic event:

It is being called the biggest mobster roundup and, when all is said and done, the single most aggressive organized crime bust to ever take place in New York City. The charges range from gambling to racketeering to murder.  More than 100 suspected mob associates were being arrested throughout the early morning hours Thursday as part of several federal investigations.  Law-enforcement officials said members and associates of all five New York mafia families – as well as New Jersey’s DeCavalcante family – are among those being arrested, NBC New York reported.  Other families included the Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, Bonanno and Colombo.

And for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


A Brief Look at Crime 01/17 – 01/23

Reno man pleads guilty to strangling wife to death over gambling debts

An unemployed Reno man accused of strangling his wife because she called him a “coward” for gambling away their savings has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Following the killing, Kung confessed to police he strangled his wife during a dispute about his secret gambling habit depleting their finances.  Kung had approached an officer at the Second Street Reno Police Department station and said “I’ve done a bad thing. I’ve killed my wife.” According to court records, Lew worked two jobs as a local waitress while her husband had quit his job as a Chinese restaurant cook in April. Kung told detectives he had been hiding his gambling problem from his wife, that left them in debt of $20,000.

Lobbyist Massey headed toward prison

Acknowledging his admission of guilt will send him to prison, Montgomery lobbyist Jarrod Massey asked the court to give him a prison bunk. He’s due to be sentenced in September, but has asked the court to allow him to check into prison now to begin serving whatever time the judge will then impose.  Massey was one of even defendants named in an indictment announced in October in alleged vote buying scheme in the Alabama Legislature. Prosecutors convinced Massey to cooperate with them in December as he pled guilty to five bribery and one conspiracy charge. The deal included having prosecutors drop 10 other pending charges.

Several counties have constitutional amendments making electronic bingo legal within their jurisdictions. Some state officials, like Governor Bob Riley, say it’s illegal.  He launched an Anti-Illegal Gambling Task Force to threaten the operations saying Alabama law made it illegal to possess gambling machines in Alabama and they confiscated hundreds of machines. However, not a single arrest was made for the alleged violation of the law.  Massey’s job was to encourage lawmakers to pass a bill to untangle the legal spaghetti surrounding electronic bingo. Prosecutors say he tried to do it by conspiring to bribe people.

Gambling Activities May Have Played Role In Man’s Death

Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico told News 8 that he is looking into whether John Troutman’s gambling activities may have played a role in his stabbing death.  The 74-year-old Swatara Township man was convicted in the early 1990s of bookmaking, Marsico said.  Troutman’s longtime girlfriend, Faye Sue Lassiter, found his body in the kitchen of his home Tuesday night. Investigators said signs of a struggle were found. Troutman suffered stab wounds to the head and neck.

Rio ordered to return $471,000 in gambling losses

The administrator of a bankrupt Illinois company won a $471,250 judgment Thursday against a Las Vegas casino after complaining officials at the firm used company funds to pay gambling debts while it was insolvent. The judgment was entered against Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s Rio hotel-casino in favor of William Brandt Jr., liquidating administrator of Equipment Acquisition Resources Inc. of Palatine, Ill. Equipment Acquisition Resources (EAR) collapsed in October 2009 after it “engaged in a massive fraud by which it sold equipment at inflated prices and leased the equipment back from various lenders,” Brandt said in court papers.

In hopes of recovering funds for creditors owed $175 million, Brandt in the bankruptcy case filed adversary complaints against several organizations including the Rio, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Wynn Las Vegas and the Luxor — all on and near the Las Vegas Strip. The complaints say that while managing EAR, executives Sheldon Player, his wife, Donna Malone, and Mark Anstett had EAR send money to the casinos to cover gambling debts and that these payments amounted to “fraudulent transfers” as EAR received nothing of value in return for the money.

