Monthly Archives: February 2011

A Brief Look at Crime 02/21 – 02/27

Wife torched Vietnam journalist over money

Police said Monday the wife of a Vietnamese journalist confessed to dousing him in gasoline and torching him in his sleep – a killing his colleagues initially feared was revenge for his investigative reporting. International media rights groups were outraged at the attack after initial reports said someone broke into the bedroom through a window to set Le Hoang Hung on fire. The 50-year-old reporter worked for Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper, and colleagues feared someone upset by his reporting on corruption or smuggling investigations had targeted him. However, State media say police determined Tran Thi Thuy Lieu, 40, gambled frequently and had argued with her husband over money. Hung, 50, died Jan. 29 after 10 days of treatment for third-degree burns covering 20 percent of his body. Monday’s Labor newspaper quoted unidentified police sources as saying Lieu wanted to warn her husband after a dispute over money and did not intend to kill him. Police have determined that she lost over 1 billion dong ($47,000) during 22 gambling trips to neighboring Cambodia in December, the report said.

Woman jailed for stealing $230,000

Diane Thistle, 63, of Beverly will spend the next seven months at the women’s correctional facility in Framingham for stealing $230,000 from the Beverly Hospital cafeteria, where she worked for more than 14 years. Thistle’s lawyer, Glen Hannington, had asked for home confinement, while the state had requested that she serve the two years in prison. On release, Thistle must repay all the money, reveal her conviction to any future employer, undergo an evaluation for gambling addiction and get counseling if necessary, according to Harry Pierre, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.

Former banker jailed for stealing $962,000

A former Corner Brook bank manager has been sent to jail for two years, less one day, for stealing almost $1 million from an elderly client. Margaret Ann May, 53, of Summerside pleaded guilty to one count of theft over $5,000 when she appeared in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador on Dec. 6. In her role as manager of client care, she began dealing with the account of the senior citizen in 2002. The victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, had been in receipt of quarterly dividend cheques from another banking institution which were sent to the Royal Bank. May would deposit between one-half to two-thirds of these cheque amounts into the woman’s savings account and take the rest in cash withdrawals, which were concealed. Seaborn heard that May admitted to using the money for personal purposes and that she also had a gambling addiction and lost some of the stolen money through her gambling activities.

Man dies after marathon gaming session

A man in his thirties has died after a three-day gaming binge at an internet cafe outside Beijing, during which he did not sleep and barely ate. The Beijing Times said the man was taken to hospital after falling into a coma, but could not be revived. The paper says the incident highlights China’s ongoing battle to stamp out internet addiction, which affects tens of millions of people.

Cecil man imprisoned for stealing $913,000 from employer

A federal judge today sentenced a Washington County man to two years and nine months in prison for stealing more than $913,000 from his employer. John J. Tain, 40, of Cecil pleaded guilty in October to embezzling the money while he was controller for UBICS Inc., an international information technology company in Canonsburg. His lawyer, Joseph Fox, said Tain stole the money because he’s a pathological gambler and is sorry for betraying the trust of his employers and his families. “Due to his own actions, he has lost everything. He has lost his family, his livelihood, his home and his freedom,” Fox said.

Nine charged in gambling debt killing

Nine men are facing execution for stabbing a man to death in a labour camp who refused to pay gambling debts.  The nine defendants, all from Pakistan, appeared today before the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance charged with murdering another Pakistani on August 8, 2010, in a labour camp in Abu Dhabi. Prosecutors said they killed him after he lost money gambling and refused to pay. The nine men then attempted to force him to pay using knives and sticks, prosecutors said, eventually killing him.

Moscow Takes Down 388 Illegal Casinos in less than 2 Months!

