Monthly Archives: December 2010

A Brief Look at Crime 12/20 – 12/26

Lobbyist pleads guilty in Alabama gambling probe

The lobbyist for a shuttered Alabama casino has admitted his firm offered millions to legislators in exchange for support for pro-gambling legislation. Jarrod Massey pleaded guilty Monday in the corruption probe that has resulted in charges against a dozen lawmakers, lobbyists and casino developers. His assistant previously pleaded guilty. Massey’s plea agreement says he offered a state senator $1 million for a favorable vote, and he authorized his assistant to tell the lawmaker as much as $2 million of Gilley’s money was available.

Man sentenced in shooting of Ind. postal carrier

A federal judge ordered the sentence Monday for 44-year-old Brook Abebe for the July 2009 robbery at a Chase Bank branch on the city’s southeast side.  Postal carrier Robert Norman of Franklin came into the bank during the robbery and then went out the front door after Abebe fled through the back. Authorities say they collided outside and that Abebe shot Norman during a struggle. The Daily Journal reports Abebe apologized in court, saying that gambling and alcohol problems led him to commit the robbery.

Ex-RI official gets 46 months on drug charges due to gambling addiction

A former Providence highway superintendent who once served prison time for extortion has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison on federal drug charges. Edward “Buckles” Melise of Johnston was also sentenced on Monday to three years of probation and ordered to undergo gambling addiction counseling. The 60-year-old Melise pleaded guilty in June to charges of conspiracy to distribute hundreds of prescription painkiller oxycodone pills.

Sarno, co-defendants found guilty in racketeering trial

Reputed mob boss Michael “The Large Guy” Sarno smiled warmly Wednesday afternoon as jurors filed into the courtroom bearing the verdict in his racketeering trial. But his grin melted quickly as U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman began ticking off their decisions, a string of guilty verdicts against Sarno and his four co-defendants.

Jurors needed a little more than two days to reach their verdict, finding Sarno and his four co-defendants guilty on each of a total of 15 counts. During the five-week trial, prosecutors outlined how the Sarno crew ran a lucrative — and illegal — video poker racket, pulled off a string of armed robberies that spanned three years and four states, and protected their gambling franchise by planting a bomb in front of a Berwyn business that encroached on their turf.

Union embezzler sentenced to 3 years’ probation

A former high-ranking official with a public employees union in Milwaukee has been sentenced to three years’ probation for embezzling $180,000 in union funds.  Paula Dorsey, former president of District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, also was ordered by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa to repay the amount she embezzled, according to federal court records.

Dorsey denied wrongdoing when first contacted by the bank, according to the plea agreement, but a few days later, she admitted to the union’s executive director that she had used the funds to finance her gambling, mostly at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee. Soon after, she presented herself to the U.S. attorney’s office.

3rd man in BetOnSports case gets probation

The sentence for a third man involved in the international online betting firm BetOnSports leaves just one figure in the case unresolved. Norman Steinberg pleaded guilty to conspiracy on Thursday in St. Louis. He was sentenced to probation and fined $10,000. Previously, BetOnSports founder Gary Kaplan was sentenced to three years in prison and agreed to forfeit nearly $44 million. And CEO David Carruthers was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.  BetOnSports was an offshore sports wagering business based in Costa Rica. Carruthers admitted in his guilty plea that the company falsely portrayed Web-based gambling as legal and caused customers to lose millions of dollars.

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


UPDATE: Senator Reid’s Online Gambling Bill is dead

Casino Watch Focus reported that Senate Leader Harry Reid was attempting to legalize internet gambling by attaching a bill during the lame duck session to important legislation that would almost certainly pass.  However, ESPN has reported that his bill is dead and that Internet Gambling will remain illegal:

It’s been a whirlwind of excitement since the first rumors that Sen. Harry Reid would be passing online poker legislation during the lame-duck session of Congress, but that excitement halted immediately Wednesday night. According to multiple sources, the bill will not be voted on or attached to another bill during the last few days of this session.

Three anti-online gambling supporters — Spencer Bachus, Dave Camp and Lamar Smith — will be heading some of the most powerful committees in Washington when House of Representatives reconvenes for business in 2011. As mentioned on ESPN Inside Deal, the key to the industry will be the availability for payment processors to do their jobs and if the Department of Justice amps up their enforcement regarding the UIGEA, those processors might be too cautious to serve the U.S. market.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/13 – 12/19

Gambling may have sparked Minneapolis killing

Several hours before Mario D. Combs was shot several times and fell face-down near a garbage can in north Minneapolis, there had been a dice game, according to court papers filed on Tuesday. When the game ended, Richard Antwon Mayes-Lindsay was angry that he had lost money, court records say. He now stands accused of second-degree murder in the Dec. 10 fatal shooting of Combs, whose body was found by Minneapolis police shortly after he was shot.

