Monthly Archives: April 2010

Missouri Gaming Commission undergoes major personnel changes including the replacement of Gene McNary

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon named several new members to the Missouri Gaming Commission.  The Kansas City Star reported:

A former sheriff and a corporate executive have been appointed to the Missouri Gaming Commission. Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday appointed Barrett Hatches and Jack Merritt to the commission that regulates casinos and bingo halls.  Merritt is a Republican from the city of Republic. He retired from the Missouri  Highway Patrol in 1997 after a 27-year career and served as sheriff of Greene Countyfrom 2001 through 2008. Hatches is a Democrat from Kansas City who served as chief operating officer of Swope Community Enterprises from 2004 until this year. He also worked for Missouri Gas Energy. The appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

Its was also reported that the current Gaming Commission director, Gene McNary, is resigning effective July 1st. Rodger Stottlemeyre, a former Missouri Highway Patrol superintendent and the current Director of Enforcement for the Gaming Commission, was named as the new Executive Director.  McNary indicated that it was Gov. Nixon’s appointment of Hatches and Merritt that lead to his resignation.  The St Louis Business Journal reported:

“The day before yesterday’s commission meeting, the governor announced two new appointees to the commission. Gene clearly saw a changing of the guard,” said LeAnn McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the commission. “He is familiar with the term process and wanted to provide for a smooth transition. Roger is here and is Gene’s deputy. He knows the process and where we are at with the (soon-to-be-available gaming) license. The whole process was done in the best interest of commission and the state.”

The Gaming Commission will have control over which company is awarded the next casino license and where that license will be granted.  Given the fire McNary’s decision to revoke the President Casino’s gaming license has come under, some are speculating that St Louis Mayor Francis Slay and other legislators who wanted to limit the commission’s authority on the matter have succeeded on applying the pressure needed to see McNary out of office.  As the St Louis Post Dispatch reported, the Exceutive Director will play a major role in the location of the new casino:

McNary was poised to be a key player in the decision, which is expected to pit competing proposals from Cape Girardeau, the St. Louis region, Sugar Creek near Kansas City and possibly elsewhere in the state. The executive director leads the staff that will analyze casino proposals and has typically acted as the state’s voice on gambling issues. Now that job will fall to Stottlemyre.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 4/19-4/25

Canadian store owner guilty in theft of $5.75M lottery ticket

A Toronto convenience store owner admitted the temptation was too great when he stole a tax-free lottery ticket worth $5.75 million from a customer. Hafiz Malik will be sentenced in June after pleading guilty to bilking Lorraine Teicht by saying her Lotto 6-49 ticket wasn’t a winner. In fact, it won the jackpot and Malik waited seven months to cash his pilfered prize in January 2005. Prosecutor Philip Perlmutter asked Judge Rebecca Shamai to sentence Malik, 63, to 21/2 years in prison for defrauding Teicht and three fellow employees of the Toronto Catholic District School Board who shared the ticket. The fraud cost Teicht, 56, who died of cancer on April 5, two things she could never replace: trust and time, Perlmutter said.

14 reputed Gambino family members charged in NYC with counts including sex trafficking, murder

A reputed boss of the Gambino organized crime family and 13 other people are facing an array of charges, including what prosecutors called new criminal territory for the mob: sex trafficking of a minor, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday. Papers filed in federal court in Manhattan allege that Gambino soldiers and associates recruited prostitutes at strip clubs, including a 15-year-old, and advertised their services on the Internet.  Prosecutors said the mobsters drove the prostitutes to appointments in Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey, splitting their earnings with them. The defendants also “made the young women available for sex to the players at the regular high-stakes poker games” hosted by the family, the court papers said.