Moscow is not messing around. When they said that all illegal gambling casinos would be shut down throughout Moscow they meant it. They have now shut down over 380 illegal casinos in less than 2 months and it just goes to show how prevalent illegal gambling is in this foreign country. Since the banning of all gambling across Russia except the four that are in remote locations, illegal casinos have blossomed everywhere in protest of this harsh gambling ban. One case that has caught the eye of the world is the illegal gambling ring that was busted recently involving the Russian Mafia and the prosecutor’s office and has now launched investigations into prosecutor’s offices all across Russia.

A gambling-addicted family commits murder-suicide

A couple and their daughter who were all found dead on Tuesday in their home in Gyobingauk Township in Pegu Division were victims of a murder-suicide, according to authorities. Ti Pwar, 39, and his wife, Kay Khine Win (aka) Mee Nge, 37, sold lottery tickets and regularly gambled on soccer matches and were burdened with large debts that totaled at least 300 million kyat (US$337,078), said sources. Authorities said the couple first killed their daughter, Pon Pyace Sone, 3, and then committed suicide. ‘The day before the incident, their creditors were seriously demanding to be paid, and they forced the couple to sign  bonds. They didn’t know how to handle it. That’s why they committed suicide’, said an official.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 02/14 – 02/20

Deaf charity hit by fraud

Leanne French was once respected for her work with the charitable Hearing Association, raising money to help deaf people. Now, the stylishly-dressed bookkeeper has admitted stealing $282,000 while working for the charity in Auckland, to fund a secret gambling habit. As she broke down in tears, a judge was told she had put the hearing of a generation of young New Zealanders at risk. Through a bank error French had become the sole signatory for Hearing Association cheques, and had forged 143 cheques to place in accounts in her own name. She had also forged independent annual audits, using a false name. Reading a victim impact statement, Hearing Association board member Stewart Keen told French her victims included a “whole generation of people” not exposed to messages that could prevent hearing loss.

Ex-NFL quarterback Schlichter charged in $1M theft

Former Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter, whose NFL career was derailed by a gambling addiction, was charged Monday with stealing more than $1 million from a 68-year-old woman in suburban Columbus. He took the money in cash, checks and credit card charges, according to the charge, which could also involve higher penalties because the woman is considered elderly under Ohio law. More charges are also likely against Schlichter, probably in federal court, his attorney said Monday without offering details. Schlichter, who played for Ohio State between 1978 and 1981, spent 10 years in prison for gambling-related crimes. He played for the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills, and the Detroit and Cincinnati Arena League teams. The NFL has suspended him for life.

Magazine Publisher Charged With Internet Gambling Money Laundering, Fraud

Magazine publisher Don Hellinger has been charged – along with six others – with illegally distributed over $40 million in Internet gambling winnings during the years 2005 and 2006 through a money transfer company, Payment Processing, Inc. The investigation was handled by the United States Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia. Hellinger’s company is also alleged to have run a telemarketing scam during that time period. Hellinger and his associates could face up to 91 years in prison if convicted of all crimes. His company publishes Nylon, Inked, Surface and Tokion Magazines. 

$140,000 rip-off by restaurant manager

A restaurant manager created an elaborate scheme so he could steal nearly $140,000 from his employer to feed his gambling addiction. Vijay Singh, 30, was sentenced in Tauranga District Court yesterday to 21 months behind bars after earlier pleading guilty to one representative charge of theft. In early 2008, Singh was working as a maitre d’ at the Tauranga Lone Star Restaurant and in April that year was promoted to manager.

Police: York County couple embezzled from school board association

A northern York County couple is awaiting arraignment in county court for allegedly embezzling $66,000 from the Pennsylvania School Board Association last year. According to Fairview Township Police, Stacie L. Carmines, 41, who worked for the school board association for more than 10 years, and her husband, David N. Carmines, 39, took the money between August and November 2010. Investigators determined Stacie Carmines created an account payable provider in the association’s database in her husband’s name. Using that provider, Stacie Carmines generated “numerous business checks for thousands of dollars on a regular basis,” according to the couple’s arrest affidavits. Stacie Carmines told police they cashed the checks and used the money to gamble, according to court documents.