Nun accused of embezzling $1.2M from college

Sister Susie, as Thornton was known on campus, has pleaded not guilty and is free without bond. Her lawyer, Sanford Talkin, declined to comment on what the newspaper called “suspicion in the Iona community that she was a gambler who frequented Atlantic City casinos during her years at the school. “The college did not report the theft to police, the paper said. It was reported to the Internal Revenue Service in May of this year in the college’s tax forms. The filing said an employee had stolen about $80,000 a year in small amounts by signing fraudulent checks and using a college credit card.

New Mexico Woman Leaves Children In Truck While Gambling

Pennsylvania is not alone with this problem. This week, a New Mexico woman waived her right to a preliminary hearing after she was arrested for leaving two children in a truck in freezing weather back on November 29th. The children were ages nine and five. The temperature was said to be thirty degrees. Kenny contends that she thought Smith was outside in the car with the children, and that she did not know they were unattended. The children were taken by the authorities and their whereabouts have not been revealed since they are both minors.

Man who scammed dozens for $4 million gets 10 years in jail

A man whose last known address was in Northampton got 10 years in federal prison Monday for scamming 50 people out of more than $4 million.  Robert Sturman, 57, was a former insurance agent who lured his clients and their family and friends into a pyramid scheme and other investment scams.  In 2008, Sturman told a district judge in Bucks County that he was a compulsive gambler. A large number of Sturman’s victims were teachers in Bucks County and Philadelphia, according to court documents. Some of them lost their life savings.

Gunman robs Bellagio of $1.5 million in chips

In the wee hours Tuesday, a man on a motorcycle pulled up to the Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas, ambled over to a craps table, and just a few minutes later left with $1.5 million worth of chips. Luck had nothing to do with his windfall. But it was certainly a gamble, and Las Vegas police are now in pursuit of him for armed robbery. About 3:50 a.m., the man sped away from the casino on his motorcycle, toting chips ranging in denomination from $100 to $25,000. Police said he wore a motorcycle helmet and carried a handgun. The robbery took just minutes to pull off.

Ex-CFO of Maryland Legal Aid sentenced to 30 months

A tearful Benjamin L. “Bennie” King Jr. apologized to his family and former employer Legal Aid before being sentenced to 30 months in prison Tuesday for embezzling more than $1 million from the organization over a decade. Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm Joseph Jr., who spoke passionately about the betrayal felt by Legal Aid and the needy people it helps, said he accepted the judge’s sentence. “It’s another step in getting this horrific experience behind us,” he said.  Joseph said the stolen $1.14 million could have been used to offer legal help to lots of people over the years, including those most in need — the victims of abuse, the elderly and children. King kept 85 percent of proceeds, which he used on gambling and strip clubs. Jackson, who received a 15-month sentence in November for his part in the crime, took a 15 percent cut of proceeds.

Man Accused In Gambling House Shootout Appears In Court

Aaron Awtry, accused of shooting a Greenville County Deputy during a gambling raid, appeared in court today for a pre-trial hearing. Investigators say Awtry wounded a deputy when he fired from inside a home in November, turning the raid into a shootout. Sheriff Steve Loftis said in November Awtry was shot by members of the Vice and Narcotics Unit as they attempted to serve a warrant on what he says was a gaming establishment.

Six Defendants Sentenced for Illegal Gambling Operation

Kansas City, MO – infoZine – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that six defendants were sentenced today, in separate but related cases, for their roles in a $3.5 million illegal gambling business that relied on a Web site with a computer server located in Costa Rica. These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul S. Becker and Jess E. Michaelsen. They were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.

Parents gambled while kids starved

A couple who gambled in Macau while their three children were left to starve at home were placed on 12 months’ probation  for child neglect. The children, aged 20 months to nine years, were found by social workers after  two of them failed to attend classes in September. Sha Tin Magistrate Pang Chung-ping yesterday chastised Liu for failing to fulfill her parental responsibilities, and said she was spared from a jail sentence mostly because she is due to give birth next week. “Did you think about your three children left unattended at home when you were gambling in Macau?” Pang asked Liu. “No, because I was too much into gambling at that time,” she replied.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/6 – 12/12

