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

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