Monthly Archives: April 2011

UPDATE: Florida Senate Committee stops efforts to legalize local online poker rooms

Casino Watch Focus reported that  a bill had been introduced to allow online poker rooms at horse and dog tracks and other pari-mutuel locations.  The idea was to contract with three online poker companies to run the rooms and take a cut of each poker pot, know as a rake.  Now, an online source is reporting that the bill has been stopped in committee:

An attempt to regulate the burgeoning internet poker empire and start collecting state taxes from it died Tuesday when the Senate Criminal Justice Committee killed the bill with a 2-2 tie vote.

“This is really the ultimate convenience gambling,” said Frank Messersmith, lobbyist for the Florida Sheriff’s Association. “It provides anonynmity in your home with no peer pressure, no social interaction.” He called it “internet crack” that is particularly enticing to young males and will not stop the offshore gambling.

“This is a form of digital escape to the anti-social people and it just opens all types of doors that we think is too opportune for people to be caught up in gambling,” he said.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 04/18– 04/24

Jurors are told of brutal murder and attacks on two others in flat

A Bradford University student was found murdered on a blood-soaked bed after two knife-wielding robbers tortured him and plundered his bank account, a jury heard. Tony Ho, 19, was discovered by his sister with his throat slashed and multiple stab wounds, Bradford Crown Court was told yesterday. The chemistry and forensic science student was targeted by two men who blamed one another for the brutal killing, prosecutor Paul Greaney QC told the jury.

Mr Greaney said Mr Ho was stabbed 13 times and his throat slashed. A knife was five times driven right through his arms and he had wire round his neck. Miss Ho had head and facial injuries and ligature marks to her wrists and Mr Stolarczyk a wound that passed close to major organs, Mr Greaney said. The jury heard Kareem planned the robbery because he was a gambling addict desperate to repay his father after taking £920 from his bank account. Mr Greaney alleged Kareem recruited Osman as his “willing helper and henchman.”

 Sushi Eatery Owner Gets 6 Years In Gambling Debt Slaying

Denver sushi restaurant owner has been sentenced to six years in prison for killing a man attempting to collect gambling debt, authorities said.  Yan “Dave” Yang, 41, received the maximum manslaughter sentence in Denver court Friday for shooting dead 29-year-old Lloyd Running Bear who was trying to collect Yang’s gambling debt inside the Chopsticks and Sushi eatery crowded with customers.  Defense attorney Jud Lohnes argued that Yang, who is 5 feet 2 inches tall, was defending himself when he shot Running Bear five times, because the bigger man was choking Yang, the newspaper reported. Prosecutors disputed the self-defense theory, noting that Running Bear was shot twice in the back along with the three shots in his stomach.

 NCAA to look at San Diego case when FBI finishes

INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA plans to conduct its own investigation into an alleged basketball gambling ring at the University of San Diego but will wait until the FBI completes its work. On Tuesday, NCAA vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach called the allegations sad, acknowledging the serious nature of the charges that were unsealed one day earlier in San Diego.  The accused include Brandon Johnson, the school’s career scoring leader who is now playing in the NBA Development League, former assistant coach Thaddeus Brown and former player Brandon Dowdy.

Eight of 10 people charged pleaded not guilty Tuesday in federal court. Six of the eight defendants were granted bail ranging from $35,000 to $50,000. All are charged with conspiracy to commit sports bribery, conducting an illegal gambling business and distributing marijuana. If convicted, they each face up to five years in prison and $250,000 fines. Federal authorities have charged them with running a sports betting business to affect the outcome of games. “The FBI is leading the investigation and we will stand by and let them do their work because they have more tools in their tool boxes to get at what’s going on than we do,” Lach told The Associated Press. “After they conclude their investigation, we will begin ours.”

 Charge: Man gambles away $2 million stolen from seniors

A Burlington man accused of bilking real estate investors out of $2.6 million to pay, in part, for a high-stakes gambling habit is now facing 29 felony charges. King County prosecutors contend Michael J. Reeder scammed a Seattle real estate investor and a Mukilteo man out of the money in a long-running scheme that saw him convert most of the money into cash. Writing the court, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Melinda Young argued that Reeder used childhood friends in the scheme. “The defendant victimized four different people, three of whom were over the age of eighty,” Young told the court.

