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

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