Monthly Archives: December 2009

A Brief Look at Crime 12/21 – 12/27

Gambino associates admit role in mob murder

Two associates of the Gambino Organized Crime Family, Letterio Decarlo and Thomas Dono, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to participating in a conspiracy that resulted in the murder Frank Hydell on April 28, 1998. The defendants also admitted to their participation in a conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business in the late 1990s.

One of the goals of the Gambino Organized Crime Family was to protect its members and associates from detection and prosecution by law enforcement, by intimidating and seeking reprisal against individuals who provided testimony or other information to law enforcement. As associates of the Gambino Organized Crime Family, DeCarlo and Dono committed various crimes, including murder, assault, robbery, burglary, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice.

Gambler sets herself ablaze

MADAM Wee Chiok was a familiar face on casino cruises and enjoyed playing mahjong with her friends for cash stakes.  When the 67-year-old retiree’s finances could not keep up with her gambling habit, she turned to loan sharks.  Pressed to make good on her debts, she killed herself on Feb 6 by setting herself alight. Investigations revealed that the extent of her debt was $4,500.

Theft results in 2-year term

A former property manager was sentenced Friday in Allen Superior Court to two years in prison for her theft of more than $500,000 from a local mobile home park. Poulson apologized for taking the money, but her attorney argued that she did so because of a gambling addiction and the stress of a medical diagnosis. Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull sentenced Poulson to two years in prison and two years on probation and ordered her to pay $524,123 in restitution.

Cockfighting Ring Busted; Several Arrested

A weekend raid on a LaSalle County cockfighting event led to the arrests of 10 people allegedly taking part in the illegal competition, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced Monday. A team of 50 officers from multiple jurisdictions raided a barn in Earlville, about 90 minutes outside Cook County, on Saturday. Dart’s office said the cockfighting operation had been based at the farm property for at least five years, generating illegal revenue that may have been used to finance drug and gun purchases. In cockfighting, specially trained roosters, or “gamecocks,” fight to the death. The roosters are bred for aggressiveness and often pumped with steroids and armed with razor-sharp steel picks on their legs.

Mafia Ties Suspected With Online Gambling Site

Paradise Bet, a gambling firm based out of the United Kingdom, has recently seen its license suspended. This comes after an asset freezing, as authorities have been investigating the possibility of the site’s involvement with the Mafia. Though the license to operate these gambling sites has been revoked, the implications of the best run even deeper. Amongst the arrests were seventy four people, including the leader of the Parisi Clan, Savino Parisi. According to reports, politicians and businessmen had also been implicated in the investigation. Amongst the crimes were loan-sharking, drug trafficking, attempted murder, and money laundering.

Liverpool fan’s cause of suicide was gambling

He was such a die-hard fan of Liverpool Football Club that he wore the familiar bright red team jersey even in death. The body of Teo Kok Hun, 33, was found hanging from a bathroom window by his wife on Oct 26, a day after the club had beat archrivals Manchester United.  Mr Teo, a driver, was clad in the football jersey with a pair of bermuda shorts. A suicide note was found on the living room table. In the suicide note to his wife, father and close friends, Mr Teo Kok Hun, 33, confessed his addiction to football gambling.

Former Redding teacher in trouble again, charged with thefts and drug counts

A one-time second-grade teacher who in 2004 was sentenced to 10 years in prison for second-degree burglary and other charges may not have learned her lesson, police allege. Diane Denise Fisher of Redding has been charged with 14 new felony counts, including receiving stolen property, grand theft, drug possession and identity theft.

Fisher, who was arraigned Monday in Shasta County Superior Court, is accused, among other things, of stealing her mother’s name and Social Security number to fraudulently open credit card accounts, according to a Redding Police Department investigative report.

She allegedly used those credit cards to obtain goods and services totaling more that $13,000 and to take out cash advances at a Corning casino, the report said.  Although she initially denied it, Fisher later admitted to investigators that she used her mother’s name and other information to obtain credit cards and finance her gambling habit, the police report said.