Capitol Investments CEO Charged in Ponzi Case

A prominent Miami Beach businessman and philanthropist was charged with operating his grocery reseller business as a Ponzi scheme that the Securities and Exchange Commission said hit $900 million.  “Shapiro lured investors by falsely touting Capitol’s securities as a risk-free investment with extraordinarily high returns,” said Eric I. Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, in a statement. “He used his prominence and prestige to gain investors’ trust in funding Capitol’s grocery diverting business, but behind their backs he diverted their money to enrich himself.”

He allegedly misappropriated at least $35 million for his own use, including paying gambling debts, buying floor seats to the Miami Heat professional basketball team, covering $26,000 in monthly mortgage payments on his $5.3 million Miami Beach home and $7,250 in monthly payments on his $1.5 million yacht, prosecutors said.

CCC fines two casinos for allowing excluded gambler to play, three others forfeit winnings from 117 underage gamblers

Two casinos have been hit with separate $10,000 fines by state gaming regulators, while three casinos forfeited more than $3,200 they collected from 117 underage gamblers. The Casino Control Commission at its meeting today fined Bally’s Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City for failing to exclude a gambler who put himself on the state’s self-exclusion list in 2003. The person was able to gamble several times in 2005 and 2006, losing $48,562 at Bally’s and $38,759 at Caesars, the CCC said. He had opened 15 different accounts at the casinos, and while they were able to identify him as someone on the self-exclusion list on 13 occasions, they missed him two other times because he used a fake name, address and social security number.

Ex-Fairfield official admits gambling stolen funds at casino

Former town Supervisor Francis Matthews did not know how to manage the town’s finances and could not use a computer to handle its business, so he turned to his wife, Randi, to deal with the books, according to court documents. That trust appears to have cost the rural Herkimer County town nearly all of its money. Randi Matthews, 42, allegedly stole $377,976 from 2005 until late last year, according to a 350-count indictment handed up by a grand jury and unsealed Wednesday in Herkimer County Court. Francis Matthews was not indicted. Randi Matthews, who was the town’s deputy supervisor for most of last year, admitted to state police investigators that she used the money to feed a gambling addiction, spending almost all of it at Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona  — where she said she was “always looking to win big.”

Del. cigarette outlets doubled as illegal gambling parlors

The owners and some employees at cigarette outlets in Seaford and Laurel are accused of illegal gambling operations at the businesses for which winning customers would receive cash pay-outs, Delaware authorities said Wednesday. The arrests follow a six-month investigation into alleged gambling activities at the Payless Cigarette Outlet on West Stein Highway in Seaford, and the Laurel Cigarette Outlet on Sussex Highway in Laurel, Chandler said. The investigation was conducted by the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, or DATE, along with the Delaware State Police and the Seaford Police Department, she said. Investigators said they received unauthorized cash pay-outs from illegal video gambling machines at either location, and during simultaneous searches last week, confiscated seven video gambling machines and nearly $4,000 in cash,  Chandler also said.

Footprints led Border Patrol agents to smuggled roosters

Authorities are looking for a group of men who allegedly tried to smuggle a crate with 20 roosters into the United States. Border Patrol agents told Action 4 News that the incident happened in the rural Starr County community of Escobares on Saturday evening. Investigators said Border Patrol agents spotted a series of footprints leading from the Rio Grande. Border Patrol agents followed the tracks and found a large crate with 20 roosters. The birds are now in U.S. Department of Agriculture custody while their allegedly smugglers remain at large. Authorities believe the roosters were being smuggled into the United States for illegal gambling or breeding. Federal officials said roosters are known to carry a variety of diseases which may pose a threat to the poultry industry.

Maplewood woman charged in huge theft from work

A 47-year-old Maplewood woman has been charged in Ramsey County District Court with stealing more than half a million dollars from her employer, Norandex Building Materials Distribution in Roseville. Luberts was hired at Norandex on May 24, 1999, as a customer service representative and was in charge of accounts receivable. The complaint said an internal investigation found that Luberts was able to steal money by shorting cash receipts from one customer on a deposit ticket and concealing it by using a check from another customer. An audit showed that Luberts allegedly stole $527,000 between Nov. 22, 2002, and Sept. 10, 2009, her last day at work. The complaint said Roseville police recognized Luberts as a frequent customer who plays pull tabs and bingo at the Roseville bingo hall. When they searched her home, they found evidence that she also frequents casinos, the complaint said.