CNBC Pundit Brian Kim Suspected in $4 Mill Ponzi Scheme

New York authorities have yet to catch up with CNBC analyst and New York hedge-fund operator, Brian Kim, who is reportedly at the center of a $4 million Ponzi scheme, and apparently laying low. The 35-year-old was indicted on grand larceny and other charges for an alleged fraudulent plan that began eight years ago, in which he swindled at least 45 West Coast investors out money from his Manhattan offices, reports the New York Daily News Kim allegedly used the money to pay for extravagant shopping sprees, ski vacations, credit card bills, gambling trips to Atlantic City and car payments, officials said. If convicted, Kim faces up to 25 years in prison.

Smyrna man gets 15 year in investment scam

A Smyrna man is sentenced to 15 years in prison for defrauding investors in an investment scam. The state Attorney General’s office says 40-year-old Thomas Dolby solicited funds that he claimed would be invested in a real estate development project in Turkey. A Delaware investor complained to the Attorney General’s office, and an eight-month investigation revealed a sophisticated scheme where Dolby collected $419,000 from seven investors in two states. The funds weren’t invested, but were used by Dolby for personal expenses and to fund a gambling addiction. Records showed that from July, 2008 through July, 2009, Dolby wagered more than $950,000 in bets in two Delaware casinos.

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

Penny Auctions Sites: the New Online Gambling Risk?

Many websites are advertising incredible and unbelievable deals on expensive products such as High-definition Televisions, Apple iPads, GPS’ and even high-dollar gift cards at a fraction of their cost.  Known as Penny Auctions, these sites have consumers bid on these items until the time runs out and the person who placed the last bid wins.  It sounds like normal eBay-type auction sites, so how do  they work or differ?  The Delaware News Journal explains the process:

The auction is announced on the website. Typically, hundreds or even thousands of auctions are held simultaneously. The terms of the auction are detailed, for example, a six-hour auction with each bid adding 1 cent to the price. Each additional bid made in the last 20 seconds of the auction resets the clock to 20 seconds remaining. Bidding often is slow until the waning minutes. With 20 seconds to go, the top bid might be only $1 or $2. But every time the clock nears zero, another bidder ups the price by a penny. Finally, only one bidder remains, and he or she wins the iPad, which has a list price of $500, for whatever the final tally is, maybe $25.

This process seems harmless enough, but how can the company make any money selling a $500 retail item such as an iPad and still make money?  There’s a catch, a very costly and potentially dangerous catch.  Each bid placed costs money, typically between 50 cents and two dollars depending on the site.  So unlike eBay where the losers of the auction simply lose out on the product, each and every person who places a bid is at risk of losing their money. The News Journal further explains the iPad example:

Since every bid costs 50 cents, and it took 2,500 bids to reach $25, the auction site takes in $1,275 ($1,250 in bids plus the $25 winning bid). Assuming the site paid full retail price for the iPad, it makes a $775 profit.  The winning bidder gets the iPad for $25 plus the cost of the bids he or she made and shipping. The other bidders, some of whom may have spent $100 or more on bids, walk away empty-handed.

But even the winner might not come out ahead of the game, advocates suggest. Say the winner bid $25 and used $50 in bids. At $75 for a $500 iPad, that still seems like a good deal. But that doesn’t take into account all the money in bids the winner spent in auctions he or she didn’t win. Add that in, and the deal might not be so good. In fact, it could mean that he or she spent more than the retail cost of the iPad. “It is just a gimmick. They get you caught up in it. It is like gambling.”

The psychology of Penny Auctions functions the same as the lottery or slot machines, put in a little to win a lot.  People will also chase after an auction because they have invested money and don’t want to lose it, just like they do with slot machines or with a poker hand.  Penny Auctions are simply gambling at the core and the consequences can be just as addictive and devastating.  These sites have been called gambling sites disguised to look like a typical auction, the dangers are just as real, and this might be just the beginning of a new potential gambling risk:

In November, an Oregon man filed a federal lawsuit alleging that one of the largest auction sites,, was really a gambling site masquerading as an auction site. The suit seeks class-action status and asks for damages for everybody who lost money at the site.