 Butcher Peter Lubik Jailed For Stabbing Wife To Death  

A BOORISH, bullying butcher who stabbed his wife to death during an argument about him going to a casino has been jailed for a “shocking and cowardly” killing. Peter Lubik, 42, severed his wife Barbara’s carotid artery when he stabbed her in the throat at their Melbourne home in January 2009. Before the stabbing they had argued about Lubik, who was a problem gambler, going to a casino, the Victorian Supreme Court heard today. Last year, Lubik was found guilty by a jury of manslaughter, but acquitted of murder. Justice Robson said Lubik, of Noble Park North, deliberately stabbed his wife in a very delicate area of the body.

 Gambling addict gets three-year jail term

A woman stood crying in the dock today throughout her sentencing for the theft of $1 million from her employer. Maria Anne Kahu, 41, stole the money to feed her gambling addiction, Christchurch District Court was told.  She made 272 unauthorised transactions over six years and took $1.03 million before resigning to move to Australia. Defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger said it was an ultimate breach of trust between employer and employee, but Kahu was remorseful and had written a letter of apology to the company. She had taken steps to deal with her gambling addiction, but all the money had gone into machines and to fund a lifestyle she could not have lived otherwise.

 Worker accused of gaming funds theft

FARGO – A woman who counted cash for the Fargo Youth Commission’s charitable blackjack and pull-tab operations is accused of embezzling up to $59,000, court records say.  Abbey L. McNamee was charged in Cass County District Court on Wednesday with a Class B felony count of theft of property. A police report included with court records claims an investigation prompted by the gaming office of the city auditor found about $59,000 missing from Youth Commission coffers. Police allege that McNamee, 28, admitted to stealing money collected from dealers’ drop boxes, telling a detective she believed she had taken about $40,000. The Youth Commission runs programs for elementary students, including a variety of before- and after- school programs. “It used to be known as latch-key programs,” said Rob Kueneman, executive director of the commission.

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


Florida Destination Gambling bill makes a last ditch effort in the Senate, but stalls in the House

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.  After some intense political pressure and a key amendment, the Senators pulled the bill.  Now, The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that a new last ditch effort is being made to push Destination Gambling:

A measure by Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, would attempt to  bring Las Vegas-style gaming to Florida in the form of huge destination  hotels like Las Vegas Sands or Wynn Resorts. The bill passed the Senate  Commerce and Tourism Committee Tuesday, but over the objections of  several committee members who said there were still many problems with  the legislation.

“I think it’s a sad day in Florida when we’ve decided that the way  we’re going to fix our economy is to expand gaming,” said state Sen.  Anitere Flores, R-Miami.  Lawmakers who supported the bill in the committee said it still  needed many changes though before it would be acceptable for a full  chamber vote.

Even if the Senate measure were to pass, a companion bill would need to clear the House.  The Orlando Sentinel points out that the leadership in the house would not be inclined to pass the pro-gambling bill:

A House companion measure effectively stalled after it was assigned to a committee that House Speaker Dean Cannon, who is anti  gaming, later disbanded, meaning its chances of becoming law are still  slim.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 04/11– 04/17

Tight courtroom security for men accused of gambling-related beating death

HONOLULU – Four men accused of a deadly beating stemming from a dispute at an illegal gambling establishment in Chinatown made their initial appearances at Honolulu District Court Monday. The homicide has had a few twists and turns. The suspects originally told police they found their friend beaten at Moanalua Community Park and drove him to the hospital.

But investigators say that was all a lie, and that the suspects eventually confessed to repeatedly punching and kicking the victim at 925-C Maunakea Street in Chinatown.  Maauga Imoa, 24, Manu Tonga, 21, and Sione Vulangi, 26, entered District Judge Leslie Hayashi’s packed courtroom with seven state deputy sheriffs providing security. Hearing their family members sobbing in the gallery seemed to emotionally affect the men charged with murder.

 Man loses wife in gambling

A man in Greater Noida’s Dadri region lost his 24-year-old wife to a fellow gambler. Despite being chased by the husband and his friends, the woman, Rajkali, somehow managed to escape. The police, after initial reluctance, have registered a case. The accused are at large. The police said after having lost his cellphone and R6,000, Kushalpal alias Lala used Rajkali as a stake in gambling and lost that game too.