Police identify suspect killed in St. Petersburg game room shooting

Two recently released convicts went to a game parlor Tuesday night to rob the place, police said. They ended up in a shooting instead. Police said Robert Lee Dawson, 29, was armed and wearing a mask when he entered the 16th Street Game Room. It appears a customer fired first, hitting Dawson in the neck. Police found Dawson dead in the doorway. Lathierio M. Golden, 23, was shot in the hand and never fired his weapon, police said. He fled and was arrested at a hospital. He faces charges of second-degree murder, armed robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Former CEO of nonprofit gets year in prison for theft

On Thursday, the former president and chief executive officer of Diversified Industrial Services was sentenced to a year in prison after admitting he stole from the company. “Obviously, I owe a lot of apologies to a lot of folks,” he told a Snohomish County Superior Court judge Thursday. Storkel and Sandra Adams Ball, the company’s former finance director, received the same one-year prison term. She was sentenced in September. Together, the pair took cash advances totaling more than $110,0000. That not only was in violation of company policy, they also failed to repay the money. Storkel blamed his downfall on a gambling addiction.

Besides the theft, the pair failed to pay more than $100,000 in payroll taxes. “We almost lost our building,” Mack told the judge. It also has been difficult dealing with the bad publicity. The company has been around for more than 40 years and employs about 125 workers, many with developmental disabilities.  “Gambling took over his life” and crushed him financially, Duncan said.

Cresswell jailed for fraud

FORMER AFL star Daryn Cresswell has been convicted of two counts of aggravated fraud and sentenced to three years’ jail, suspended after 10 months. The former Sydney Swans player and Brisbane Lions assistant coach admitted dishonestly obtaining more than $300,000 from the National Australia Bank through forged loan applications. The court heard Cresswell had created and used the fake title deeds of a Coolum Beach property to gain loans of $80,000 in 2005 and $240,000 in 2006. He has previously said a gambling addiction led him to lose everything he had.

DA charges suspended lawyer Crawford in theft

The Clark County district attorney’s office has filed a criminal complaint against suspended personal injury lawyer Douglas Crawford, accusing him of stealing more than $354,000 from several clients. Crawford, 55, once a regular on KVBC-TV programs, told the State Bar during his disciplinary proceedings that he stole the money to support gambling, alcohol and drug addictions. The Supreme Court said he also suffered from depression. The Supreme Court ordered Crawford to continue to meet weekly with his psychiatrist and to attend regular gamblers anonymous meetings. The high court also ordered Crawford to make nearly $400,000 in restitution to his clients. In an Oct. 4 interview with detectives, Crawford acknowledged that he was “horrible” and had “hurt people.”

Woman ignores son’s pleas and jumps to her death

A 10-year-old boy’s pleas to his mother not to jump went unheeded as the woman leapt 13 floors to her death from a block of flats in Jalan Tun Dr Ismail here. Residents were alarmed when they heard the boy crying and screaming hysterically. Another resident claimed that Loh said she wanted to commit suicide due to her husband’s gambling habit.

US Launches Operation Jackpot to Seize Illegal Gaming Devices

The US authorities launched “Operation Jackpot” earlier this week, in which at least 13 different locations in Georgia were raided and illegal gambling devices seized. Fifteen people were reportedly arrested and the police confiscated hundreds of video gambling and slot machines in the operation. Operation Jackpot involved at least 150 officers from a number of departments, including the FBI, the US Marshals Service and even the Immigration Customs Enforcement.  “It’s a huge investigation,” said Sheriff Kem Kimbourgh. The police arrested the owner of a gambling machine manufacturing plant called All Star. Larry Lee Simmons also owns The Cedar Room in Riverdale, which wasn’t spared a raid by authorities either.

N.J. woman pleads guilty to stealing $500K from student government

A 48-year-old New Jersey woman who used to work for the New Jersey City University pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing more than half a million dollars from the student government. Shaunette R. Moody of Jersey City worked as the student government office manager and used the group’s bank account to write more than 200 checks to her husband and at least three other Jersey City residents. Over three years, the group allegedly stole and laundered $502,117.They used the money “to purchase goods and services for their own benefit, including entertainment and gambling in Atlantic City,” according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 11/29 – 12/05

AP: Broncos’ Kenny McKinley deep in debt before suicide

Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley had a gambling problem and was deep in debt when he committed suicide on Sept. 21, friends and family told authorities during a probe into his death. Detectives also determined that McKinley had spoken about suicide with at least three of his friends, including former Broncos backup quarterback Tom Brandstater. Brandstater told investigators that McKinley had a “major gambling problem” and that he told him that he owed $40,000 in Las Vegas. He said the two of them had dinner for 10 straight nights in May trying to “hash out ways to fix it.”