Multiple Casino Robberies Take Place In December

Though the holidays are meant to be a time of sharing and joy, some who have fallen upon hard times have turned to criminal mischief in order to claim some ill gotten gains. While the recession has hurt many, the crime of robbery has begun to hurt even more. Several casino robberies have taken place, with some rather large heists currently being investigated.

The Black Diamond Casino in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was one of the most recent robberies to take place. A Wednesday afternoon in late December saw a rather festive burglar enter a casino shortly after 3:00. In broad daylight, this robber entered the casino in a Santa suit, toting a firearm.

Man gets 6-year sentence for embezzling money

A 69-year-old Santa Rosa man was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay $1.8 million dollars in restitution for embezzling money from a Petaluma company. Dave Crockett, the company’s CEO, told the Press Democrat that Merman spent the money on gambling and “high living.” “This is a very sad situation, where the defendant took advantage of an elderly business owner’s health condition. This prison sentence will ensure that he will not have an opportunity to commit elder financial abuse any time in the near future,” Passalacqua said.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/14 – 12/20

Gambling ringleader goes to prison

A man who claimed he was a member of the mafia and ran a large-scale illegal gambling and loan-sharking operation in Denver that contributed to two suicides was sentenced Monday to 16 years in prison. The bald 49-year-old wore jet-black eye glasses, a yellow jail jumpsuit and had a small tattoo on his right forearm as he stood before Jefferson County District Judge Philip McNulty. Just minutes earlier, prosecutors had reminded the judge that Castardi had bragged that he’d been a bookie for the Gambino crime family on the East Coast for most of his adult life.

Woman must repay money stolen from firm

A pathological addiction to VLT gambling ate up all of the $112,146 Lillian Arlene Lockyer embezzled from her employer during the course of a year.  Lockyer, 50, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of fraud dating from May 2007 to May 2008. She was handed a conditional sentence of two years less one day to be served in the community. That will be followed by three years on probation.

Gambling addict’s violent robberies

A GAMBLING addict who carried out two terrifying robberies on a shop assistant and a taxi driver in Birmingham has been given an indeterminate prison sentence.  In passing a sentence of imprisonment for public protection on Zico Davis, Judge Robert Orme said he represented a “significant risk” to members of the public of serious harm.

Graham Henson, prosecuting, said his first victim, who was known to the defendant, worked in a family-run shop with her uncle. When the shop closed at 8pm she left by a rear door and got into her car. “She started the engine and the car door suddenly opened and she saw, as it turned out, this defendant holding an Army-style combat knife in one hand, which he pointed at her.”

Three weeks later Davis struck again after he and another man got into a taxi. After directing the driver to the Winson Green area one of the men then produced a revolver with a long barrel. Threats were made to shoot the driver, who handed over £100. He was then told to hand over more money and pistol-whipped with the butt of the gun.

Melson ordered to stand trial in School Land Office embezzlement case

Attorney General Drew Edmondson says Melson is accused of 174 counts of embezzlement for allegedly taking more than $1.16 million in royalty payments intended for the Land Office. He was indicted in June by the state multicounty grand jury. Prosecutors say he allegedly diverted the money to himself to feed a gambling habit. Melson faces between one and 20 years in prison on each count and possible fines and restitution if convicted.

Former NYC Law Department Attorney Admits Starting Mortgage Scam to Pay Gambling Debts

A former New York City Law Department attorney admitted Friday that he had defrauded two victims in a mortgage scam to pay off gambling debts.  Hugh A. Zuber, who worked in the Law Department’s special federal litigation division, pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud before Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck. Zuber, who invented both a state court lawsuit and a federal bankruptcy proceeding in a desperate attempt to avoid detection, ripped off one victim for $198,820 and a second for $185,151. He will be ordered to pay those amounts in restitution, forfeit $301,250 and pay a fine of between $6,000 and $60,000 when he is sentenced by Judge Richard M. Berman.