Impeached federal judge Porteous surrenders Louisiana law license, resigns from practicing law

Louisiana federal judge who was removed by Congress last month has voluntarily surrendered his law license.  The Louisiana Supreme Court on Friday said G. Thomas Porteous elected to permanently resign from practicing law.  On Dec. 8, the U.S. Senate convicted Porteous on four articles of impeachment and approved a motion barring him from holding future federal office. U.S. House prosecutors said gambling and drinking problems led Porteous to begin accepting cash and other favors from attorneys and bail bondsmen who had business before his court. The New Orleans native was a state judge before President Bill Clinton appointed him to the federal bench in 1994.

Man Jumps To Death At Imperial Palace

Police are calling the death of a man in a fall outside a Las Vegas Strip hotel an apparent suicide.  Las Vegas police Lt. Patrick Charone tells the Las Vegas Sun the man died in the fall between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday outside the Imperial Palace.  Charone says the body fell several stories before landing in a courtyard between the Imperial Palace and Harrah’s Las Vegas towers. The Review-Journal reported the case looked like a suicide.

Fatal shooting over gambling debt referred to grand jury

The fatal shooting of a robbery suspect trying to retrieve an alleged gambling debt in southwest Houston will be referred to a Harris County grand jury. Police say the suspect, angry from a gambling loss from a pool game several days earlier, went to the victim’s residence. The suspect beat on the front door, and rang the doorbell several times.  The victim got out of bed, retrieved a pistol and went to the door.  As he opened the door, he recognized the suspect as a long-time acquaintance and stepped out to talk to him.   The suspect demanded his money again, referring to the pool game.  When the victim refused, the suspect pulled out a pistol and pointed it at the victim and demanded his money.  The victim produced his pistol and fired several times, striking the suspect.  The suspect then collapsed in the front yard.

Gambler found hanging in casino restroom

A habitual gambler was found dead hanging in a toilet of Kangwon Land, Korea’s only casino open to locals, in Gangwon Province on Jan. 15 in an apparent suicide, police said Thursday.  The 55-year-old man, identified by his surname Han, left a suicide note in his house, saying he was distressed by the gambling debts of about 360 million won ($321,629). A bus driver, Han frequented the casino on weekends and holidays, although his family tried to stop him from gambling. According to the police, he visited the casino 120 times over the past three years.

And for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


New Jersey to regulate online gambling; a legal battle is sure to ensue

Casino Watch Focus last reported that online gambling would remain illegal, as lame-duck session efforts by Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried’s gambling bill never materialized.  However, the focus has been on the federal level and several state legislatures have been debating legalizing state online gambling bills.  An online gambling website is reporting that New Jersey has become the first state to pass legislation attempting to regulate state online gambling:

In the race to become the first state to regulate online gambling, New Jersey has won. Lawmakers in both the Senate and the Assembly overwhelmingly passed legislation Monday that will bring poker, blackjack, and other popular casino games to the Internet.

In a rare show of solidarity, Democrats and Republicans came together to pass the online gambling bill. The Senate passed the bill 34-2, while it passed the Assembly by a 63-11 vote. Now, all that is left between Atlantic City casinos and their customers at home will be the signature of Governor Chris Christie.

There is a chance that the bill will be rejected, as Gov. Christie is a Republican and will most likely face political pressure to uphold the Republican lead efforts to keep online gambling illegal at the federal level.  However, he has been vocal about his support for expanded gambling and if the bill gets signed into law, they will almost definitely be facing an uphill battle:

The federal laws will create a stumbling block for New Jersey. While states have the right to create their own laws, New Jersey will have to be careful of how they regulate the Internet gaming industry. One key factor will be monitoring to ensure that only New Jersey residents gamble at the online sites.

This legislation will influence the way other state legislatures’ approach the issue.  Keep reading for updates on this situation, and for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION.


