Monthly Archives: September 2010

Guest Article: “On Making Monkeys of Public Officials”

A special guest article by Dan Hite the chairman of MOCAGEMissouri Clergy Against Gambling Expansion:

Like the proverbial monkey that won’t let go of the rice in the narrow-necked gourd, the lure of a non-tax revenue stream traps most “narrow-minded” officials into approving casinos for their jurisdiction.  Yes, I said narrow-minded, tunnel-visioned public servants who have their eye on one thing–easy money (not unlike the gambler himself).  The official does not see the bigger picture of entrapment and becoming complicit with those who exploit the poor and also put at risk the social and economic stability of a region.  Statistics show that taking into account the social and overall business impact of a community, a casino brings a negative cash flow rather than a positive one. For those communities, quality of life takes a nosedive.  Crime increases, more families are fractured, school budgets are shifted, and mom and pop businesses disappear. Officials are elected to make responsible decisions that reflect the big picture of a successful community, not just the financial bottom line. They have a moral responsibility to protect the community and promote a wholesome atmosphere where local families and businesses can thrive.  Can anyone describe casinos as wholesome and family oriented? Casinos suck more life and money out of a local economy than they put into it.  Most of the casino revenues leave town.  Remember, the house ALWAYS wins…because the gamblers lose…that’s how casinos stay in business; and that’s bad business as far as I’m concerned. Don’t let this kind of monkey-business into your neighborhood.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 9/13 – 9/19

Arrest Made In Sedalia Woman’s Slaying – Kansas City, MO

A gambling addict wanting money and valuable jewels led to the brutal slaying of a Sedalia woman, according to court documents. [The victum], 76, was found dead on her dining room floor Tuesday by a caretaker. “A large brown-handled knife” was plunged into her chest and she suffered severe facial and head injuries, according to court documents. [She] was an invalid who was always on oxygen, authorities said. Daniel Maschger, 44, of Lee’s Summit, has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and armed criminal action, authorities told KMBC. He is being held in the Pettis County Jail.

2 held in killing of Hawaiian Gardens casino gambler

Santa Ana police have arrested a man and a woman on suspicion of murder in connection with the robbery-killing of a gambler on his way home after a winning night at a Hawaiian Gardens casino. Police said Tad Carroll, 41, and Barbara Hamel, 47, of Long Beach were in a 2001 Pontiac on Sept. 3 when they allegedly cut off Bui as he was driving with a female passenger in Santa Ana. A fight broke out between Bui and Carroll on the pavement, and Carroll allegedly drew a knife. During the skirmish, $20 bills came flying out of Bui’s pocket onto the street. Police said Carroll then got back into the Pontiac, where Hamel was behind the wheel, and she allegedly proceeded to run over Bui.

Woman gets prison in Detroit school cash theft

A woman who admitted stealing nearly $380,000 from Detroit Public Schools later told investigators that she also took $252,000 by issuing checks in the names of dead people. Prosecutors say Toni Gilbert didn’t fully inform investigators until June, and by that time it was too late to pursue an accomplice because of the statute of limitations. The disclosure was made in court documents filed ahead of Gilbert’s sentencing on Thursday. The former Detroit schools employee was sent to prison for two years, six months less than what the government recommended. Defense attorney Kimberly Lewis says Gilbert had a gambling problem in the past.

Jailed gambling addict stole £300k

A  judge has hit out at online gambling and credit companies after jailing a  Co Tyrone man who fleeced his bosses of more than £300,000 to fuel his  addiction to internet betting. Dungannon Crown Court Judge David McFarland described it as “a moral tale of  almost Biblical proportions” as he jailed 27-year-old Eamonn McGirr for 20  months after he agreed to serve a further 12 months on probation.

McGirr, from Richmond Drive in Clogher, admitted charges of fraud. He stole  the money over a two-year period from Tyrone Tiling Services in Omagh.  Judge McFarland said online gambling companies needed to look at how they did  business, pointing out that people with |addiction problems could —  apparently unchecked — gamble away thousands of pounds with a single click  of a mouse.

Accused Coon Rapids swindler commits suicide

A Coon Rapids man accused of romancing a Wisconsin woman out of $112,000 in savings and money from the sale of her house has committed suicide, authorities said Monday. When a police officer answered the 911 call to the home from his wife, family members were attempting to revive him, Wise said. Emergency responders took over resuscitation efforts before Pool was taken to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, according to the captain.

