Monthly Archives: March 2011

A Brief Look at Crime 03/21– 03/27

Gambling Crime:  Van der Sloot Played Online Poker After Slayings

Reports surfaced on Friday that murder suspect Joran van der Sloot may have played online poker immediately following the bludgeoning of Peruvian college student Stefany Flores.  Van der Sloot met Flores in a casino while attending the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) in Lima, Peru.  He later brought her up to his hotel room.  Flores body was found soon afterwards and van der Sloot confessed to the crime but later recanted.  The Dutchman is awaiting trial in the notorious Castro Castro Prison in Lima.  He is expected to plea temporary insanity as a means of serving less time behind bars. Authorities in Peru discovered his online poker activity while conducting a thorough investigation of his laptop.

Executive Fights Casino Over Debt

A Florida millionaire accused of walking out on a $1.2 million gambling debt is fighting the Mohegan Sun casino in court, arguing that the state judicial system cannot decide the case because the casino is run by a sovereign American Indian tribe.  The millionaire, Jerome Powers, chief executive of the cable network Plum TV, asked the Appellate Court of Connecticut this week to throw out a lower court’s ruling that would allow Mohegan Sun to seize his assets ahead of a potential final judgment against him. It is not clear when the Appellate Court will take up the case. In fighting the casino’s lawsuit, Mr. Powers contends that the credit agreement was an illegal gambling contract under state law and that state courts have no jurisdiction because the casino is run by the sovereign Mohegan Tribe.        

Former RV Dealer Senobio “Sonny” Rodriguez Is Sentenced in Fraud Case

BARTOW | A Lake Wales man was sentenced Tuesday to a year in prison for stealing more than $78,000 by selling customers’ campers and recreational vehicles on consignment and keeping the money. Senobio “Sonny” Rodriguez, 65, pleaded guilty to scheme to defraud as part of a plea deal. Prosecutors agreed to drop four counts of grand theft. Circuit Judge Karla F. Wright also ordered that Rodriguez pay $78,900 in restitution and serve 20 years of probation.

Detectives also discovered Rodriguez gambled at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, the report states. Rodriguez was an elite member who spent a large amount of money at this casino, the report states. He lost $434,934 from 2005 through 2008, and his total bets during that time was more than $4.4 million, the report states.  A condition of Rodriguez’s plea deal is that he must receive treatment for gambling addiction.

Gambling Addict Stole 400 Billion Virtual Gaming Chips

Ashley Mitchell stole £7 million ($11.4 million) in virtual currency from Zynga Poker and has now been sentenced to two years in jail, the Guardian reports. “He made determined and repeated efforts to attack Zynga’s systems. He succeeded and transferred 400bn chips and sold them to realise a substantial profit.” James Taghdissian, representing prosecution said. Mitchell, a 29 year old gambling addict living in Paignton, Devon logged on to Zynga’s mainframe, stole the identities of two Zynga employees and transferred the virtual currency to himself. He sold the stolen chips to other Facebook users, over the course of two months ending with a total profit of £53,612. “Gambling had complete control of his life.” said Ben Darby, defending Mitchell.

Federal lawyer took bribes

LOS ANGELES – A former Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorney was sentenced Monday to more than 17 years in prison for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to create fake documents for immigrants in a scheme prosecutors described as an epic display of a public official’s greed.  Constantine Peter Kallas, a one-time assistant chief counsel for ICE, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. to pay $296,000 in restitution after being convicted last year of 36 counts, including conspiracy, bribery and fraud. Video footage provided by prosecutors showed  Constantine Kallas smiling and taking $20,000 in cash from a man at a California casino and shoving it in his pocket amid the din of slot machines.

Live-in health aide convicted of stealing from elderly patient

JOPLIN, Mo. — A home health care aide from Webb City was assessed a suspended imposition of sentence when she pleaded guilty Friday to draining her 95-year-old patient’s bank account to support her gambling at casinos. Circuit Judge David Mouton placed Shirley M. Nally, 57, on supervised probation for five years after her guilty plea on a charge of financial exploitation of the elderly at a hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin. Nally changed her plea to guilty on an amended Class C felony count of the charge in a plea agreement with the Jasper County prosecutor’s office. She had been facing a Class B felony count of financial exploitation, which carries from five to 15 years in prison. The Class C felony count carries up to seven years.