A Brief Look at Crime 01/10 – 01/16

Theft to fund gambling nets jail

A 58-year-old Port Hardy woman who stole more than $400,000  from Softball B.C. and lost it all gambling, has been sentenced to  three years in prison. Elliott stole $406,731.01 by making 173 transfers from Softball  B.C. to her own account.  The theft was discovered by a newly hired vice-president of finance  who confronted her, forcing Elliott to confess. “She then said that she took the money and gambled, thinking that  she could win and pay the money back. Of course, she lost all the  money. She said that she ended up taking more and more to try and  get back what she had lost. She described herself . . . as a  gambling addict and a thief.”

Woman held at Conn. casino on trafficking charges

A woman accused of participating in a crime ring that smuggled Korean women to work in brothels across the northeastern United States has been arrested while gambling inside a casino, federal authorities said Monday. An Soon Kim, who recently was profiled on “America’s Most Wanted,” had been sought since August 2006, when authorities swept up more than 30 other people charged with involvement in the trafficking ring.

The staff of the Uncasville casino had been on the lookout for the 53-year-old Kim since an employee from the slot machine floor saw the “America’s Most Wanted” television program and recognized her as a repeat customer. Kim’s file was flagged, and when she returned on Friday the security staff notified state police, casino executive vice president Ray Pineault said.

Marquet International Annual Report on Embezzlement Released

Marquet International Ltd. announced today that it has released The 2010 Marquet Report On Embezzlement – its annual study of major embezzlement cases in the United States. The study examined 485 major embezzlement cases active in the US in 2010 – those with more than $100,000 in reported losses.

Some noteworthy findings from the 2010 study include:

  • The average loss was nearly $1 million
  • The most common embezzlement scheme involved the forgery or  unauthorized issuance of company checks
  • Two-thirds of the incidents were committed by employees who held  finance & accounting positions
  • The average scheme lasted more than 4½ years
  • The average prison sentence for major embezzlers was just under 4 years
  • Nearly 2/3 of all incidents involved female perpetrators
  • Nearly 20 percent of all losses were inflicted upon financial  institutions

“Sadly, 2010 was a banner year for employee theft in the United States,” said Christopher T. Marquet, CEO of Marquet International. “It is staggering how much money was stolen from companies last year by their employees, spanning many years in some cases before getting caught,” he said.  Gambling is a clear motivating factor in driving some major  embezzlement cases.

IMG Head Ted Forstmann Opens Up About Gambling Scandal

Ted Forstmann is the Chairman and CEO of IMG Worldwide, which is a global  entertainment, sports and media company representing the likes of Tiger Woods and Roger Federer.  In recent months he has come under intense scrutiny after being named in a lawsuit that claims Forstmann facilitated gambling activities that could have potentially changed the outcome of sporting events such as tennis.

Forstmann has denied such allegations, the most damning of which was his having raised a bet from $10,000 to $40,000 after receiving “insider information” on a tennis match featuring IMG represented Roger Federer. The NCAA and pro tennis bodies have since banned IMG’s nearly 3,000 worldwide employees from making bets on college sports, even March Madness office pools, though they found that Forstmann himself had not committed any violations.

2 Israelis extradited to US on murder charges

Israeli police say two suspected leaders of one of the country’s most powerful crime families are being extradited to the U.S. to face murder, drug and racketeering charges. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says U.S. marshals escorted brothers Itzhak and Meir Abergil onto a plane to Los Angeles. Israel arrested the men in 2008 after a U.S. court charged them with using a San Fernando Valley gang to distribute 1 million ecstasy pills and paying a gang member to kill a man for stealing a drug shipment. Police say the Abergils head a powerful crime syndicate with interests in drugs and gambling.

Woman faces jail for theft from employer

A 60-year-old Winnipeg woman is facing a possible three-year prison term following a decade-long fraud that saw her pilfer $450,000 from her employer. “She took as much as the profit was in some years, maybe more,” owner Stan Vrsnik was quoted as saying in a victim impact statement read out in court. The losses “kept Robin Electric from growing and reaching its full potential,” daughter Nina Vrsnik wrote in a victim impact statement. She said the losses forced the business to lay off two electricians last year. Court heard Rekken spent the money on gambling, alcohol and “daily expenses.” She has yet to repay any of the money she stole, Ambrose said.