Brian Kongszik, help-line director for the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, said penny auctions really are thinly disguised gambling sites. “They are risking something in an event of uncertain outcomes, which is gambling,” he said. Kongszik said the council had only had a few calls from people seeking help because of penny auctions. Still, he said, he could definitely see the attraction for problem gamblers. “I can see people losing a significant amount of money on these and getting caught up in it, in the rush. It is a rush.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/7 – 02/13

Suspect in fatal Quincy shooting turns himself in to authorities

The suspect in Sunday’s fatal shooting in Quincy turned himself in early Friday morning at the Gadsden County Jail.  James Wyatt McGriff, 35, surrendered about 1 a.m., said Lt. Larry Gilyard of the Quincy Police Department. He was arrested on charges of homicide and illegal possession of a firearm.  He’d been wanted since after the shooting, which happened in the back yard of a residence in the 500 block of Lincoln Street. Gilyard said McGriff got into an argument with Othis Harley, 42, who died after being shot once. The two had been gambling just before the argument occurred, Gilyard said.

Alabama casino lobbyist outlines bribe offer

An imprisoned former gambling lobbyist said Monday he made cash payments for years to one Alabama state lawmaker and offered a $1 million bribe to another, testifying in his first court appearance Monday since pleading guilty in a government corruption probe. Former Country Crossing lobbyist Jarrod Massey spoke at a bond revocation hearing for Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley, one of about a dozen people snared in the investigation. A judge did not immediately rule whether Gilley could remain free.

Massey, wearing a yellow prison outfit, handcuffs and leg chains, said he paid $1,000 to $2,000 in cash monthly to former state Rep. Terry Spicer, D-Elba, for six or seven years in return for him helping Massey get lobbying clients, including Gilley, while Spicer was serving in the Legislature. Massey said he also gave Spicer $9,000 to buy a boat.

Former Ely official pleads guilty to embezzlement

A former three-term city councilman in a rural northern Nevada town has pleaded guilty in Las Vegas federal court to embezzling at least $3.7 million from a bank where he once worked. U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said 43-year-old Stephen Marich of Ely, Nev. entered his plea Monday before U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson. Marich was vice president of the First National Bank of Ely. He stole the money over about 10 years and used some of it to make transfers to offshore online gambling enterprises. Marich resigned from his post on the Ely City Council in January 2010 during the investigation.

Reno woman sentenced for exploiting her elderly mother

A 60-year-old unemployed Reno woman who said she wanted to financially “ride her mother to death” was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for exploiting more than $202,000 from the elderly, widowed woman. Flanagan ordered she indeed pay restitution of $202,609.87 on top of her 10-year prison term, and have no contact with her 83-year-old mother. Vargas will be eligible for parole after serving more than four years in prison. She used her mother’s money to fund her gambling problem and to pay bills, police said.

Gambling at root of Grand Rapids bank embezzlement

A Grand Rapids-area woman says gambling led her to embezzle about $600,000 from Huntington Bank. Jo Anne Wierenga pleaded guilty Monday in federal court. She told a judge that gambling caused her to steal money for seven years at a Huntington branch in Grand Rapids. Authorities say Wierenga took money from customer accounts and the vault. She remains free on bond but must stay away from casinos and attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings. Wierenga will receive her sentence on May 9.

Port St. Lucie man charged with fraud after depositing $110,050 into 3 SunTrust accounts

Investigators charged a Port St. Lucie man with committing a scam involving a couple of banks, three people from Minnesota and more than $110,000. Dale Richard Prescott, 51, of the 100 block of Southwest Christmas Avenue, was charged with organized fraud of more than $50,000. Authorities in Minnesota also made three arrests in the case.

