A Brief Look at Crime 5/17-5/23

Korean found dead in La Union beach resort

A Korean was found dead inside a rented room in a beach resort in La Union province early Friday. Radio dzXL reported Heon Chang, 45, was found hanging inside the room at the resort in Poro village in San Fernando, La Union. The Korean was rushed to a nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival. Police said their initial investigation indicated the victim may have committed suicide due to P127,000 in unpaid bills at the resort, and P300,000 in losses at the casino.

ST. LOUIS > EX-WORKER GETS 21-MONTH SENTENCE FOR EMBEZZLING

Robin Stockstrum, 40, of St. Charles, the former office manager of a Troy, Mo., car dealership, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison Friday for embezzling $247,000. Stockstrum used cash belonging to Jim Trenary Chevrolet for car payments for herself and relatives, as well as using the company credit cards for personal use. At the sentencing hearing, general manager Jack Gonzales said that while the business has now recovered, “It really put the dealership in peril.” Stockstrum’s lawyer, John M. Lynch, said that Stockstrum suffered from a gambling addiction. Stockstrum waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a felony wire fraud charge in January. In addition to the 21-month sentence, she was ordered to repay the money.

NJ indictment accuses 34 reputed Lucchese crime family members, associates of racketeering

Thirty-four alleged members and associates of the New York-based Lucchese crime family — including two high-ranking leaders — have been indicted in New Jersey. The indictment announced Friday by New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow includes first-degree charges of racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering. The indictments stem from an investigation into an illegal gambling operation that handled billions of dollars in wagers, primarily on sporting events, and relied on extortion and violence to collect debts, authorities said.

Former manager of Ark. waste district admits fraud

The former executive director of the Upper Southwest Solid Waste Management District has admitted taking more than $756,000 from the district. Joe Ball II pleaded guilty Thursday to three federal mail fraud charges in federal court in Texarkana, Ark. Ball began to cry as he told U.S. District Judge Harry Barnes he took money from the district for more than 10 years to support “a horrible gambling addiction.” Ball’s attorney says the gambling took place at Oaklawn Park horse racing track in Hot Springs. Ball faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced following a pre-sentencing report that’s expected to take six to eight weeks.

Former TJ Employee Admits To Stealing Money

A former employee of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology pleaded guilty May 6 to stealing more than $279,000 in funds intended to support functions like student athletics, clubs, prom and graduation parties  Susan Thanh Litwin worked as a financial technician at Jefferson for a little over three years. She acknowledged taking money in chunks ranging from $2,500 to $35,000 from various school accounts during the period of March 1, 2008 to Jan. 25, 2010. According to the press release, Litwin used some of the funds to support a gambling habit, pay off a mortgage on her Woodbridge home and cover extensive personal debt.

Sunset District Accountant Sentenced For Defrauding Investors Of $34 Million

An accountant who had an office in San Francisco’s Sunset District was sentenced in federal court today to 20 years in prison for defrauding 292 middle-class investors of at least $34.5 million. The prison term given to Roberto Heckscher, 55, of San Mateo, by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston was the maximum allowed by law for a mail fraud count to which he pleaded guilty in October. Illston said, “I find this was the worst kind of fraud because the people who came to Mr. Heckscher relied on him and were totally deceived. “This isn’t just investment fraud but a loss of retirement and life savings. That makes it particularly cruel,” the judge said.

Evelyn Fahnbulleh, who said she was introduced to Heckscher by a neighbor and lost her life savings of $187,000, said, “I’m destitute, penniless, without a cash reserve.” Prosecutors charged Heckscher spent an unknown but substantial amount of the investors’ money in a “secret, second, sordid life of gambling in the casinos of Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Atlantic City.” Defense attorney James Reilly claimed that Heckscher spent no more than 10 percent of the lost investments on gambling. But Daniel Irving of Chico, who said he lost $1.7 million, said he accompanied Heckscher on lavish gambling trips to Las Vegas. “He was gambling bigtime. He lived another lifestyle” there, Irving said.

Murder trial underway in St. Charles for man accused of stabbing ex-girlfriend

A man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend with a screwdriver is on trial in St. Charles today. St. Charles CountyProsecutor Jack Banas began his opening statement with words he said Taylor uttered before stabbing Mallow 22 times with the screwdriver: “You ripped my freaking heart out.”

Mallow, whose husband had died in a hunting accident several years earlier, began dating Taylor in September 2005. They had an on-again, off-again relationship, Banas said.   She invited him to move in with her sometime early in 2007, family members said, but that arrangement lasted a only a couple of months. Taylor was not working, they said, and Mallow kicked him out of the house. Banas said Taylor told police he had a gambling problem.

Banas said Taylor confessed to officers that he stabbed Mallow and told them he had taken her jewelry. Taylor put the jewelry in a plastic bag and tossed it out the window of his truck near Highway 40 and Highway 94, he said. Investigators found the jewelry where Taylor told them it would be, Banas said.

Memphis lawyer disbarred over children’s trust fund theft

A Bartlett lawyer suspended in March after he was charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a children’s trust fund now has been disbarred. James M. Hoots was arrested in February. He was charged with felony theft of property for allegedly stealing some $76,000 and gambling it away at the Tunica casinos. The Tennessee Supreme Court announced Tuesday that Hoots has consented to disbarment because he cannot successfully defend himself on a complaint of misappropriation of funds.

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

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