DA: Man Used Mother’s Money For Gambling

A district attorney said Richard Stone took control of his mother’s finances in 2006 after his mother was diagnosed with dementia and moved into an assisted living home. Investigators said Stone sold his mother’s home and received a check for more than $120,000.  Instead of using the money for his mother’s medical bills, investigators said Stone never reported the sale, meaning the state paid thousands for his mother’s medical bills. Stone has been charged with 22 counts of theft and 21 counts of criminal mistreatment.

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


Pinnacle Entertainment Settles with Union over Allegations of Coercing Employees

The St Louis Business News reported that the St Louis Union filed a federal complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in St Louis against Pinnacle Entertainment alleging they were “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees.”  They contend that both downtown St Louis downtown casinos, the President Casino and the Lumiere Place Casino, failed to grant wage increases, engage in unilateral changes in working conditions and participated in improper terminations.  However, just days before the court date, Pinnacle agreed to a settlement deal.  The article reported:

St. Louis union attorney Greg Campbell of Hammond and Shinners  said, “This sweeping settlement is extraordinary in its in breadth and  detail and represents a significant remedy for longstanding complaints  raised by Pinnacle’s employees. We sincerely hope it  signals a change in the Company’s attitude toward its employees.”

This event represents more failed promises by the casino industry to the people of Missouri.  Tim Leubbert, Unite Here International President and Missouri state director said it best:

“When Pinnacle sought permission to build  casinos in Missouri, it promised employees and government officials that  it would be a good citizen, but today’s extraordinary settlement shows  how the Company has fallen short. It shouldn’t take a  federal case to get the Company to honor its promises.We  hope this unprecedented settlement signals the Company is ready to  address its remaining unmet promises to the people of Missouri.”

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


A Brief Look at Crime 4/12-4/18

Online Gambling Portal Owner Bizarre Death 2nd in 12 Months

The death of Kenneth Weitzner marks the second time in less than 12 months that an online gambling portal owner has died under mysterious circumstances.  Weitzner was confirmed dead shortly after 10 am EST Saturday morning along with his wife Jackie in their Chesapeake, Virginia home.  Police have confirmed they arrived at the residence that morning and noted the death as a double suicide.   “Other” was also noted, suggesting that, while a suicide had been reported, police were yet to conclude the exact cause of death.

Rumors were swirling all weekend that Weitzner owed significant amounts of money to various individuals though a motive for the deaths is yet to be confirmed.  Many in the online gambling community were especially stunned as to why his wife, a grandmother of three, would take her own life. The Weitzner suicide case marks the second time in less than six months that an online gambling portal owner has died under tragic circumstances.

Suspect in murder of family of 6 changes plea to not guilty

Damian Karlik, who has been charged with the murder of six members of the Osherenko family in Rishon Letzion, pleaded not guilty on Sunday, just three months after confessing to the crime.  Karlik’s attorney Uri Keinan appealed to the Petah Tikva Court to make the circumstances of Karlik’s arrest admissible in court, in order to prove that he was arrested illegally.

Damian Karlik, 38, was arrested with his wife, parents and two other female relatives in October, shortly after the murder was uncovered, and confessed to the murder of the six members of the Osherenko family, including two children, the father Dmitry, his wife Tatiana, and the two grandparents Ludmilla and Edward.

Natalia Karlik, Damian’s wife, was also arrested and charged with manslaughter for assisting her husband in planning the murder and obstruction of evidence. Karlik, whom the police say is a compulsive gambler who spent huge amounts of money at gambling venues, allegedly began to plan his revenge on Oshrenko two months ago with his wife Natalya.