Between September and November, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said Prescott deposited checks totaling $110,050 into three SunTrust checking accounts registered to three Minnesota residents. Prescott did not have the money in his accounts at other banks to cover the checks, but the three Minnesotans would withdraw the money before the checks cleared, the Sheriff’s Office said. Bank records showed some of the withdrawals were made at casinos, detectives said.

Two persons arrested for abetting suicide of youth

Two persons were today arrested on charges of abetting suicide of a man in Sahibabad area near here. The accused identified as Kuldeep and Devender allegedly drove Sanjay, who owed them Rs 1,500 after losing in a gambling game, to commit suicide. Sanjay later committed suicide on Februray 4 at his residence in Sahibabad.  Sanjay”s maternal uncle Mahender had earlier lodged an FIR alleging that the accused had looted money from the victim. The police, however, has booked the duo on charges of abetting suicide.

Man Dies After Rooster Attack During Illegal Gambling Bust

Illegal cock fighting rings pop up all over the US, but rarely do any of them lead to a death of a human being. This week, a man in California was killed after being attacked by a rooster. Luis Ochoa was one of the men that was attempting to flee the scene after authorities raided an illegal gambling cock fighting operation. Ochoa was attacked by a rooster during the flee attempt, and the animal sliced Ochoa’s calf. Ochoa, according to reports, was trying to catch the rooster when a razor blade attached to the roosters leg sliced an artery in Ochoa’s leg. Tulare County Sheriff’s Sgt. Martin King called the incident an “unfortunate accident.”

PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker at Center Stage of $275 Million Scam

A Utah man has been implicated in a $275 million scam victimizing customers through the world’s two largest online poker rooms, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.  The parent company of Full Tilt, Tiltware LLC, has been cooperating with authorities.

Jeremy Johnson, a local philanthropist, is alleged to have gambled away victims money by playing Internet poker even after being ordered by the FTC to preserve assets.  Johnson and his company is believed to have lured customers into obtaining trial memberships for sham services and then repeatedly charging their credit and debit cards monthly fees for the worthless services.

In addition to the online poker rooms, Johnson is believed to have gambled a portion of the monies away at Wynn Las Vegas, The MGM Grand and MGM Resorts in Las Vegas. Johnson said he was addicted to gambling but has curtailed his gambling.  In a deposition, Johnson claimed he did not consider playing poker to be gambling.

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

Possible online gambling in Florida

Casino Watch Focus Reported that New Jersey’s Legislature passed regulations to legalize online gambling.  The move is contingent on the Governor approving the legislation, but it was a step that many believe will encourage other states into adopting similar regulations. An online source is reporting Florida might be one of those state to follow New Jersey’s lead:

While some Florida legislators talk of setting up Las Vegas-style casinos in a few years, others suggest there’s a way to immediately raise gambling revenues with a click of a mouse. They want to allow horse and dog tracks and jai-alai frontons to have portals to online poker rooms, with the state getting a cut of the revenues.

Under the proposal, up to three poker sites would contract with the state as hubs, with the websites of Florida’s 23 pari-mutuels’ card rooms each acting as a portal. To participate, players would click on a pari-mutuel site and go into a pool of other Florida players. The hubs would pull a small piece for each poker pot, called “the rake” in poker parlance, and pass it on to the card rooms. The state would get 10 percent of each card room’s rake, as it does now in brick-and-mortar poker rooms.

If the Florida legislature did push a proposal forward, there would be far reaching gambling expansion implications given the compact with the Seminole Tribe.  Any gambling legalized and allowed by the state, becomes legalized gambling for the Seminole Tribe.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/31 – 02/06

Vietnamese Gambling Ring Out of San Diego on America’s Most Wanted List

A Vietnamese-American gambling ring is accused of cheating 29 casinos throughout the US out of close to $7 million.  The group was profiled on a local San Diego news station Saturday night and is listed on the regional America’s Most Wanted bulletin. Last week, female ring leader, Van Thu Tran, 45, plead guilty to racketeering charges. Tran faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, along with forfeiture of any profits from the scheme. The scheme reportedly included bribing dealers and supervisors to do false shuffles” during blackjack and mini-baccarat games.