Massachusetts: Wife of Congressman Sentenced to Prison on Tax Charges

The wife of Representative John F. Tierney was sentenced Thursday  to 30 days in prison on tax charges for helping her brother conceal income from an illegal offshore gambling business. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors had asked that Patrice Tierney be sentenced to two years of probation, with three months spent in home confinement. Her lawyer asked for straight probation. But Judge William Young of United States District Court said  that Ms. Tierney should be given some prison time as a deterrent. The prison sentence will be followed by five months of home confinement. Mr. Tierney, a Democrat, has said that his wife was betrayed by her brother and that she believed that his income came from selling or licensing software to legal Internet gambling businesses.

Enhaut man killed in his home was a bookie, friend claims

The 74-year-old retiree, who was stabbed to death Tuesday in his Swatara Township home, also was one of the area’s biggest sports bookies, a longtime friend told The Patriot-News on Thursday.  Troutman, known by the nickname “Fish,” took sports bets from clients in bars and likely had a considerable amount of cash on him, the friend told the newspaper, speaking on a condition of anonymity because of fear of legal repercussions.  Troutman’s possible involvement in illegal gambling is one of many avenues being investigated by authorities, Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr. said. There are no suspects, but people who knew Troutman are being questioned, he said.

And for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida Legislature to consider Gambling Expansion Bill lead by Senator Dennis Jones

Casino Watch Focus reported that Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s position on gambling expansion in Florida had come under question.  Some in the Florida Legislature have viewed this as an opportunity to push legislation that could take advantage of any change in philosophy from the Governor’s office.  A Tampa News Station reported the details of Senator Dennis Jones’ bill to expand gambling in Florida:

It includes four or five of what he calls “destination casinos,” offering a lot more than cards and slots. Sen. Jones says, under his bill, a casino operator would have to pay a $50 million application fee to the state. But will the new governor raise the stakes and let it get that far? It’s a safe bet there’s more on this issue to come.

And for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


A Brief Look at Crime 01/03 – 01/9

Doctor, You’re Wanted in Jail

It was a business plan that might have been written by Quentin Tarantino. An enterprising young doctor in Brooklyn decides to fund his gambling habit by peddling Adderall, the stimulant of choice among high-powered students and professionals. His stripper-turned-med-student girlfriend handles distribution over the Internet. Business was going just fine—until they were busted. Gabriel pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy. He has been living in Ohio, where Wiltshire is now under house arrest in her family’s home.

Dog fights bring charges

Sixteen people arrested in Claiborne County for dog fighting have been indicted and could face trial later this month.  Meanwhile, a dog fighting charge has been dropped against the alleged organizer of a 2008 Jackson match that led to three dogs being euthanized.  An organization fighting for tougher laws against animal cruelty says dog fighting is a severe problem throughout the state.” It serves as a form of revenue for the dog owner participants, a racket for illegal gambling, and an unconscionable spectator’s sport,”  says Mississippi – Fighting Animal Cruelty Together .

Feds Quietly Freeze Online Poker Cash in Washington

Federal prosecutors in the state of Washington have in recent months quietly moved to seize nearly $8 million from financial outfits that were processing transactions for big online poker companies like PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker.  According to four civil forfeiture complaints filed in federal court in Seattle since October, federal prosecutors have moved against cash sitting in accounts at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and SunTrust Banks, belonging to payment processor firms like Arrow Checks, Secure Money, Etegrity Processing, Anaya Trading Solutions and Blue Lake Capital Management and Logistics.