High-Stakes Poker Club Owner Gets 16 Years In Prison

Jeffrey Castardi (48) has been sentenced to 16 years in prison, after been found guilty of violating Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act, including running an illegal professional gambling and bookmaking business, loan-sharking, money laundering, tax evasion, theft and unlawful debt collection.

Castardi is believed to have Mafia connections and was often heard boasting that he had been a Gambino crime family bookie for most of his life. Together with his associates, Castardi operated a Denver based gambling club from July 2003 until April 2008, when it was shut down by the Denver Police Department. Millions of dollars was said to have passed through the club, with many gamblers falling into debt and forced to take out 40 percent interest loans from Castardi, leading to at least two suicides.

Man loses wife to fellow gambler in card game

A man in western Uttar Pradesh allegedly gave away his 32-year-old wife to a fellow gambler after he lost a card game, police said Wednesday. The incident came to light when the woman, a resident of Billauchpura village in Baghpat district, about 400 km from Lucknow, managed to escape from the house of the man to whom her husband lost the game, police added. “The woman, who approached us Tuesday, has alleged that her husband Raheesu had used her as a stake after he lost all his money in gambling,” a police official told reporters in Baghpat.

Joplin man pleads guilty to stealing from casino by counterfeiting chips

Southwest Missouri man has pleaded guilty in Oklahoma federal court to using counterfeit poker chips to steal thousands of dollars from an Indian casino in Northeast Oklahoma. “I had previously obtained legitimate 25-cent poker chips and used a special process to create counterfeit chips,” William Reece Lancaster, 49, of Joplin, admitted to authorities in his plea agreement. According to Woodward, Lancaster admitted stealing at least $27,236 from the casino.  Sentencing is set for March 9, after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office. Lancaster faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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


A brief look at crime 12/7 – 12/13

Teen shot dead at gambling den, cousin wounded

A teenager was killed and his cousin wounded when gunmen opened fire with what is believed to be a semi-automatic weapon at an illegal gambling den at Mt St George, near Scarborough, at about midnight on Monday. Dead is 18-year-old Jude “Stooky” Alleyne, of Mt St George, who succumbed to his injuries shortly afterwards at the Scarborough Hospital.

Southport mum speaks after suicide of her successful banker son

THE shell-shocked mother of a high-flying banker who hung himself after being sucked into the dangerous world of gambling, debt and drugs has spoken out to say: “Don’t let this happen to your child”.  Tragic James Paget, 28, killed himself after racking up £60,000 worth of credit card bills and loan charges to fund a secret gambling habit and cocaine addiction that not even his girlfriend or family knew about.

Stunned mum Barbara, of Ainsdale, thought her intelligent son – a senior banking manager at Lloyds TSB – had long overcome a university addiction that saw him spend thousands on internet poker and powerful drugs.  But in his high-earning bank job, the former Ainsdale Hope and KGV student spiralled back into trouble after accessing loans and high-value credit cards with surprising ease.

Southern Mo. man who placed illegal gambling machines at businesses sentenced to probation

A southern Missouri man who placed illegal gambling machines at several businesses in the region has been sentenced to three years’ probation.  The U.S. Attorney’s office said 63-year-old Morris Guy Ramseur, of West Plains, must also pay the balance of a $200,000 forfeiture representing his proceeds from the operation. Ramseur was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court. He pleaded guilty in May to running the illegal operations from 1997 to January 2005. Prosecutors said Ramseur arranged with owners of convenience stores, bars and other businesses to let him install video slot poker machines and other devices. He then split the net proceeds with the business owners.

Five jailed in Shanxi for kidnapping teens

Five people, who are convicted of kidnapping and illegal gambling have been sentenced to jail terms ranging from two to eight years by a court in northern Shanxi Province. The verdict said Liu Jifeng, Ma Qingfeng and their complice lured or abducted teenagers to Myanmar, forcing them to gamble in casinos between July and October 2008. The kidnappers then held the young people, demanding ransoms of tens of thousands yuan from their family.