Gambling addict who faked cancer sentenced to 3 years

B.C. gambling addict who faked cancer to dupe her husband, in-laws and friends out of hundreds of thousands of dollars is going to prison. Langford resident Tina Michele Sammons was arrested in November on four counts of fraud over $5,000. She pleaded guilty in a Victoria court, and was sentenced Thursday to 36 months in jail, less two months for time served.

Sammons received roughly $350,000 since early 2009 after telling her family she was in a losing battle with the deadly disease and required costly private cancer treatments in the U.S. She was exposed after her brother-in-law grew suspicious and hired a private investigator to check up on her claims. By the time she was arrested, her parents-in-law had already contributed roughly $280,000 to pay for cancer treatments Sammons never received, putting themselves $100,000 in debt.

Quincy police investigating homicide, man shot friend during gambling session

The Quincy Police Department has yet to release the name of the man involved in the shooting death of 42-year-old Otis Bernard Harley. However, Quincy Police Lt. Larry Gilyard confirmed that Harley was gambling with a friend in the friend’s backyard when he was shot. Harley’s friend was upset after losing a round of gambling and fired the gun. “We’re in the process of issuing a warrant for his arrest,” Gilyard said. “Once the warrant is signed we’ll have more details.”

Police officers found Harley Sunday evening shot in the backyard of a house located at 546 Lincoln Street. Gadsden County Emergency Medical Services transported Harley to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. A search of Florida Department of Corrections and Gadsden County clerk databases shows that Harley was charged with and convicted of various felonies throughout the last two decades.

Man Leaves Baby in Cold Car While Gambling

Farmington/Rochester, N.Y. – Monday, about 4:30 p.m., a Rochester man was arrested gambling in a Farmington casino while his 7-month old child was alone in the car, according to Ontario Co. Police. Police said another patron heard the baby cry and called security who removed Clint R. Vanepps’ baby from the car. The temperature was 15 degrees; the car was turned off. The car seat was covered in a light cloth. Police said it appeared to be an attempt to hide the baby from the view of others. Vanepps, 25, was located in the casino and arrested only after the baby was safe. He’d been gambling for about an hour, police said.

Billngs man admits defrauding Wyoming insurance company

A former Billings claims adjuster admitted Tuesday that he helped to defraud a Wyoming insurance company of about $150,000. “I spent most of it on gambling,” Ryan Paul Shipman, 37, told Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull. Shipman pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud during an arraignment in U.S. District Court in Billings. Shipman said he and another person stole about $150,000 from Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., headquartered in Laramie, Wyo., and split the proceeds. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr said the scheme ran from October 2008 through September 2010. Shipman worked for Mountain West as a claims adjuster and handled property and casualty claims for policy holders.

Gambling addict faces jail after stealing £7.5million worth of poker chips

A GAMBLING addict faces jail after stealing £7.5million of poker chips and selling them cheaply online.  Ashley Mitchell, 29, hacked into US poker firm Zynga’s web system and transferred 400 billion gaming chips. The IT expert, of Paignton, Devon, admitted five charges of fraudulently obtaining a total of £10,000 in 2009. Exeter crown court ­considered 41 similar offences which made him £43,310 more. Remanding him in custody, the judge said: “It is ­inevitable you are going to prison.” Sentencing is next month.

Tax collector gets jail time for stealing more than $200k from taxpayers

A former Jenkintown tax collector is headed to jail for stealing more than $200,000 in taxpayers’ money to fuel his gambling addiction. Michael Henry O’Neill, 51, of Rodman Avenue, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to 10-to-23-months in the county jail, to be followed by five years’ probation, after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received in connection with incidents that occurred between January 2009 and January 2010. Judge William J. Furber Jr. also ordered O’Neill to pay $252,376 in restitution, which includes the amount that was stolen plus the costs of an audit that had to be conducted by the Jenkintown School District during the investigation.