Manager leaves farmer with loan but no cattle

PATRICK FARRELL dreamed of a new life as a cattle farmer. He borrowed $500,000, hired a Bathurst man, Francis James Loneragan, as a manager and bought more than 1000 cattle. Now, five years later, he still has the loan but no cattle. Loneragan had a gambling problem and in July and August 2007 he spent more than $278,000. At the same time, more than 400 of Mr Farrell’s cattle disappeared from the four properties he had leased in the Bathurst area. Loneragan, 46, has admitted he sold 799 cattle which did not belong to him and pocketed nearly $400,000 between October 2006 and September 2007.  Yesterday, Magistrate James Garbett sentenced him to three years in prison for 13 counts of obtaining money by deception.

Credit Union, With Mob Ties In Its History, Closed This Week

When the South End Mutual Benefit Association was shuttered this week by banking regulators, so went a once questionable Hartford banking tradition — one known principally among gangsters and FBI agents. Two decades ago, when the mafia in Connecticut was at its peak and legal casino gambling was just a dream, the mob made the credit union a “piggy bank” of sorts, using it to underwrite a multimillion-dollar, illegal gambling business.

Mobsters who ran illegal casino games at social clubs in Meriden, New Britain and Hartford had access to stacks of pre-approved credit union loan applications and used them to extend instant money to tapped out players. It meant reliable cash in south Hartford, where gangsters and would-be gangsters whispered importantly in the bakeries and Italian restaurants along Franklin Avenue.

Minnesota Man Pleads Guilty To Running $190 Mln Ponzi Scheme

A 37-year-old Minnesota man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to charges of running a $190 million Ponzi scheme.  Cook admitted that he schemed to defraud no fewer than 1,000 people out of at least $190 million from January 2007 through July 2009 by purportedly selling investments in a foreign-currency trading program.  But according to federal prosecutors, he used much of the money to make payments to previous investors; buy ownership interest in two trading firms and a real estate development in Panama; pay personal expenses, including substantial gambling debts; and acquire the Van Dusen Mansion in Minneapolis.

Ex-addictions counsellor stole to feed gambling addiction

An Edmonton judge must now decide whether or not a former high-ranking Alberta civil servant who pilfered $634,000 from the province should be put behind bars. On Monday, the Crown argued Lloyd Carr – the former executive director in charge of the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission’s tobacco reduction unit – should get a prison term of between three and five years. However, a lawyer for the 46-year-old disgraced bureaucrat, now living in Manitoba, suggested he be given a two-year conditional sentence to be served in the community. Ironically, the ex-addictions counsellor claims he committed the massive fraud to fuel his gambling addiction.

Former Alberta bureaucrat admits to false contracts

A former senior bureaucrat who defrauded the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission of more than $634,000 has admitted to creating a series of false contracts and funnelling government money into his personal bank accounts. Lloyd Carr, 46, was once executive director at AADAC. He pleaded guilty in February to fraud over $5,000 for a number of transactions that occurred between 2004 and 2006. During sentencing arguments Monday, Crown prosecutor Greg Lepp suggested that Carr was offering a “new excuse” by blaming the fraud on a gambling addiction.

Former school board member charged with swindling elder

Forest Grove Police say a former Forest Grove School Board member, Shawn Vilhauer, stole $50,000 from an elderly man in his care.  Police arrested Vilhauer Monday on charges of criminal mistreatment and theft. He’s currently lodged in the Washington County Jail. Vilhauer resigned from the school board in February 2008, citing demands in his personal life. In the fall of 2008, he became the caretaker of 70-year-old Gary Murray, a family friend.

Forest Grove Police Sgt. Jeff Williams said that while Vilhauer started off as Murray’s caretaker, eventually he was given responsibility only for paying the man’s bills. But instead, police say, Vilhauer took money from the man’s account and used it for a variety of personal expenditures, including vacations, bathroom remodel projects, online adult entertainment, online gambling and mortgage payments.