Brandstater told investigators he eventually lent McKinley $65,000 and that he nearly emptied his bank accounts to help out his friend. McKinley was supposed to send Brandstater $7,500 from each paycheck but hadn’t paid back any of the money, Brandstater said.

Man Dies In South Stockton Shooting

Police said the victim was taken to San Joaquin County General Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds. Officers said the victim was in his 20s, but did not release his identity. Investigators said the shooting appears to be gang-related, but it may have been a result of an argument about gambling. Officers said the attack happened near where a lot of street dice games and drug deals take place.

227 football bookie arrested were involved in betting 2010 World Cup

A total of 227 football bookie arrested were involved in betting football betting during the 2010 World Cup in June. Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the arrests are also involved amounted to RM417.9 million cash deposit. “Eight of the cases that gambling betting prosecuted,” he said in a written reply to Hee Loy Sian (PKR-Petaling Jaya Selatan) who wants to know the number of successful football bookie was arrested and taken to court during the 2010 World Cup. Regarding the efforts to prevent gambling betting football in this country, Hishammuddin said, the police formed a special team to handle the movement of illegal activity.

Woman loses gambling game, sells relative’s baby

A 23-year-old woman who lost in a gambling game was arrested in Caloocan City after she sold her relative’s six-month-old son on Tuesday, to pay her dues, a police official said. Chief Inspector Marcelo Mariano, substation 2 head of the Caloocan City police, said that the mother of the child, a resident of Sto. Cristo, Balintawak in Quezon City, had entrusted her baby to Marilyn Ramos so she could run errands without leaving him alone in the house.

Former Camp Fire USA exec sentenced to 51 months for embezzlement

A former Camp Fire USA executive director will serve two consecutive sentences totaling 51 months after he pleaded guilty to stealing more than $390,000 from the nonprofit for his gambling addictions. Camp Fire president Mike Morgan spoke on behalf of the victims who were affected by Burney’s actions, saying that the 450 children who participate could have been in better programs “if Mr. Burney had not made the money his own.

“We ask that you send a message to those who choose to steal from nonprofits that this type of crime doesn’t pay,” he told Junell. Burney was sentenced to 27 months for the bank fraud charge and 24 months for the aggravated identity theft charge. He will be sent to a prison near Fort Worth, where Junell also recommended he receive mental health treatment and counseling for gambling addictions.

Official pleads guilty to fraud

A former Ministry of Economy and Finance official pleaded guilty to charges of forgery and embezzlement during a hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, claiming he had stolen more than US$600,000 of state money to fund a gambling addiction. “I acknowledge and confess  my guilt for embezzling state funds, which I did alone with my skillful extending of numbers and correcting numbers on checks,” he said.  “I embezzled state funds … took this money and lost it gambling at Naga casino for my addiction, [I did] not take the money for supplying my family or other interests.”

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


** ALERT ** Senate Leader Harry Reid is attempting to legalize internet gambling

Casino Watch Focus reported that with the midterm elections swinging the balance of power back to the republicans, Rep. Barney Frank’s bill to legalize Internet gambling was essentially dead in the water. The Wall Street Journal reported that Senate Leader Harry Reid will pick up where Rep. Frank left off in an attempt to make good on those who helped financially pave the way for his recent election:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s year-end to-do list includes top priorities for the constituencies that helped him eke out a narrow victory last month over former Nevada state legislator Sharron Angle.

Gambling interests and casino executives gave the senator more than $700,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, ranking fifth among all industry contributors. His biggest single benefactor: MGM Resorts International, whose executives and political action committee gave Mr. Reid more than $190,000 in combined campaign donations, according to the same data. Harrah’s Entertainment ranked fourth, with more than $83,000 in campaign contributions.

Senate Leader Reid is proposing a bill to repeal the ban on internet gambling and it ensures that casinos and horse tracks have the right to exclusively operate online gambling sites for the next two years. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Senate Leader Reid is considering attaching his bill to “must-pass legislation” before the end of the legislative session:

Several other people lobbying for the bill said they believe Mr. Reid may still try to get it attached to must-pass legislation. “Until Congress adjourns I am not saying it’s dead,” said John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance.

Mr. Reid’s idea of moving an online poker bill that would heavily favor Nevada casino companies  has stirred up a tempest in Congress’s final days. While investors in casinos and slot machines grew excited, several Republican lawmakers disparaged the legislation as preying on “the weak and the vulnerable.”