Duo pleads to embezzling $13M from Gretna company

A Louisiana woman and a Kentucky man have pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $13 million from a Gretna oil company. The U.S. attorney’s office in New Orleans says White and Kinney stole checks and money from John W. Stone Oil Distributor LLC. in Gretna between 1995 and 2007. Prosecutors say White reviewed payments at Stone Oil, a midstream and dock-fueling business, and Kinney was her sister’s boyfriend.  Authorities allege the stolen funds were used to pay personal expenses, gambling and to fund a racing company.

Problem Gambling Experts Say Sports Betting a Teen Crisis

An expert on problem gambling among youth says sports betting is an epidemic among high school students. Wagering on sports is seen as a gateway introduction for teens to other forms of gambling. “The average I find is a high school with a population of 1,000 has two [student-bookmakers],” Elman told NorthJersey.com. Elman says the sportsbook is often passed down from class to class as students work their way through the schools.

Elman says parents are often unaware of the gambling until children steal from them to pay betting debts. “They end up using the credit card, or they take something from the house and sell it,” the counselor advises. Police say they have neither the time nor resources to investigate without complaints, and that the schools are handling the problem. But Elman, who does not involve legal authorities to avoid scaring off teens in need of help, says that compulsive gambling unattended can wreck lives before parents are aware of the danger.

Sports betting magnate James Giordano goes to jail

Last Wednesday, a former bookmaker named James Giordano pleaded guilty to promoting gambling in New York. The 55-year-old Pinecrest resident was indicted in 2006 for running a sports betting website in the Caribbean that took millions of dollars in bets from dozens of U.S.-based bookies and gamblers.  It was all part of an epic battle over the legality of Internet gambling.

Giordano — who spoke at length for the first time about his life — began his gambling career at a New York-area grocery store, where he watched a produce manager take bets from employees and then hand off the cash to a small Italian fellow. He remembers taking the produce manager aside. “I told him: ‘You gather bets… it seems to me if you eliminate the phone call, you can keep the money.'”  Soon he began his own little bookmaking operation, first with the produce manager and later on his own.

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


Florida gambling compact is heading back to square one

Casino Watch Focus has reported numerous times on the situation in Florida regarding the state’s gambling compact with the Seminole Indians.  The Governor is allowed to negotiate a compact, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the compact must have Florida Senate and House approval – a decision they came to when Governor Crist exceeded his power and established a compact that expanded gambling by negotiating more state money in exchange for allowing Tribal Casinos to allow table games.

The Florida Senate and House then established guidelines the compact must follow, but the negotiations over the exact details of the compact have been heavily debated and the Seminole’s decision to keep allowing table games during the compact negotiations have been a serious point of controversy.

Now, an online source is pointing to a virtual collapse in negotiations, explaining that the compact is essentially back to square one as time is simply running out:

After months of tough legislative battles, followed by weeks of negotiation between Governor Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe, the deal to settle Florida’s gambling laws is about to be thrown back to the starting point. Influential state Representative Bill Galvano told the Sun-Sentinel that there would be no special legislative session to approve Crist’s agreement, and that a new gambling bill would probably come out of next year’s session.

Although Crist’s package follows generally the guidelines established in the legislature, mounting complaints by track casinos and poker rooms have led a backswell to second-guess the proposed compact.

“The members have raised issues beyond just the compact and the pari-mutuel side, and looked at issues as large as how do we deal with gambling in Florida as a whole,” Galvano told the Ft. Lauderdale paper. “We are a gaming state. And we have allowed ourselves, by piecemeal authorization, to get into a situation where our gaming is not the benefit it could be to the state of Florida yet it has the negative impacts.”

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


A brief look at crime 11/30 – 12/06

Churchyard murder accused ‘killed friend for gambling winnings’

A HALESOWEN man brutally battered a close friend to death in a town centre churchyard and stole his £1,000 gambling winnings – a court heard this week.  Father of three Paul Hadley suffered “colossal” head injuries in the attack in which he was repeatedly beaten with a metal object leaving his skull “fractured and fragmented.”  Richard Latham QC prosecuting told Wolverhampton Crown Court Mr Hadley, a carer for a blind and deaf man and a known gambler and drinker, had earlier been “flashing” his winnings.