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


Rep. Barney Frank’s bill to regulate Internet gambling comes under fire

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on the opposition to legalizing online gambling. Now it appears that Rep. Frank’s bill has caught the ire of Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.  An online source reports:

Frank has already indicated his intention to seek committee approval for his Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act, H.R. 2267, which already has 66 co-sponsors across both Republcan and Democrat parties.

In his letter to committee members, Land noted that his ERLC is particularly disturbed that the Frank proposal would:

(1) release license recipients from state and federal control by granting “complete defense against any prosecution”;

(2) grant authority to the Treasury Department to regulate gambling and thereby remove this power from the states, where it traditionally has rested; and

(3) transfer the ability to criminalize online wagering from a state’s citizens to its governor, who can effectively reverse anti-gambling laws by deciding not to withdraw from legalized Internet wagering as regulated by the Treasury Department.

The article went on to explain that Land also views the bill as serving the financial interests of gambling companies while complicating our international trade commitments.  Groups including the NCAA, MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL also expressed their opposition in a joint letter to the committee.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 4/05 – 4/11

Armed Assailants Rob French Casino, Get $38, 000

Masked men brandishing assault rifles burst into a crowded French casino early Sunday, fired shots at the ceiling and made off with about euro28,000 ($37,800), police and the casino said. Police said it took only three minutes for the thieves to carry out their operation at ”Le Pharaon” casino in the central city of Lyon — located just down the street from the headquarters of Interpol, the international police agency.

Dongah Official Gets 22-Year Jail Term for Embezzlement

A Seoul district court sentenced a former senior Dongah Construction executive to 22 years and six months in prison and fined him 10 billion won, Friday, after finding him guilty of embezzling 190 billion won ($160 million). The court said Park Sang-doo dealt a serious blow to programs to revive the bankrupt builder and seriously damaged creditors of the company.

Park was indicted in October, 2009 on charges of appropriating 190 billion won in 2004 and spending the money to buy properties and to gamble in casinos in Macau and other countries. “Park spent a considerable amount of the embezzled money on gambling. The degree of his moral hazard went beyond imagination,” the court said in its ruling.

Downstream Casino Officials Deny Misusing Funds

The Quapaw Tribe runs the casino and is accusing two Chairmen and a Treasurer from the Downstream Development Authority with misconduct. Our CBS affiliate in Joplin reports these allegations stem from an investigation of the casino’s financial documents. The Grievance Committee accuses the three employees of accepting excessive salaries, benefits and bonuses through their positions. The investigation shows one chairman alone took in $334,000. The report also shows misuse of development authority, citing credit card charges for suits, fine dining and tickets to sports games.

Poker player killed near Pompano casino; investigators trying to trace her steps

Investigators on Monday night were searching for answers in the slaying of a poker regular at the Isle Casino & Racing whose body was found the previous night in her minivan parked just blocks from the casino property. Broward Sheriff’s Office homicide detectives think Yvonne Oulton, 62, of Pompano Beach, went to the casino Sunday afternoon and left about 4 p.m. Later that night, Oulton’s husband and son grew concerned when they could not reach her and went looking for her. They found her dead inside her silver Dodge Caravan in a warehouse area in the 1400 block of Southwest Third Street just before 11 p.m., authorities said. Investigators on Monday would not say how Oulton, who was well-known in South Florida poker circles, was killed.

Sarasota salesman gets prison for selling stolen cars

A Sarasota car salesman who claims addictions to gambling, drugs and sex has been sentenced to three years and five months in federal prison for selling stolen luxury cars worth more than $266,000. Paul Bombard must serve the sentence after a two-year state sentence he is serving on charges including grand theft of a motor vehicle and resisting an officer with violence. Bombard, 51, pleaded guilty to three federal charges of transporting stolen vehicles. As part of his sentencing Monday, he was ordered to pay $56,405 in restitution. The Bradenton resident sold a 2000 Corvette, a Mercedes-Benz E430, an Infiniti G35, two Porsche Cayennes, a Mercedes-Benz C230 and a Land Rover to an FBI cooperating witness, the plea agreement states.