The cash grab is the latest move in the Justice Department’s battle against online poker and comes after Washington’s State Supreme Court in September upheld a 2006 state law that made it a felony to play online poker for money in the state of Washington. The government’s cash grab is the result of a task force investigation that included the Washington State Gambling Commission and began in January 2009, the court filings show. The largest of these forfeiture cases, filed in December and involving $5.1 million, began in June after task force officer William Marik was notified by a witness that he had received a payout check of online poker winnings from Arrow Checks. The government investigation tracked more than $20 million of wire transfers from Canada and Texas to Arrow Checks accounts at Bank of America controlled by Scott Seguin and Justin Sather, court documents say.

Former SM bank branch manager to be sentenced for bank fraud

A former Santa Maria bank branch manager who stole more than $135,000 from the institution from 2007 to 2009 will soon be headed to prison. Monica Bagby, who used to manage the CoastHills Federal Credit Union branch at 2364 South Bradley Road in the Crossroads Shopping Center, pleaded guilty in May to four counts of bank fraud filed in federal court. The prosecution said that the mandatory 12-month period of home detention Bagby will serve as part of her supervised release will allow her to continue her mental health treatment and address her gambling problems.

Former state worker who gambled on job gets 2 years prison

A former Plainfield woman and 25-year state employee was sentenced to two years in prison and lost her state pension at sentencing today for the theft of an estimated $207,000 in overtime pay.  Lisa E. Bloomer, 50, was working for the state Department of Developmental Services at the Church Street Client Living Arrangement in Mystic where police said she forged signatures to gain overtime pay when she was gambling at area casinos.

New Jersey fines casinos $115,000 in cheating, broken alarm, underage gambling cases

New Jersey casino regulators handed out $115,000 in fines Wednesday to Atlantic City casinos who failed to immediately catch a cheating dealer and customer, had a malfunctioning alarm system that let a robber walk away with $8,000 after holding up a cashier, allowed someone other than the winner to fill out tax forms for five slots jackpots, and allowed underage patrons to gamble and drink.  The fines come as state lawmakers are set to consider a bill that would remove full-time inspectors from the casinos in order to let the gambling houses save money.

Three arrested after chase in Florida

LARGO – Pinellas County deputies arrested three people after a brief chase Tuesday morning.  An on-duty deputy spotted a car on Ulmerton Road that matched the description of the car involved in a Sunday robbery at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. The deputy attempted to stop the vehicle, but the driver took off.  The deputy chased the car for several minutes before it abruptly pulled over at Tall Pines Drive and Whispering Drive. The three people inside jumped out and ran off.

2 Parents Banned from PA FLEECINOS (Kids left in cars)

Two patrons who left children unattended at the Parx Casino have been banned from the gaming hall, Pennsylvania regulators said Thursday. Fajiao Sun of Philadelphia was arrested Feb. 14, 2010, for leaving his 10-year-old daughter at the self-park entrance of the Bensalem, Pa., casino while he played virtual blackjack, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said. Xin Li of Philadelphia was arrested the same day, also while playing virtual blackjack, leaving two sons, 5- and 6-years-old, at the self-park entrance. In all, 10 people have been banned from the state’s 10 casinos, including two Philadelphia-area men who also left children in cars.

And for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


A Brief Look at Crime 12/27 – 01/02

Murders in Brooklyn and Queens may be linked to gambling den at barbershop

The murders of two men killed in different boroughs may be linked to an underground gambling den run out of a Queens barbershop, cop sources said. Gary Bowlin, a 35-year-old ex-con, was shot execution-style in the bathroom of Rob NG Cutz on 135th St. in South Richmond Hill, Queens, police said. A gunman pumped a single shot into his head shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday. About five hours later, Gregory Jenkins, 29, was found dead on Alabama St. in Brownsville, Brooklyn, police said. Detectives believe the two men may have been killed over money involved in card games run out of the barbershop.

Federal judge freezes bank accounts allegedly linked to illegal gambling (Guam)

A federal judge has frozen numerous band accounts that an Internal Revenue Service investigation has linked to alleged illegal gambling. The investigation, which also included the FBI, included confidential informer and hidden cameras, according to an affidavit filed in the District Court of Guam. The poker games were allegedly advertised through text message, the affidavit states. Buy-in was allegedly about $130 for each game, the affidavit states. The MGA spa and two other business linked to it’s owners — Paradise Bingo and Club Crazy Horse — were raided by the FBI last week.