[He] was charged in June with felony theft. By that time, the money of the 51-year-old alleged victim was gone, most of it used to fuel his gambling addiction, according to the Eau Claire County district attorney’s office. “Her life-blood’s savings were completely sucked dry from this guy,” Assistant District Attorney Gary Schuster said Monday. “She now has had to work 20 years longer.” The woman, who lived in Altoona, Wis., at the time, turned over her money after [he] made empty promises of marriage and lied about having cancer, according to the criminal complaint.

Underage Cubs Baseball player strikes out at St. Louis casino

Chicago Cubs rookie shortstop Starlin Castro may be old enough to play Major League baseball but he’s not old enough to gamble. News4 has learned that Castro was involved in a violation of Missouri gaming laws at Lumiere Place Casino on August 13th. The Cubs were staying at the Four Seasons Hotel and after their game that night with the St. Louis Cardinals, Castro and some of the players went downstairs to Lumiere Place Casino.

According to the Missouri Gaming Commission, a security guard failed to check Castro’s identification which would have shown that he’s only 20 years old. In less than 10 minutes another employee noticed he looked young, asked to see his ID and realized Castro was too young to be in the casino. Lumiere and other St. Louis area casinos have been fined for violations of underage gambling laws earlier this year.

Gambling, theft charges filed against director of Saline Co. program for abused children

The director of a program for abused children in Saline County has been arrested for embezzlement and running a gambling house.  Prosecutor Ken Casady says 54-year-old Jackie Perkins of Little Rock faces theft and gambling charges. Perkins is chief of the Court Appointed Special Advocates office in Saline County, which lines up and trains volunteers to help child victims of abuse and neglect. Casady says the investigation revealed that Perkins ran a supposed charity bingo parlor that was in fact an illegal gambling house. She also is accused of misappropriating agency funds.

Police: Official stole $233,000 from township for gambling

State police say a former township secretary in Erie County charged with stealing nearly $389,000 from the town’s coffers blew most of the money gambling. Damon Hopkins, the defense attorney for 62-year-old Nancy J. Brown, of Springfield Township, says she has cooperated fully with investigators and is being treated for a gambling addiction. The township’s supervisors fired Ms. Brown in June after it was discovered that she allegedly stole the money by writing checks to herself from a township payroll account since January 2002. After police interviews with Mr. Brown, she was charged Tuesday with forgery, theft, and receiving stolen property.

St. John’s University fundraiser accused of pocketing $1M to hit casino, shop, pay for law school

A St. John’s University fund-raiser stole $1 million from the Queens college to bankroll casino trips, Victoria’s Secret.  shopping sprees and her son’s law school tuition, prosecutors say. Cecilia Chang , 57, was held on $1million bail after her arrest Wednesday for grand larceny, forgery and falsifying business records. Chang, who faces 25 years in prison, pocketed a $250,000 donation sent to the school from a charity run by one of the world’s richest men, billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, prosecutors say.

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

Florida election could be key to online gambling legislation

Casino Watch Focus reported that Rep. Barney Frank is pushing a bill to legalize online gambling and that it was voted out of committee and opened up to debate.  The bill is expected to be tabled until after the new year because of the mid-term elections.  One area of concern for Rep. Frank is Florida.  An online gambling site explains:

Representative Barney Frank has introduced legislation that would overturn the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Frank’s bill would lay the groundwork for a regulated Internet gambling industry in the US, and the legislation has already passed the House Financial Services Committee that Frank chairs.

With mid-term elections coming fast, it is expected that Frank will table the online gambling bill until after the new year. If that happens, he would have to start over from scratch, which is when the Senate seat from Florida will become important in the issue.

Marco Rubio, who is firmly against gambling, will represent the Republicans in the Senate race and Kendrick Meek won the Democratic primary.  Both will run against Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who turned independent and clearly supports gambling.  This election clearly represents a swing vote as a vote for Rubio helps to preserve current legislation making online gambling illegal and a vote for Crist, and possibly Meek, represents a pro gambling position that could lead to the passage of Rep. Frank’s bill.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 9/06 – 9/12

Arrests Made Over Gambling Robbery, Homicide In Dallas

In the middle of August, an illegal gambling hall had been raided in Dallas. The raid was not enacted by authorities, unfortunately, and this time it ended in bloodshed. On Friday, the 13th of August, two young men stormed an illegal gambling hall in the 9200 block of Skillman Street in northeast Dallas. One arrest was made a week after the robbery and murder, as Damion Deqail Williams was apprehended for the murder of Warren Cooksey. The charges stand with capital murder and burglary. A bail has been imposed, and the bail will require $1,025,000 be paid in order to remove the young man from prison.