Chinese mob bosses sentenced to death in crackdown

Two mob bosses – nicknamed the “Hammerhead” and “Spicy Qin” – have been sentenced to death for murder and illegally running a business empire involving underground casinos, cement factories and poultry markets in southern China, a court official and local media said Friday.

The long-awaited verdict, which was 60,000 pages long, is the latest development in a sweeping crackdown on organized crime in China. High-profile trials in other parts of the country have exposed powerful criminal networks, often involving collusion between gangsters and officials.

Pali killer gets life sentence

Ethan “Malu” Motta was sentenced yesterday to life in federal prison without parole, almost six years after he and two others murdered two men and critically injured a third in a violent underworld dispute over control of illegal gambling games in the Islands. Mollway said Motta committed “horrible crimes” and held “a very high position in the criminal underworld hierarchy.”  Motta was convicted of two charges of committing murder in support of criminal racketeering — punishable by a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

Killings in England May Relate to Soccer Betting Ring

For over a year now, the murders of Zhen Xing Yang and his girlfriend Xi Zhou continue to be a mystery, though the alleged murderer has since been taken into custody.  Police said Mr Zhen,25, was “assaulted for more than an hour” before being stabbed. They believe passers-by may have heard his screams.  A post-mortem examination revealed he suffered extensive bruising to his arms before he died.  Examinations also showed Miss Xi may have been asphyxiated as well as stabbed during the attack.

All of this, investigators now believe, points to a soccer betting ring.  According to the New York Times, Detectives unearthed evidence that the victims were both involved with an Asian gambling ring that was relying on advance tips to bet on English soccer matches.

Mark Lowery bankrolled gambling with theft from Walker lads

MONEY-grabbing Mark Lowery is today exposed as a charity rat who stole from a lads’ football team to bankroll his gambling habit.  Lowery was a coach at Newcastle’s Walker Central FC, where he volunteered and helped train the budding young footballers.  He was so trusted that club officials allowed him to collect subscription fees, and it was these he blew on gambling – stealing £1,387 between June and last month.  The 29-year-old even stole from a charity scheme run by the club, for which families would bring in old clothes to be passed on to a worthy cause for cash.

Jailed China mafia trial judge kills self: report

A former director at Chongqing’s high court, Wu had been charged with accepting 3.5 million yuan (512,700 dollars) in bribes and being unable to explain the source of 5.2 million yuan in his possession, the report said. The officials are charged with accepting large sums of money to protect organised crime and illegal gambling rackets.

A former senior judge awaiting trial in a massive organised crime crackdown in southwest China hung himself in jail using the drawstring of his underwear, state media said Monday.  Wu Xiaoqing, 57, was found hanging from his detention cell doorway in Chongqing city on Saturday afternoon and pronounced dead several hours later after being rushed to hospital, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Gambler milked his girlfriend’s life savings

A COMPULSIVE gambler who plundered his girlfriend’s life savings to pay for his addiction has been jailed.  Exeter Crown Court heard over the space of five months, 31-year-old Matthew Parker dipped into Melanie Jordan’s Royal Bank of Scotland account more than 145 times and took almost £14,000.  He then blew the cash in casinos, always hoping for the big win which would allow him to repay the money before he was found out.  But that never happened.

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


NBA deals with another gambling scandal on the heels of former referee Tim Donaghy’s release from prison.

A year and a half ago, Casino Watch Focus provided the details of the sentencing in a high profile NBA gambling case involving former NBA referee Tim Donaghy.  He pled guilty to using inside information to gamble on games and selling that information to others.  He still claims that he never altered the outcome of the games, a fact an independent NBA and FBI investigation confirmed.  He claimed that he could predict the out come of the games because of the established relationships he knew existed between other referees and owners in the NBA.  He also claimed that he was threatened by the Mob to provide them with his gambling selections, or else his family’s welfare would be in jeopardy.  He had around a 75% success rate at picking the correct winner, a stat the Mob just couldn’t ignore Donaghy claimed.