Now, an online source is reporting that Senator Reid has decided to leave the tax extension bill alone and will instead use a spending bill that could pass to push his legislation.  For more information including urgent action steps, please visit the Casino Watch Internet Gambling Alert page here or at:

http://www.casinowatch.org/internet_gamb/sen_reid_attaching_gambling_bill_to_tax_cuts.html

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


A Brief Look at Crime 11/22 – 11/28

Indian gets 39-year jail for slaying Nepali schoolgirl

A 43-year-old Indian, who had been working in Nepal as a teacher, has been sentenced to 39 years behind bars for the gruesome murder of his student last year, after which he cut up her body into pieces and dispersed them in several districts to escape detection.

The heart-wrenching story started in June after Pradhan, a gambling addict, ran up huge debts in Kathmandu’s casinos and began looking for money desperately. He knew Khati and her family closely as at one time, they had been his tenants and he had also taught her in private. The bright student was planning to go abroad for further studies and Pradhan came to know that her parents had raised a substantial sum of money for that.

Eyeing the money and considering Khyati’s family an easy target, he coerced Merina to call the girl up on her mobile phone, telling her she had been selected for a cash prize and a free trip to Pokhara city by a well-known women’s magazine. Merina then met the victim and brought her to Pradhan’s new rented digs where though surprised to see him, she accepted a cold drink offered by him, unaware that it was heavily laced with sedatives. As she fell unconscious, Pradhan hit her repeatedly with an iron rod and began chopping up her body.

Pradhan was arrested after Khyati’s mother, who had gone to the Indo-Nepal border to pay the ransom, came across him in a hotel and her suspicion was aroused. He confessed to having killed Khyati and was held in Kathmandu’s Central Jail that also houses Nepal’s most notorious convict, alleged French serial killer Charles Sobhraj.

Family of 4 commits suicide in Naroda

Four of a family – husband, wife and their two children, committed suicide by hanging themselves at their residence in Naroda on Saturday night. Preliminary investigation by the police revealed that financial crunch and mounting debts compelled them to take such an extreme step. The deceased were identified as Rajesh Unakar, 42, wife Vandana, 37, daughter Khushali, 17, and son Bhasmang, 14. Officials said Rajesh was working as a senior machine operator in a private company in Naroda GIDC.  “We learnt that Rajesh was involved in gambling and cricket betting and had incurred a huge debt in such dealings.

Charges laid in Bonnyville woman’s killing

Mary Jane Corbiere, a Bonnyville woman known as Ella, was last seen  Oct. 2 and was reported missing by family members Oct. 11. RCMP located human remains in Kehewin on Monday. As a result, RCMP  have laid a second-degree murder charge against Jesse Colton  Leppanen, 19, of Elk Point. Corbiere’s family in Bonnyville said she was living on the streets  for nearly 10 years and suffered from an ongoing gambling addiction.

Former Lottery inspector admits lying to feds

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A former inspector with the West Virginia Lottery Commission admitted Wednesday that she lied to investigators about taking money from a former state delegate who ran an illegal gambling ring in West Virginia and Kentucky.  Carolyn A. Kitchen, 55, of Chapmanville, admitted that she lied to investigators with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service when they questioned her about her involvement with Joe C. Ferrell in February 2008.

Ferrell, 63, pleaded guilty to racketeering and tax fraud charges last month. He said he helped Kitchen, whom he had known since she was a teenager, get her job with the Lottery Commission, knowing that she would bend the rules for the machines owned by his company. “He would call and ask me to come out after hour to fix [Southern Amusement’s] video lottery machines,” Kitchen said Wednesday.

Former boxer Keely Thompson charged with fraudulently spending $500,000 in D.C. anti-gang funds

A conviction on the charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Thompson was not required to enter a plea and was released until a Dec. 9 hearing. A well-known D.C. boxer who fought professionally as a lightweight in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Thompson was executive director of Keely’s District Boxing and Youth Center in Columbia Heights and Kenilworth. The center, serving youths from ages 8 to 18, has received more than $1.4 million in District funds for at-risk children since 2004. Prosecutors charged that between 2004 and 2010, Thompson used the boxing center’s debit card to spend $150,000 on cruises and gambling in Atlantic City, losing more than $140,000 at Bally’s casino alone.

Another accused of faking cancer charged with fraud

British Columbia woman has been charged with fraud after telling friends she had cancer. Tina Michele Sammons, from the Victoria suburb of Langford, is the fourth person to be accused of faking cancer in recent months. Ms. Sammons, 37, was arrested on Thursday and faces four counts of fraud over $5,000 for allegedly collecting $300,000 to pay for bogus cancer treatments. Ms. Harvey said she also suspected her friend had a gambling problem because Ms. Sammons frequently went to the View Royal Casino and played $7 and $14 slots. Sgt. Jantzen confirmed an addiction may be factor in the case.

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