Accountant Embezzled 5.4 Million to Finance Blackjack Gambling Sprees

A 57 year old New Zealand accountant plead guilty to stealing more than 5.4 million dollars over a ten year period from his employers and life long friends to spend on high stakes blackjack. A 57 year old Auckland, New Zealand accountant executive pled guilty to two charges of grand theft for embezzling $5.4 million over ten years from a family-owned business group, who considered him ‘a part of the family’. The chief financial controller, who enjoyed a $300,000 yearly salary as well as $50,000 bonuses, gambled the stolen money as well as his salary over the past 10 years at SkyCity casino’s VIP high-roller blackjack card games.

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

Las Vegas Casino Companies Pitched plans to the Florida State Government

Casino Watch Focus reported that with Gov Scott’s position on gambling coming into question, Florida State Senator Dennis Jones has put forth legislation to consider Vegas style designation gambling casinos.  Now the St Petersburg Times is reporting that two companies pitched ideas to the Senate Regulation Industries Committee:

Andy Abboud of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Michael Britt of Wynn Casinos presented a glossy slideshow of their properties to members of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. The Las Vegas Sands has been on a two-year crusade to bring its resort-style casinos and convention space to Miami. Miami is “underserved by convention and trade show space,” Abboud said, but added “we’re open to the entire state.”

Under the proposal being pushed by Sands, the state would allow for exclusive operation of five casinos within a 75-mile radius. Voters in each of the regions would have to approve the casino and then a five-member commission would choose which casino operator gets the bid. The casinos would pay a $50 million application fee and be taxed at a rate lower than the state’s parimutuels, which now pay 35 percent of their earnings.

Both companies realize they need Senator Jones’ legislation to pass and they must offer up plans that are far more aggressive and large scale than what the state is allowing currently. As part of their efforts, the companies have increased their political presence by joining key groups and hiring well connected gambling lobbyist:

The Sands has hired six lobbyists and paid an undisclosed amount to become a member of Associated Industries of Florida, whose president Barney Bishop is now lobbying on behalf of destination gambling resorts. Wynn Casinos has hired Al Cardenas and two members of his lobbying team, including Lanny Wiles, a former aide to Gov. Rick Scott. Genting Berhad, the growing Malaysian casino giant, is in negotiations to hire a lobbyist who works with another Scott aide, Chris Kise.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/24 – 01/30

Astros pitcher Carrillo arrested at Fla. Casino

TAMPA, Fla. (AP)  — Houston Astros right-hander Cesar Carrillo has been charged with trespassing after police say he was told to leave the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. Seminole Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner says Carrillo left the casino when initially warned but came back 15 minutes later, so tribe police arrested him early Saturday. Bitner would not say what prompted the incident. The 26-year-old was released from the Hillsborough County jail hours later after paying the $500 bond. The Astros had no immediate comment on the incident.

William Cammisano Jr. and Michael Lombardo get a year in prison for sports betting operation

After William Cammisano Jr. and Michael Lombardo found out that the feds were investigating them for running an illegal sports gambling operation, both men told their bettors to talk with the feds. This came from the Star‘s coverage of the sentencing of Cammisano and Lombardo, who each received sentences of a year and a day for their roles in the $3.5 million operation. Lombardo’s attorney, Michael Yonke, told the court: “He reached out to his two bettors to say, ‘I’ve been contacted by the FBI. They’re going to contact you. Do what you have to do. Tell the truth and don’t do a bunch of time for me.'”

Kansan convicted in phony casino chip case

A 38-year-old Kansas man accused of passing more than $100,000 worth of counterfeit chips at a Missouri casino has been convicted on two federal charges. A jury in Kansas City returned the verdicts Monday against Zhe Li of Wichita, a naturalized U.S. citizen from China. Li formerly lived in the Kansas City area. Prosecutors said he presented more than 1,000 counterfeit $100 chips at the Argosy Riverside Casino in late 2008. The jury found Li guilty of evading federal reporting requirements by depositing proceeds from the scheme into checking accounts in small amounts. He was also convicted of lying about his assets in applying for food stamps for himself, his wife and two minor children.