The entire situation was a total embarrassment for the NBA.  Following Donaghy’s recent release from prison, the NBA was hoping to put the gambling issue behind them after what the they knew would be several national interviews and various press regarding Tim Donaghy’s story.  However, an online source is reporting that another gambling scandal is looming over the NBA:

The National Basketball Association has recently informed the Sacramento Kings that one of their (former) employees had gambled while still with the team.

The former assistant director of scouting, Jack Mai, was reported to have gambled while still employed by the Kings. Mai was fired from the team in January. He had been with the team for eight seasons.

The Kings had disbursed a press release with conclusive findings that Mai had in fact taken part in sports gambling whilst under employment. “Improper wagering activities” where what he had engaged in, thus causing him to lose his status, both present and future, with the NBA and any team beneath its umbrella. A spokesperson from the NBA stated that Mai would not be eligible for reinstatement.

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


A brief look at crime 11/23- 11/29

Cold-Blooded Killer Slaughters Three Generations of Russian Family in Israel

The tragic death of three generations of the Oshrenko family who resided in Tel Aviv, Israel, shook the world. The cold-blooded murderer took lives of an elderly couple, their son and his wife, their three-year old girl and a baby boy. The police were looking for the monster who committed the worst crime in Israel’s history with a special zeal. The murderer, a 39-year old Chelyabinsk native Dmitry Lakin, immigrated to Israel under the name of Demian Kirilik and was known to Russian police as Karlik (Dwarf).

Dmitry Lakin (Demian Kirilik in Israel) met Dmitry Oshrenko while working in Premier restaurant opened by Oshrenko right after his immigration from former Soviet Union. Kirilik worked as a headwaiter in Oshrenko’s restaurant. He had a gambling problem and large debt.

Gangster Wins $364K From Poker Tournament, Arrested For Slaying

After plowing through a field of nearly eight hundred players, Sek hoped to walk away with the money. Instead, he walked away with an arrest. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police had informed the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation that the winner, Sek, was wanted for his involvement in the Surrey Six slayings, which had taken place in 2007. Sophon, who allegedly has ties to the Red Scorpions, a Canadian Gang, was accused of allowing the killers in the shooting access to the tower in which six people, as well as two bystanders, lost their lives. He is currently being charged with manslaughter and is the sixth arrest made in the case.

Chicago police sergeant charged with stealing about $600,000 from union fund

The head of the Chicago police sergeants’ union was charged with looting union dues to pay for steak dinners, gambling trips to Las Vegas and a second residence in the city’s Sauganash neighborhood.  Sgt. John Pallohusky, a 21-year veteran assigned to the detective division, was arrested at his Northwest Side home early Friday on felony theft and money-laundering charges for allegedly embezzling about $600,000 over the last several years.  “This case makes this a very difficult day for all of us in law enforcement,” said State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez

Exchange bandit’ sentenced to six years:
Bay Street financier robbed a series of banks during his lunch hour

Born in Bahrain, Pinto immigrated to Canada in 1987, when he was 16. He studied psychology and sociology at the University of Western Ontario, where his addiction first took hold while betting on sports, court heard during his sentencing hearing.  By age 25, he was gambling about $1,000 a day. His compulsive gambling addiction maxed out his credit cards and left him more than $100,000 in debt, according to his lawyer, Calvin Barry.

Woman Accused Of Stealing $300K From HOA For Gambling

A manager of a Cherry Creek luxury condo-owners association has been charged with stealing $308,000 from the group’s bank account and using thousands in ATM withdrawals to gamble at Black Hawk casinos.  An official for the Portico Homeowners Association was alerted in June by a US Bank representative that the condominium group’s account had been emptied by “unusually large ATM withdrawals and debits, many withdrawals taking place in Black Hawk, Colorado,” home to several gambling casinos, according to court records.

Man admits church fraud

A churchgoer pleaded guilty to fraud today after gambling away money that fellow parishioners thought they had donated for his “medical” treatment. He admitted 14 charges of obtaining money by deception. Eight of the charges related to sums of over $1000.

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