Officials: Aurora man duped investors to fund gambling habit

An Aurora man was arrested and charged today with duping a number of people out of $228,000 to fund his gambling habit by claiming they were investing in the purchase of 7-Eleven stores, officials said. Maheskumar Desai, 51, was charged with felony theft, according to a release issued by Cook County State’s Atty. Anita Alvarez. He is charged with using the money on personal expenses and to gamble and had amassed $1 million in gambling losses, prosecutors said.

Sacramento sheriff: Man arrested in slaying of horse trainer

A 26-year-old Antelope man is in custody in Kern County today, accused in the killing of a well-known horse trainer in his Watt Avenue apartment last weekend, according to authorities. The Sacramento County coroner’s office has not yet determined how May was killed, saying only that a number of factors contributed to his death, Curran said. Detectives believe he was killed sometime between the morning of Aug. 26 and the afternoon of Aug. 28, when a neighbor discovered his front door ajar and his body on the floor. Detectives do not know the motive for the killing. Initially, they investigated the possibility that May’s affinity for gambling might have played a role, but they have not determined whether that is the case, Curran said.

Gambling Robbery Goes Awry In West Virginia, Assailant Takes Bullet

A failed gambling heist in West Virginia has scored a point for civil rights, while proving to criminals that the risk is rarely worth the reward. Just after midnight on September 8th, a young male walked into Teresa’s Cafe wearing a bandana over his face. Armed with a shot gun, Chad Wehrle, 30, demanded that everyone within the establishment hit the floor. Wehrle has demanded money from the gaming establishment, a video lottery center, and was met with Resistance. Douglas James, an employee of the store, had risen from the floor with a .44 handgun and fired two shots at Wehrle, according to Johnny Rutherford, Chief Deputy of Kanawha County. Wehrle was apprehended when he went to the hospital almost an hour later in order to receive treatment for his wounds.

Ruthless Killer Murders Man For Casino Winnings

A 55 year old man fell prey to ruthless criminals after winning several thousand dollars at a Southern Californian casino on Friday.  The unnamed man had been enjoying a winning night out at the Hawaiian Gardens Casino with a woman friend and had left the casino when, unbeknownst to them, the criminals were following them close behind in a small grey vehicle with tinted windows.

Eventually catching up to them on South Andres Place in Santa Ana, the victim’s car was then cut off while one of the assailants demanded he handed over an envelope containing his winnings. A fight then ensued and the victim was robbed, knocked down and then run over while on the ground as the assailant’s escaped in their vehicle. Responding to a call at 5:30 a.m from the victim’s distraught and terrified woman friend, officers arrived on the scene but it was too late to save the man.

Married man blackmailed by former lover

A married man paid his former lover almost $250,000 over five years after she threatened to reveal their affair to his wife. The court was told Lynch met her victim via the internet in June 2005 and they began a sexual relationship. He agreed to lend her money on the understanding she would pay him back, and while she gave various reasons for needing money, she was actually feeding a gambling habit. After discovering the man was married, Lynch threatened to expose their affair unless he met her demands. She later told police she felt betrayed when she discovered he was married.

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

After September deadline, the Missouri Gaming Commission has five projects to consider for final casino license

The Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC) set a September 1st deadline for applications for Missouri’s 13th casino license.  Casino Watch Focus has reported that Cape Girardeau is the front runner, but with the issue up for vote in Cape, one of four other projects could be selected by the MGC.  The St Louis Post Dispatch has summarized those applicants being considered:

• Casino Celebration, a group led by the Koman family, which wants to build a $115 million casino in north St. Louis, just south of the Chain of Rocks Bridge. It has the support of the city of St. Louis, and last week struck a deal with Great Rivers Greenway. Jim Koman also co-owns the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.

• North County Development LLC, which has proposed a $350 casino and hotel complex in Spanish Lake in north St. Louis County. It could be the biggest casino on the table, but it has drawn strong opposition from local environmentalists. St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley has said he opposes the plan, which could be a major hurdle.

• Isle of Capri Corp., which would put a $125 million casino in downtown Cape Girardeau. The Creve Coeur-based company appears to be the largest casino operator applying in Missouri. Cape’s city council voted to endorse the plan last week, but city voters will decide in November if they want to allow a casino in the city. A no vote would likely doom the plan.

• Epic Gaming LLC, which is proposing a casino in Sugar Creek, east of Kansas City. Epic is a Las Vegas-based group of experienced casino executives, but no details of their plan in Sugar Creek have yet been made public.