DCSO officials seize nearly $200,000 in illegal gambling bust

Cars, cash, computers and other items were seized after officials with the Darlington County Combined Drug Unit busted an illegal organized gambling operation Saturday. Capt. Andy Locklair, spokesman for the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office, said the search was conducted at a home along E. Billy Farrow Hwy in Darlington. As a result of the bust, more than $180,000 in cash was seized, along with poker tables, computers, four vehicles, poker chips and cards. 30 people received citations for unlawful gaming and betting, a misdemeanor that carries a fine up to $500.

$400,000 theft earns gambler 2 1/2 years’ jail

A woman in the grip of a gambling addiction has been jailed after feeding more than $400,000 from her brother’s business into pokie machines.  She had pleaded guilty to fraud charges, after systematically taking $452,909 from her brother’s  Paraparaumu company between 2003 and 2010.  Lawton’s lawyer Elliot Lynch said she spent all the money on pokies. “She was not supporting a lavish lifestyle. She was not driving around in flash cars. She has a serious gambling problem, and her offending was fuelled by that.”

Man who lost almost half-million gets seven-year sentence

A 25-year-old Peoria man who gambled away almost a half-million dollars of other people’s money has been sentenced to seven years in prison by a Champaign County judge. O’Neill pleaded guilty in November to financial identity theft over $10,000, admitting that between March 2007 and August 2008, he took out almost $100,000 in student loans in the name of his then-fiance and lost the money gambling. In 2009, O’Neill was convicted of theft in Peoria County for stealing from his own father during roughly the same time he was stealing using his fiance’s name. He was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to repay his father $108,981, even though he admitted owing his dad about $400,000 for gambling debts.

Reno woman gets probation in elderly exploitation case after stealing more than $330,000

Reno artist Peggy Viola Six, 64, befriended a woman 18 years ago while they were neighbors at a local trailer park. Six, who described 88-year-old Gayle Savage as a mother figure, helped her buy a home and a vehicle after Savage received a large inheritance in 2004. But once Savage developed dementia in July 2008, Six’s greed “reared it’s ugly head and she took advantage of Gayle Savage,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Karl Hall. As a result, Savage is in a state-run nursing home in Carson City instead of being able to afford home health-care and own pets, he said.

In less than one year, Six and Reno real estate broker Robin Benjamin, 65, stole more than $330,000 from Savage’s bank accounts and unlawfully sold her Southeast Reno home. Six gambled more than $500 a day with Savage’s money, purchased a motor home for her personal travel, and used the rest to invest in her artistry business and other ventures suggested by Benjamin.

Woman accused of stealing $1.5 million from small firm to feed gambling habit

A longtime bookkeeper for a small Chicago machinery company embezzled more than $1.5 million from the business and gambled most of it away on high-end slot machines at Indiana casinos, Cook County authorities charged Thursday. The 41/2-year string of thefts by Julie Nowaczyk nearly forced ENR General Machining Co. into bankruptcy, said Assistant State’s Attorney Nicholas Trutenko. When the company’s owners confronted her last summer, Nowaczyk admitted the thefts and said she had spent all the money. “You don’t have the problems I have,” prosecutors quoted her as saying.

Nowaczyk lost more than $1.4 million gambling at three northwest Indiana casinos, mostly on slot machines costing $25 to $50 a pull, authorities said. The owners, brothers Richard and Eugene Szydlo, took out mortgages on their homes and put up their own savings to meet payroll and make up for 401(k) payments to employees that Nowaczyk pocketed, according to prosecutors. “They are distressed that this has really, really hurt their business,” Trutenko said. “Even with the mortgages and putting in their own money, they still might have to lay people off.”

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