A Brief Look at Crime 11/01 – 11/07

Miami police confiscates illegal gambling machines in sweep

A Miami police sweep —    dubbed Operation Lucky 7 — has confiscated 410 illegal gambling machines from city businesses, authorities said on Wednesday. The crackdown came following complaints that the popular illegal gambling machines, confiscated in a sweep several years ago, were back at some local establishments. Police spent several weeks identifying cafeterias, convenience and mom-and-pop stores and even hardware stores that had set up the machines. Most were found in Little Havana and Allapattah. The illegal and unregulated machines are games of chance and some pay out replays or points that can be redeemed for cash at the establishment.

Man sent to prison in Greektown Casino theft, death

Eugene Thomas was sentenced to prison today for causing the heart-attack death of a 91-year-old who chased him from the Greektown Casino after Thomas swiped and ran with the elderly gambler’s $244 winnings voucher.  Wayne County Circuit Judge Bruce Morrow accepted a plea-bargain agreement that called for sentencing Thomas to five to 15 years after he pleaded guilty last month to involuntary manslaughter and larceny from a person, stemming from the May 26 death of Frank Pierce of Southgate. Thomas originally had been charged with robbery and felony murder, punishable by up to life.

Self-Exclusion List Violations Lead to $40,000 Fine for PA Casino

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today fined Mount Airy #1 LLC, operator of Mount Airy Casino Resort, $40,000 for allowing individuals on the statewide Self-Exclusion List to gain access to the gaming floor and place wagers, and for sending promotional mailings to a self-excluded individual.

The Self-Exclusion Program is administered by the PGCB and assists problem gamblers who choose to ban themselves from gambling at Pennsylvania casinos. Once a person is placed on the Self-Exclusion List, gaming facilities in the Commonwealth must refuse wagers from, and deny gaming privileges to, a self-excluded person, including issuance of a player’s club membership.  The casino must also remove self-excluded persons from targeted mailings and other forms of advertising or promotions.  If an individual on the Self-Exclusion List enters a Pennsylvania casino, they will be subject to arrest for trespass.

Prosecutor: Wire taps for 2 Alabama casino owners

A federal prosecutor revealed Thursday that investigators tapped the phone calls of two casino owners and a casino lobbyist before issuing indictments in Alabama’s gambling probe. Justice Department prosecutor Peter Ainsworth said in a court hearing that investigators recorded thousands of phone calls involving VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley and that casino’s lobbyist Jarrod Massey.

Those three and eight others were arrested Oct. 4, accused of buying and selling votes on pro-gambling legislation. The indictment recounted phone conversations between some of them, but it did not reveal publicly which parties’ phones were tapped. The first public disclosure came Thursday. Prosecutors have given defense attorneys tape recordings of 3,000 intercepted calls they say are pertinent to the bribery and conspiracy charges against the defendants. A federal judge will hold a hearing Wednesday on whether prosecutors must turn over several thousand more.

Rosemount man facing felony tax charges

The Minnesota Department of Revenue announced today (Thursday, Oct. 28) that the Dakota County Attorney’s Office recently charged Rickey Pouncil, 46, of Rosemount, with five felony tax crimes. Pouncil is charged with five counts of failing to file tax returns for tax years 2004 through 2008. According to the complaint, Pouncil was involved in an extortion scheme that resulted in suicide by the victim. An investigation revealed more than $2 million in gambling activity by Pouncil in the past decade. Per state law, gambling earnings are taxable income. Further investigation revealed almost no income has been reported for Pouncil since 2002 and he failed to file tax returns when he had sufficient income requiring him to do so.

Feds Charge Nick’s Amusements for Laundering Gambling Proceeds

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland has charged Nick’s Amusements, a company whose amusement devices are placed in bars and other businesses in the Baltimore area, with money laundering in connection with illegal gambling. The one-count criminal information, filed in U.S. District Court on Oct. 27, states that “on or about December 15, 2006,” the company knowingly transferred $35,000 “in criminally derived property” from one Bank of America account to another, and that the proceeds were derived from “conducting an illegal gambling business.”

Inside N.M.’s greatest casino scam

It was a high stakes game of fraud and forgery, a casino heist the likes of which New Mexico had never been seen before. The victim: Sandia Casino. The take: More than $1.2 million. It was an inside job cooked up by two employees, slot machine attendant Lynn Gallo and slot supervisor Steve Roybal.  “Where $1.2 million went we have no idea,” Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said.

Despite security guards and surveillance cameras nobody at Sandia noticed Gallo and Roybal secretly looting the casino of thousands of dollars practically every day for more than a year in 2005 and 2006. “This particular case really shocked me from the amount of money and for how long it went on,” said Jeff Voyles, an expert in casino management who also is a gaming professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

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

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