Employees Gambling With Tax Payer Money In Baltimore

A gambling ring in Baltimore has been broken up by authorities and over a dozen city employees were arrested in the raid. The workers are accused of gambling and drinking alcohol while on the clock, something that does not sit well with Baltimore residents.  “At a time when government jobs are being cut and taxpayers are getting hit with higher bills to pay for city employees, it is awful that these workers were having a good old time at our expense,” said Haley Berger. “They should be prosecuted to show others that this is not acceptable behavior.”

Harrah’s AC fined $65K in theft, underage gambling

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. —  New Jersey gambling regulators have fined Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City $65,000 for allowing underage gambling, failing to detect thefts by a cashier and leaving cash boxes from three slot machines unattended for more than half an hour. The fines were handed down on March 8 and made public Thursday. They represent the first disciplinary action against a casino by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement since a sweeping change in gambling regulation was carried out in recent weeks.

Harrah’s did not contest the violations and agreed to pay the fines. A spokeswoman for Caesars Entertainment said the company had no further comment. The most serious violation involved casino security failing to detect four thefts totaling $23,000 by an employee in late 2008 and early 2009. A casino cage supervisor identified only as “MS” was accused of entering the casino’s main bank area while acting as a cashier when the regular cashier was gone.

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

UPDATE: Florida Destination Gambling Bill Dies After Intense Political Pressure and a Key Amendment

Casino Watch Focus reported that two Florida State Senators, Dennis Jones and Maria Sachs, filed legislation to allow five destination casinos throughout the state.  The bill was immediately opposed by the pari-mutual industry and the Seminole Tribe was quick to point out that if the bill passed, they would no longer be obligated to pay the state $250 million a year for five years.  Now The Palm Beach Post News is reporting that political pressure and a key amendment has killed the bill this legislative session:

State Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, who has spearheaded the Senate’s gaming efforts the past few years, is withdrawing a proposal to bring five “destination resorts” to the state that would have featured full casino gaming.

The decision, in the face of fierce behind-the-scenes opposition from the state’s pari-mutuel industry, likely ends the possibility of any major gambling expansion this year.

Jones’ bill died after Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, attached an amendment that would have allowed South Florida pari-mutuels to also operate as casinos – with table games and craps in addition to slot machines — with a tax rate identical to any future destination casinos.

Sen. Jones said that his intent was not to see gambling expanded at the pari-mutal level, so he pulled the bill. Even though this bill has failed, there is still time for other similar bills to get passed.  The Palm Beach Post News explained that the odds are not in the casinos favor however:

Backers of destination casinos are still holding out hope. Similar bills have been filed by state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-North Miami Beach. But supporters acknowledge they will be a tough sell, particularly in a conservative House that has fought gaming expansion in the past.

Braynon’s bill is set for a Senate committee hearing next week, but the House measure may die in a logistical snafu. The proposal was assigned to a subcommittee that House Speaker Dean Cannon disbanded after its chair, Rep. Esteban Bovo, R-Hialeah, resigned last week to run for the Miami-Dade County Commission. Cannon, who is largely anti-gaming, would need to reassign the bill to a new committee for it to move forward.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 03/14– 03/20

Gamblers stealing millions to feed habit

Australia – Gamblers are stealing millions of dollars to support their habit, a report has found. The study, by a private corruption investigation group, throws weight behind federal government moves for a crackdown on problem gambling. The study shows 190 convictions were made for cases of gambling-linked fraud between 2008 and 2010. The convictions, and 147 subsequent jail sentences, were for cases where the proceeds of crime were gambled, or where gambling debts were the motivation for crime. That crime cost employers, the tax office, Centrelink, hotels, family members and friends $77 million in stolen money, which was gambled and largely unpaid due to bankruptcy. In 12 of the cases, more than $1 million was stolen – several of these topping $5 million.

Gambling debts led to Hardin’s pursuit of financial end run at UCA, felony convictions

A day after former University of Central Arkansas president Lu Hardin pleaded guilty to federal felonies, a longtime friend of Hardin’s says gambling debts led to Hardin’s fall. Businessman and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Sheffield Nelson said Tuesday that a crush of casino debt left Hardin in the position of needing a large amount of cash quickly  Hardin pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering for allegedly forging a document that convinced UCA trustees that Hardin could make an early draw on a $300,000 bonus. Hardin was Arkansas Higher Education Department director before becoming UCA president in 2002. Nelson says he believes Hardin has overcome his gambling problem. Now Hardin is awaiting sentencing. The maximum penalty for his offenses is 20 years in prison.

Investigation into former Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels for gambling, theft keeps growing

A day after NYPD and baseball investigators interviewed Mets players and employees about Samuels’ links to illegal gambling and allegations of theft, Queens DA Richard Brown sent grand jury subpoenas to several sports memorabilia auction houses seeking information about bats, balls and jerseys the former Met clubhouse manager allegedly stole from the team.  The Mets suspended their longtime employee on Oct. 27 after learning that Samuels was being investigated by the NYPD’s Organized Crime and Control Bureau for providing inside information to gamblers, taking money from Mets bank accounts to cover gambling losses – and for stealing memorabilia from the clubhouse. He was fired in November.

Ex lawyer ordered to pay $637k for breach of trust

A former Melbourne lawyer who stole from clients to pay for a gambling addiction, has been ordered to pay $637,000 to the Legal Services Board for breach of trust.  Gabriel Werden lost his right to practice law and was sentenced to almost six years in prison in 2006. He was convicted of a string of theft charges and obtaining financial advantage by deception, after admitting he stole $1.1 million from nine clients. Werden claimed he was being threatened by loan sharks, who were helping to pay for his gambling addiction at Crown Casino. The Victorian Supreme Court this morning ordered Werden to pay the Legal Services Board $637,000 for breach of trust.

Greed earns three years

The disgraced former London teacher was dealt a three-year prison sentence Wednesday and ordered to repay $800,000 he robbed from London-area school boards, high school sports and students. McConnell, 56, oversaw the Thames Valley Region Athletic Association (TVRAA), which co-ordinates high school athletics in the London region, and defrauded the system as he fueled a gambling addiction and lavished improvements on his home. “Mr. McConnell stole more than $836,000 while he brazenly lied to the TVRAA and misrepresented the financial picture and needs of the athletic programs, issuing warnings of increased costs and cutbacks and user fees, spending the money to his own benefit,” said Ontario Court Justice Eleanor Schnall during her hour-long sentencing decision.

Woman takes more than half-a-million dollars to pay off gambling debts

Sandra Chilton, 46, of Turner’s Station, Ky. previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Chilton admitted to U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves that she took approximately $648,525 from her employer, Pioneer Credit Company. Judge Reeves ordered Chilton to repay Pioneer Credit all of the money she stole. In the course of her guilty plea, Chilton, the manager of the Shelbyville office of Pioneer Credit, admitted that she applied for and approved fraudulent loan applications using information of past, existing and potential new customers. Once she obtained the loan proceeds, she used the money for her own benefit. Chilton acknowledged that she used some of the money to pay off gambling debts.

Beverly man is charged in gambling ring

BEVERLY — A Beverly man is the latest person to face charges in what prosecutors allege is a statewide organized crime ring of gambling and loansharking. Paul Breen, 38, of 40 Bates Park Ave. colluded with two other men — one of them an attorney and former city solicitor — to funnel nearly $600,000 embezzled from a Wakefield business to pay off some of his own gambling debts, prosecutor John Dawley told a Middlesex Superior Court clerk magistrate yesterday. Charles Davis, a co-defendant, worked for a temporary agency and created a fictitious account that ultimately paid $462,000 directly to Breen and another account that paid $30,000 to Breen’s then-employer, Boston Commonwealth Real Estate. Breen then used that money to pay both his and Davis’ gambling debts.

Former Harrah’s Entertainment paralegal from Ocean Township gets three years for embezzlement

ATLANTIC CITY – A former paralegal at Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. has been sentenced to prison for embezzling $370,000 from a casino program that educates young people about the dangers of underage gambling. As a Harrah’s paralegal, Muraczewski was responsible for arranging the payment of prizes to Project 21 winners, Goemaat said. Project 21 included essay, poster and poetry contests, with a theme of preventing underage gambling. For more than a decade, Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been an advocate of Project 21, now an industrywide program that encompasses casino employee training and public awareness. Caesars Entertainment, formerly known as Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., is the parent company of the Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort and Showboat Casino Hotel properties in Atlantic City.

FBI Joins Investigation of Las Vegas Sands Corps

The FBI has joined the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Justice Department in probing Las Vegas Sands’ actions in Macau. The trio is investigating the company after former chief executive officer Steve Jacobs accused Las Vegas Sands in a court case of using improper leverage against government officials. The Feds are investigating claims that Sands CEO bribed Macao officials to expedite approval of condos built by the Nevada gambling giant. Sands announced earlier this month that it had received a subpoena for documents pertaining to possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars U.S. corporations from bribing foreign officials, from the SEC and the U.S. Justice Department.

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

UPDATE: Florida State Senators introduce Vegas Style Casino expansion bill

Casino Watch Focus reported that Las Vegas Sands Corp and Wynn Casinos pitched their idea for Vegas style casinos to the Senate Regulation Industries Committee.  Now an online source is reporting that two Florida State Senators serving in that Committee, Dennis Jones and Maria Sachs, have officially filed legislation that would create destination gambling casinos:

Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, and Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, announced the news via a release Friday. Jones is chair and Sachs is vice chair of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, which gambling falls under.

The legislation would authorize what Jones calls one “destination resort” in each of five districts across the state. Broward and Miami-Dade counties comprise one district. Palm Beach County is part of another, along four counties that neighbor it. The casinos would require approval by local referendum, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state’s pari-mutuels say they’re going to fight it.

This legislation would have an impact on the 2010 agreement between the Florida government and the Seminole Tribe.  The agreement allows the Seminole Tribe to offer blackjack and other table games in their casinos at a payoff price of about $1 billion over five years to the Florida government.  That agreement was based on the Seminoles being the only casinos allowed in the state and destination casinos would void the exclusivity of the agreement, thus costing Florida those funds.  The online article explained that the tradeoff will be a tough sell:

“If the Legislature wants to allow in new entities, it will have to decide if it’s a good tradeoff,” tribe spokesman Gary Bitner said. “Are they going to make enough to make up the assured payments from the tribe?” Until now, gambling in Florida has grown piecemeal. But getting the state, and then the public, to take the leap to full casinos could be a tough sell.

Dick Batchelor, a Democrat from Orlando who served in the Florida House of Representatives for eight years, said he and others feel such an expansion could hurt the state. “We all know it’s about money, but rather than do the right thing and set better priorities; they’re going to the vice industry, and I’m a pretty liberal guy,” he said. “The bottom line is, ‘Is it good for Florida?’ and I would suggest it’s not at all good.

“The ultimate result of this legislation will be a net loss due to the decimation of the pari-mutuel industry and lost revenue from the Seminole compact,” said [John Lockwood of Gunster law firm, who represents a number of pari-mutuel facilities in Florida].

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

A Brief Look at Crime 03/07– 03/13

Man leaps to his death from casino on Las Vegas Strip

A man committed suicide on Friday by leaping off a ledge at the newly-built Cosmopolitan hotel and casino onto the famed Las Vegas Strip, police said. Witness accounts place the man on a ledge at either the 6th floor or the 14th floor of the Cosmopolitan, the newest hotel and casino to open on the Strip, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police spokesman Marcus Martin said. The hotel, which opened to much publicity on December 15, has 50 floors and nearly 3,000 rooms. Marcus said police received calls that a man, who was not identified, was threatening to jump from the Cosmopolitan at about 4:45 a.m., Martin said.  Officers arrived shortly thereafter and tried to negotiate with the man, but he didn’t respond and at 6:26 a.m. jumped to his death.

Mark King: I was thinking about a robbery to get money to gamble

The low points were fast mounting up for snooker player Mark King as he battled a crippling addiction to gambling. To huge debts could be added a marriage under severe strain and a promising career in danger of going into a tailspin.  As he bottomed out in the quest for stake money to put on the next dog, horse  or card, King admits: “I found myself in a situation where I was even  thinking about doing a robbery to get money to gamble. That is just not me,  not who I am. I was considering quick fixes, stealing and stuff like that. I  don’t think it was even the debt at the time, it was just so I would have  something in my hand to bet with. I half-thought about the robbery, and  asked someone else to be involved. But in the end I couldn’t go through with  it. Looking back, it makes me feel physically sick.”

Ex-Vt. worker admits getting state to write checks to herself in $490,000 embezzlement

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A former state Department for Children and Families supervisor with a gambling addiction pleaded guilty Friday for her role in a $490,000 embezzlement scheme in which she got the state to issue more than 250 checks that she and her sister then cashed, keeping the proceeds. Her sister, Deborah Tuller, pleaded guilty previously and was sentenced to 13 months in prison. Lantagne told U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss during the plea hearing that she is being treated for a gambling addiction. She didn’t elaborate.

Gambling debt linked to murder-suicide

The Richmond man behind a high-profile murder-suicide in a local hotel room last January was saddled with a massive gambling debt incurred at River Rock Casino Resort, The Richmond Review has learned. A source told Black Press that the man had withdrawn some $200,000 from his line of credit, and lost it all at the local casino before reserving a room at the Hampton Inn on Jan. 7. An independent source familiar with the police investigation confirmed the details. The 55-year-old man took a sharp instrument and killed the 50-year-old Richmond woman with whom he shared the hotel room before turning the weapon on himself.

Dozens jailed following Michigan dog fighting raid

More than 20 people from Michigan, Georgia, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio have been jailed following a weekend raid on an alleged Monroe County dog fighting operation. The Monroe Evening News and the Detroit Free Press reported two of the nine dogs confiscated from a Raisinville Township house during the raid have died. Federal and local law enforcement officials took more than two dozen people into custody in what police describe as one of the largest dog fighting operations in the county’s history. The suspects were expected to be arraigned today on dog fighting charges, which carry a maximum penalty of four years in prison. The U.S. agriculture department is investigating, and local police are assisting. Monroe County sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Heath Velliquette described the scene as a brutal, bloody one.

Former Ohio State Star Art Schlichter Blames Addiction for Troubles

I’m embarrassed that I have hurt anyone, and I would give anything to make it right,” Schlichter told The Dispatch from the Franklin County jail in an exclusive interview. Schlichter is currently being held without bond on a first-degree felony charge of theft whereby he is alleged to have swindled a Dublin, Ohio widow out of more than $1million to fuel his gambling habit.  He is likely to face additional charges, with 20 other potential victims identified.  Nine of those individuals have filed police reports, according to the Dispatch. “I want to make amends to the people that I have harmed in some way. I wanted to reach out and apologize to people before I came (to jail), but I was advised not to contact them. That was the hardest part for me.”

Deputies raid Ventura county cockfighting arena, find dead animals and euthanize aggressive gamecocks

Authorities in Ventura County were searching Monday for suspects who escaped after deputies raided a blood-splattered cockfighting arena where dozens of animals were being exploited in violent contests. Deputies found 16 dead animals strewn near two rings  stained with blood Sunday and had to euthanize other aggressive gamecocks that were being stored  in cardboard boxes at the Filmore compound, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said.

A number of the dead animals had blades affixed to their legs. In all, more than 80 gamecocks were found at the site. The deputies had responded after receiving a tip that a cockfighting event was taking place, the department said. People at the event fled as deputies swooped down on the site, in the 1700 block of Grimes Canyon Road. Deputies seized evidence, including fighting blades, gambling records and a scale used to weigh the animals.

Ex-auditor admits to fraud

For nearly five years, Minnesota taxpayers covered Pamela Marie Dellis’ gambling debts, sent her sister to the casino and helped her niece pay some bills. Of course, taxpayers didn’t know about it and it was all illegal. On Monday in federal district court in Minneapolis, Dellis, her sister Nancy T. Sondrall and her niece, Laurie R. Sondrall, came clean. They admitted to a scheme that defrauded the state Department of Revenue — and taxpayers — out of nearly $2 million. Dellis, a former auditor with the revenue department whose job involved issuing refund checks and direct deposits to worthy taxpayers, diverted money to her sister and niece that the three then divided up for their own uses. The scheme lasted from January 2005 to Sept. 17, 2010. Her motive: “I do have a gambling addiction,” Dellis told U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen.

Bandits seize $200,000 from Puerto Rico casino

Masked gunmen raided a waterfront resort casino early Wednesday, forced gamblers to the floor and fled with more than $200,000, leaving a trail of bills fluttering along the beach, police said. The attack was similar to a robbery at another casino last year, also in the northern coastal town of Rio Grande, and police said they are investigating possible links. Holding handguns, they ordered a handful of tourists and employees to the ground and demanded to speak to the person with keys to the vault, Lopez said. The main suspect in that heist was fatally shot in front of his house in Rio Grande in February, he said.

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

UPDATE: New Jersey Governor Vetos Online Gambling Bill

Casino Watch Focus reported that the New Jersey legislature passed a bill that legalized state online gambling.  The bill needed to be signed by the Governor to be considered law and while some thought the political pressure from his party would lead to a veto, others believed his pro-gambling stance might be enough to see the bill become law.  However, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Governor Christie vetoed the bill citing several concerns:

In the veto message, Christie said he had a number of “significant concerns” with the legislation. He rejected the theory that by placing servers in Atlantic City, the bill would satisfy constitutional requirements.

“In my view, the creation of a legal fiction deeming all wagers to have ‘originated’ in Atlantic City cannot overcome the clear and unambiguous language of the State Constitution,” he said in the veto.

Voters approved Atlantic City gambling in 1976, two years after rejecting statewide gambling. Christie said he worried the bill would expand gambling “in a manner that is contrary to the public’s sentiment” to gambling.

The Governor’s decision and rationale for veto will set a very important precedent for other states such as Florida, California, Iowa and even Missouri, all of whom have considered similar legislation and all of whom have constitutional limits as to where gambling can take place.  Time will tell if these or other states move forward with plans to legalize online gambling, but at least one Governor has decided to put his people and their state constitution over the harmful effects of such widespread gambling availability.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/28 – 03/06

1 killed, another injured during cockfight

A traditional gambling den, where people from across the province have been coming and betting on cocks’ fight, was gripped with panic on Sunday noon, when an angry gambler pulled out a pistol and shot a man, whose cock had almost won the fight earlier. The den is situated in Ahsanabad Block’s Sector 3, near W-55’s last stop. The gambling had been taking place for a long time there under the alleged protection of Sohrab Goth police. A large number of villages of Sindhi speaking community are situated in the vicinity. The eyewitnesses informed that a local transporter Allauddin’s cock was fighting with another cock of Raja Soomro group, and they had gambled thousands of rupees on it. Suddenly, a quarrel broke out among competing gamblers and one of them pulled out a TT pistol and opened fire on Allauddin, whose cock was about to win the fight.

2 arrested in Vegas casino heist of $33K in chips

Police searched Friday for a man suspected of donning a fedora, fake mustache and sunglasses in a stickup that netted more than $33,000 in chips from a Las Vegas casino. It was the second grab-and-run heist in Sin City in two months.  In December, a bandit snatched $1.5 million in chips from a craps table at the Bellagio casino then sped away on a motorcycle. Police said Steven Gao, 45, went to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on Thursday and grabbed the chips from a pai gow poker table. He also pointed a gun at a card dealer who tried to stop him before he escaped in a cab, robbery Lt. Ray Steiber said.

Serial thief who stole from the elderly jailed for 4 years

A MAN who stole from the elderly in Housing Board flats by mainly posing as an electrician to get in was jailed for four years on Monday. The other method used by Malaysian Tai Soon Leong, 51, to gain entry into the premises was to break flower pots outside the victims’ homes in a bid to distract them.  In total, the victims, aged between 60 and 90 years, lost $331,334 on 113 occasions. The father of two sold the stolen jewellery in Johor Baru, Malaysia or Sungei Road, and used the cash proceeds to gamble at casinos and on board cruise ships.

Man defrauds employer of $600,000

A GAMBLING addict recruited a Victorian based friend to help with a false invoice scam to rip off nearly $600,000 from his Brisbane based employer, a court heard yesterday. Prosecutor Julie Aylward told the District Court in Brisbane that Leslie  Jones had used a persistent and calculated fraud to steal $583,339 from his  employer B and R Enclosures. Ms Aylward said there were 221 false invoices issued of which money was paid  on 220. She said no restitution was made and the company had to bear the loss while its profit margin had gone up since Jones had been caught.

Cop critical in police station shooting

An officer is in critical condition after apparently shooting himself in the chest inside a police van in the Mong Kok police station compound yesterday. Kwong Wai-tat, 37, had incurred up to HK$1 million in gambling debts, according to reports. The constable, a 17-year veteran, is married and has been driving police vans at the Emergency Unit Kowloon West for the past three years. Sources said he had borrowed money from colleagues to repay debts. Kwong told his colleagues to leave the vehicle before yesterday’s incident at about 7.30am, sources said. After the shooting, he was found unconscious with a gunshot wound to the chest, and taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital to undergo surgery.

U.S. Opens Probe of Las Vegas Sands

HONG KONG—Las Vegas Sands Corp. said it is being investigated by U.S. authorities over its compliance with antibribery laws in its operations in Macau, which has become a cornerstone of the casino company’s business and the gambling industry’s major source of growth.  Las Vegas Sands in its annual report filed Tuesday said it had received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requesting that the company produce documents related to its compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and that the Justice Department “is conducting a similar investigation.” The law prohibits U.S. companies from making payments to foreign officials to get or keep business. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has also initiated an investigation into the same matter, chairman Mark Lipparelli said.

SEC Charges Former UBS Adviser With Misappropriating $3.3M

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a former UBS AG (UBS, UBSN.VX) financial adviser in California with misappropriating $3.3 million to support what the agency called his “extravagant” lifestyle. The SEC said Steven T. Kobayashi, who worked in a California UBS Financial Services office, created a pooled investment fund to invest in life-insurance policies–but he “wound up stealing much of the money to support his extravagant lifestyle,” the SEC said. The regulator noted that he raised several million dollars from his UBS customers and used his fund’s bank accounts “as his personal piggy bank, spending at least $1.4 million in investor funds on expensive cars, prostitutes and large gambling debts.”

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

NCAA March Madness Gambling will cost the workforce billions

March 14, 2011 will be Selection Sunday, the day the NCAA college basketball national tournament players will be selected and seeded in the tournament.  As we enter into another year of March Madness its important to understand the impact that office pools have on employers and the communities. Obviously, not all office pools will result in gambling, however, a vast majority do involve illegal gambling. A USAtody article points to reports of online pools that take an entry fee and award cash and prizes. These pools may seem harmless but FBI spokesman Ross Rice explained that,‘“There could be a violation if there’s a payout and if the operators take a cut.” So how many people will engage in office pools this time of year and how will it impact work productivity? The St Louis post dispatch provides some good insight:

Nearly half of U.S. workers have participated in an office pool, and nearly a quarter have watched or followed sports events on their computer at work, according to a recent survey. 10 percent of employees have called in sick to watch or attend a game. 11 percent of workers aged 18 to 24 have participated in an office pool, compared to 77 percent of those 65 and older.

Very few employers offer guidance in their policies regarding office pools, even though it may mean taking a hit in terms of productivity, said John Heins, chief human resources officer for recruiting and staffing company Spherion Corp.

In terms of cost to employers, the Charlotte Observer points to a Chicago-based survey which says as much as $1.7 billion will be lost by employers in productivity, which breaks down to $109 million lost for every 10 minutes spent following the tournament. They believe there will be over 37 million workers participating in pools with 1.5 million watching games and results online from their desks.

The Charlotte Observer went on to quantify the financial impact of just the gambling.  On the low estimates they point to Terry Elman, acting executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling in New Jersey, who said “As much as $750 million is wagered on the tournament in office pools each year.”  On the high end, Lazer wager, an online sports, casino and entertainment gambling website, was reported claiming that, “with bracket pools ranging from $5 to $25 per person, office pools are now worth an incredible $2.5 billion.”

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