• Sunway Gaming LLC, which is also proposing a Sugar Creek casino. The Kansas City-based group has worked on Indian casino projects around the country and earlier this year applied to build a casino in Iowa, according to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. No information was available on their Sugar Creek proposal.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/30 – 9/05

Big win at casino may have led to slaying, police believe

Detectives believe a man was followed home from a Hawaiian Gardens casino and robbed of his winnings before being killed on a Santa Ana street this morning. The unidentified victim, 55, had apparently won several thousands dollars before he was slain. Santa Ana police were alerted to the South Andres Place killing about 5:30 a.m. by a woman screaming for help. Arriving officers discovered a man lying in the street, having apparently been run over by an assailant. Dozens of $20 bills lay like confetti on the street. Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said the victim had won several thousand dollars early Friday at the casino.

Man Arrested for Hard Rock Rape

Seminole Police have arrested a man who they say raped a woman in the parking garage of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.  in Hollywood in April. According to Seminole Police, Chavez and the unidentified woman met at a club at the Hard Rock that night and had made their way to the 7th floor deck of the parking garage of one of their vehicles. That’s when the alleged sexual assault occurred. After an over four-month investigation, Chavez was arrested.

‘Gamblaholic’ official admits $1.2M theft

A former head of audits for an Oklahoma agency overseeing school real estate has admitted embezzling $1.2 million to feed a gambling addiction. Roger Q. Melson Jr. pleaded guilty to 174 counts Friday, The Oklahoman reported. His lawyer, Billy Bock, called him a “gamblaholic” and said he is recovering. “He doesn’t gamble anymore, and he goes to several support groups,” Bock said. “He’s been humbled.”

Couple gets jail for leaving baby in casino garage

A Northern California couple who left their newborn daughter in a casino parking garage while they went gambling are heading to jail. A Placer County Superior Court judge sentenced [them] on Wednesday to 60 days. He also ordered them to attend a mandatory parenting class as part of a four-year probation sentence that could result in their regaining custody of the baby. The couple were arrested in April after a security guard at Thunder Valley Casino found their 7-week-old infant alone in a car. Investigators determined the baby had been there for about 2 1/2 hours.

Woman gets 15 years in Md. embezzlement case

A 50-year-old former bookkeeper for a prominent local developer has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after embezzling almost $900,000 and pleading guilty to theft in Circuit Court. “The Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office treats white collar crime very seriously. This case serves as a message to those entrusted with deep responsibility that they will be punished severely if they breach that duty,” said Davis Ruark, the state’s attorney. During a January 2010 interview with investigators, Joseph allegedly told police she had a “terrible gambling addiction” for about five to six years and didn’t know how much money she had spent on lottery tickets, Keno and slot machines, according to court records.

Fire company thief given house arrest

A former treasurer of the Dupont Volunteer Fire Department was sentenced Wednesday to 14 months in the county’s Intermediate Punishment Program for stealing more than $66,000 from the hose company. Lyons’ attorney, Charles Witaconis said his client had a gambling addiction and has attended and completed Gamblers Anonymous and has signed himself up for the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board self-exclusion program. Police said Lyons, a hose company volunteer since 1996, told them he was a gambler and lost approximately $250,000. He said he had been employed by Bank of America and was terminated because corporate security was notified of returned checks in his personal bank account.

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

Cape Girardeau Council votes to endorse Isle of Capri Casino

Casino Watch Focus has reported that Cape Girardeau appears to be the location of choice for Missouri’s 13th casino license. The Missouri Gaming Commission set the deadline to receive applications for September 1stThe Southeast Missourian is reporting that the Cape Girardeau City Council wanted to send a clear message that they were serious about the obtaining the license:

[Mayor Harry] Rediger said it’s important to act now with the Missouri Gaming Commission’s Sept. 1 deadline for applications for the lone casino license available in Missouri. A Nov. 2 election will give Cape Girardeau voters a chance to allow or remove the city from consideration by the gaming commission.

“The gaming commission and everybody knows everything hinges on the vote in November,” Rediger said. “But we’re ready to move forward and promote Cape Girardeau. We want to be sure they know we’re seriously interested in obtaining that license.”

The News Tribune reported the council voted to support the Isle of Capri:

The Cape Girardeau City Council voted Thursday night to give “preferred developer” status to the St. Louis-based Isle of Capri’s proposal to build a $125 million casino. The Southeast Missourian reports that the vote came after city staff and council members said Isle of Capri officials had been open with their plans for the casino. In contrast, they said, St. Louis Capital Partners is waiting to unveil its plans until it submits an application with the Missouri Gaming Commission. Isle of Capri is proposing a casino with room for 1,200 people to play slot machines and table games, restaurants, a bar and a 750-seat conference and entertainment venue.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/23 – 8/29

18-year-old arrested in fatal shooting at Dallas gambling hall

Dallas police have arrested an 18-year-old in the fatal shooting of a doorman at an illegal gambling hall last week.  Police said they received information from a Crime Stoppers tip that [suspect] shot [the victim] last Friday night during the robbery of a gambling hall in the 9200 block of Skillman Street, off LBJ Freeway in far northeast Dallas.    [He] was arrested Wednesday and admitted that he and another man robbed the gambling hall, according to a police affidavit. They were told “they could get thousands of dollars from the location and that it would be an easy lick,” the affidavit said.