Butler gets 3 years for stealing from church

A former church secretary who pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $200,000 from a Concord Township church was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday morning in Highland County Common Pleas Court.  Last month, he pleaded guilty to the theft charge and agreed to pay $200,000 in restitution to the church. The tampering with evidence charge was dismissed by the state. The indictments indicated a period of five years in which Butler used his position as the church secretary to embezzle thousands of dollars from the church. On Tuesday, Butler’s attorney, David Pence, told the court that Butler had become addicted to gambling at slot machines and thought he could “replace the money from the church.”

ST. LOUIS: Embezzler from union sentenced

Sherell Mitchell, 46, of St. Louis County was sentenced Thursday to six months of house arrest, five years’ probation and 200 hours of community service for embezzling more than $110,000 from the account of Communications Workers of America Local 86823. Mitchell, the local’s former secretary-treasurer, wrote checks to herself and took cash, prosecutors said in January, when Mitchell pleaded guilty in federal court in St. Louis of embezzlement. She lost most of the money gambling. On Thursday, Mitchell apologized and said that her gambling addiction “got totally out of control.” Mitchell and her family have already repaid $50,500 of the money, her lawyer, Bill Margulis, said. Mitchell will have to repay the whole amount, and U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel kept Mitchell out of prison so she would be more likely to do so more quickly.

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


Florida passes gambling compact with Seminole Indians despite major opposition

Casino Watch Focus has been reporting on the dealings between the Florida Legislature and the Seminole Indians regarding a gambling compact.  After Gov. Crist’s last deal was voted down in committee, Florida has been hard at work to find an agreement including entertaining ideas of full scale Vegas Style gambling. Now it appears that a new compact has been agreed to and will be ratified into Florida Law, despite much opposition.  An online Tampa source reports:

Over the objection of Christian groups and warnings that this will be the death knell to the parimutuel industry, the House’s Select Committee on Seminole Indian Compact Review passed the bill to ratify the gambling deal that will guarantee the state $1 billion in gambling revenues from the Seminole Tribe for the next five years. The vote: 15-3.

“Those of your who perceive this as an entree to competition are missing the point,” he said. “The competition is there. What is the alternative?”

But Bill Bunckley, of the Florida Baptist Convention, disagreed and called it a major expansion. “If we weren’t expanding gambling, there wouldn’t be additional dollars on the table to come to the state of Florida.”

Ken Plante, lobbyist for Tampa Bay Downs, called it “The biggest expansion of gambling in this state without a vote of the people. It will probably put parimutuels out of business in this state.”

Nathan Dun of Florida Family Action also made statements that outlined exactly how dangerous this compact would be for the families and how the agreement violates the principles of government that the Florida Legislature abides by.  Dunn testified:

This is a pro-family issue, because at the core, families are affected when significant enough percentages of our citizens become addicted to gambling, play until they go bankrupt and pursues criminal activity to fund their addictive habit.  I also wanted to point out that with every piece of legislation that comes through this body, members are encouraged to evaluate the proposed legislation in light of eight guiding principles of the House of Representatives.

One of those principles is to “Balance the state budget.”

I suggest to you that it is irresponsible to consider balancing our state’s budget by depending upon gambling revenue. It is morally wrong to balance the state budget on the backs of the most financially vulnerable in our state, especially our elderly citizens. Dr. Earl Grinols, who appeared before this committee, pointed out from his research that for every dollar of revenue you get from increased gambling, $3 must eventually be spent on increased expenses related to crime and social services. By ignoring this fact, it is fiscally irresponsible to vote for this bill in violation of your own principle.

To read the complete statement, please visit Florida Family Action here and for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION.