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

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