One victim, eight suspects in shooting

Eight people have been arrested and charged after an early-morning shooting at 235 Fourth Street, the location of the now closed Paradise Pub, where illegal gambling and drug use was taking place. Police have not yet identified or charged the shooter, and code enforcement officers said the building — including two upstairs apartments — will most likely be shut down. Police responded to the scene at 3:45 a.m. and found 22-year-old Demonte Miller with multiple gunshot wounds in a white Suburban. Demonte was treated at the scene and transported to Albany Medical Center Hospital where he was listed in stable condition.

Former Freehold Raceway president Donald Codey pleads guitly to stealing vouchers, helping pass bad checks

Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that Donald R. Codey Jr., former president and general manager of Freehold Raceway Park, pleaded guilty today to stealing $3,045 in raceway promotional vouchers and assisting two patrons to cash more than $1.3 million in bad checks at the track. Thomas must pay $349,080 in restitution to FR Park Racing, L.P., the owner of Freehold Raceway, and Siragusa must pay $553,660, representing the total bad checks each man cashed, less amounts previously paid or credited against the debts. Under his plea agreement, Codey is made jointly and severally liable with Thomas and Siragusa for paying those restitution amounts.

Florida Man to Plead Guilty in $880 Million Fraud

Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) — Nevin Shapiro, the former owner of Capitol Investments USA Inc. accused of leading an $880 million Ponzi scheme, is to plead guilty, court papers showed Shapiro, 41, of Miami Beach, Florida, is charged with defrauding more than 60 investors in his bogus wholesale grocery distribution business. He is accused of using new investors’ money to pay earlier ones, as well as to fund his lavish lifestyle.

Prosecutors said Shapiro stole $35 million to pay illegal gambling debts and make payments on a $5.3 million house, a $1.5 million yacht, a Mercedes-Benz and seats to Miami Heat basketball games. He also bought a pair of diamond-studded handcuffs to give to a prominent professional athlete and donated $150,000 to the University of Miami for an athletic lounge, prosecutors said.

Man shot while attempting to break into bingo hall

HOUSTON — A man was shot at a bingo hall in northeast Harris County. It happened last night on FM 1960 near Aldine Westfield.  Deputies say the man walked up to the door and smashed the door with a hammer.  A security guard fearing the safety of the customers and his own life shot at him. “There was one shot, but it was so close because as the hammer was coming up and he hit the door it was like bam, bam,” said an eyewitness. Deputies say the man was only grazed and treated at the scene.  They say he also smashed the door of a liquor store in the same shopping center.

Lister gets 15 years in Sheriff’s Office theft

A former Escambia County Sheriff’s Office employee convicted of stealing $1.4 million from the agency was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison, less than half the recommended term of 33 years. Circuit Judge Paul Rasmussen also ordered Cathy Lister, 58, to pay back the money and serve  10 years probation after her prison sentence. Testifying at her trial in July, Lister didn’t deny taking money, though she disputed that the amount was $1.4 million. She admitted to using some of the money to gamble at casinos and go shopping.

Mexican mafia member gets 35 years in prison for Coleman killing

OCALA — A member of the so-called Mexican mafia, convicted of beating and stomping to death a fellow gang “brother” at the federal prison in Coleman, has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for the killing. Most of the attack in the fenced-in recreation area was captured on videotape by surveillance cameras at the prison, the largest federal correctional complex in the nation. The beating took 47 minutes. Yazzi also was stabbed 13 times with a shank, a knife-like weapon, and died en route to a hospital. Farias and Yazzi were members of the gang, which has been linked to extortion and gambling operations in Texas, while Martinez was considered an associate of the gang, required to follow orders.

Suicide pact: 2 kids die as mom battles for life

In a tragic incident, a woman along with her two kids attempted suicide at G Konduru village in Krishna district on Tuesday. While the two children died, the woman is battling for her life in a hospital. Shaik Mastan Bi, 28, made her children Farjana, 3, and 18-month-old Karishma consume a pesticide-mixed soft drink before she herself drank the liquid. She allegedly took the extreme step after failing to convince her husband Rasool, an auto driver, not to indulge in betting and gambling.

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