MONEY LAUNDERING VIA A CHARITY?

Following an ongoing investigation by the FBI and IRS, at least twelve bank accounts have been frozen with alleged illegal gambling links to the nonprofit organisation, the ‘Overseas Chinese Association Center.’ Originally the organisation was granted the right to run legal bingo games in return for the funds raised then going towards charitable causes. However, the practices of the ‘Overseas Chinese Association Center’ are now being investigated with authorities alleging that as well as bingo,  money was raised through illegal gambling which was then used for private gain.

According to court documents, feds could only find $42,000 of the more than $400,000 the organisation claimed was paid to charities over the past two years. Instead, investigators are claiming that companies such as RJT, Inc. and DT&L Investments, Inc were used to launder money and divert funds away from the charity.

Ex-FBI Agent Discusses Volpe’s Mob Ties

A retired FBI agent told Eyewitness News that Anthony “Tony” Volpe’s death marks the end of an era — specifically, one marred with mob ties. According to Don Brutnell, the retired FBI agent who played a role in arresting Volpe, the man was a main figure in central Connecticut’s network of mob enterprises involving sports betting and loan sharking.

Brutnell said that under Volpe, small apartments and certain storefronts hid illegal gambling operations on Franklin Avenue. Now, Brutnell said it’s a different city and a different time. “Tony was involved in illegal gambling, extortion, loan sharking,” Brutnell said.

Men to stand trial on charges they stole from casino

Two Swissvale men accused of stealing more than $400,000 in fraudulent jackpots from the Meadows Racetrack & Casino will stand trial next week, after a third defendant pleaded guilty Wednesday. Andre Michael Nestor, 39, and his roommate Kerry Laverde, 51, are each facing more than 650 felony counts of theft, receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy, computer trespassing and other charges after they were arrested in October 2009 for exploiting a software glitch in a slot machine to display bogus jackpots.

REPUTED CRIME FAMILY MEMBER, RACKETEERING

A reputed Gambino crime-family associate who headed an elaborate, $20 million stock scheme admitted this morning that he wagered some of his proceeds in illegal gambling operations. Michael Scarpaci, 34, pleaded guilty to racketeering tied to his roles in an Internet sports-betting ring and high-stakes poker games.

During a hearing in Manhattan federal court, the recovering alcoholic and drug addict said he steered fellow bettors to his Web-based, off-shore sports bookie and also recruited players to join him at card games in Manhattan hotels. The gambling charges against Scarpaci — who was briefly released from jail for his daughter’s April baptism — were contained in a sweeping indictment that led to the arrests of 14 mobsters earlier this year.

Over $586 Million Lost by Illegal Gambling Operators

Police reports out of Kuala Lumpur have shown a staggering amount of money being lost by illegal gambling operations throughout the country with sports betting taking the lead as the biggest losers. CID Director Comm. Datuk Seri Bakri Zinin said that in World Cup betting alone over $4,183,000,000 was lost because of the raids by police in over 18,897 illegal activities. Also during those raids, over 16 thousand people were arrested!

Other illegal gambling activities have been targeted by the police including “lotteries, book making, common house gambling and open area gambling”. During the month that the World Cup was being played, over 270 raids were preformed with over 4 billion in monies being received in illegal bets for the sport. Determined to rid their country of crime, illegal gambling, and any other crime that cripples their country has become a main focal point for law enforcement.

With such a big set back during the Fifa World Cup games in South Africa back in June, sports betting and the illegal syndicates that promote them have been hit a major blow and hopefully will deter any illegal gaming operators from setting up shop in their country in the future. Raids will continue and money will be lost by all illegal operators for some time to come.

And for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


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