At that time, the woman, mother of a three-month-old baby, was at her parents’ house in village Khatana in Jarcha kotwali and it saved her “from being handed over.” However, villagers said Lala, who hails from Panchguia in Bulandshahr, had lost two of his earlier wives in gambling too. He is also alleged to have been jailed on charges of murder. “He would beat me up every now and then,” said Rajkali, daughter of Sohanlal, who married Lala, a driver and habitual gambler, five years ago.

 Ex-CA bank manager pleads guilty to embezzlement

A former Central California bank manager has pleaded guilty to embezzling thousands of dollars to feed a gambling habit. Former bank manager Jeri Sell entered her plea Tuesday to one count of embezzlement. The 56-year-old woman was the manager of a Citizens Business Bank branch in Tulare until last September. Sell was charged by the state Attorney General’s Office with taking $679,000 from five bank customers’ accounts to pay for gambling.

Man gambles with child’s life

A 25-YEAR-OLD man who left his five-year-old son in a car for about two and a half hours has faced court.  The man pleaded guilty at Gladstone Magistrates Court on Tuesday to lawful care or charge of a child under 12 years. The court was told staff from a local store contacted the police about 2.25pm after seeing the child in the car.  The court heard the man got a jackpot of $1200, hit collect, looked at the clock, which read 2.40pm, and immediately left. Proceedings revealed the man told police he had lowered the windows and was going to go back to the child in 20 minutes.  The court was told police believed the child was unattended in the car for about two and a half hours. The man’s defense solicitor Stacey O’Gorman said her client had a gambling problem.

Friend of man found dead in his car speaks out

A LONG-term friend of a man found dead in his car in Croxley Green has spoken of his grief.  Jan Podgorski, 46, was discovered by a member of the public in his silver Toyota Yaris in All Saints Lane at about 9am on Sunday, March 27.  Pal Keith Joseph, who lives in Chorleywood, told the Gazette: “Jan and I have known each other for more than 20 years, and I was the reason he was in this area. We both worked in the casino industry, in places including Yorkshire and Russia.  “He was quite depressed and a very sombre individual – he had gambling problems and he divorced his ex-wife, who is now living in Malta, about eight years ago. I tried to help him and I lent him some money to set up his own place, but he became isolated. I think he just reached the end of his tether and his death is a real tragedy.”

Woman allegedly stole $400,000 from tribes

A former cashier at the Tulalip Tribes’ liquor store and smoke shop is accused of embezzling about $400,000.  Angela Jones Ver Hoeven reportedly told investigators in August that she has a “pill problem” and stole up to $800 a day from the shop, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Investigators also uncovered that Ver Hoeven has lost about $37,000 at the tribal-owned Quil Ceda Creek Casino since the fall of 2009. Ver Hoeven, a tribal member, was arrested Thursday. She is charged with theft from a tribal organization. She is accused of underreporting her sales at the drive-thru window and pocketing the money. Investigators believe the embezzlement began as early as 2008. A review of her casino account indicated that since September 2009 Ver Hoeven put more than $732,000 into the gaming machines, which included money she deposited and money she had won and used to bet again. Her net loss was about $37,000 in 13 months.

Aventura police are investigating theft of more than $500,000 

Aventura police are investigating allegations that a former manager of an Aventura luxury condo embezzled more than $500,000 from the condominium association. The case began in February 2010 when the condominium association’s auditor alerted the condo board of “suspicious activity on the business account,’’ the report said. The association hired an attorney, Perry Adair of the Fort Lauderdale law firm of Becker & Poliakoff, to handle the matter. In early February, Adair and the condo board members confronted Rodriguez.  She confessed and resigned, Green said. “She said she was very sorry, very embarrassed and wanted to make it up to us,” Green said. Two weeks later, on Feb. 22, Rodriguez e-mailed residents, apologizing and blaming her actions on a gambling addiction.

 Police find $10 million buried in South Korean field

South Korean police say they’ve arrested a farmer for allegedly hiding about $10 million in cash in a garlic field. Police say his relatives made the money by running an illegal Internet gambling site. Police said Tuesday they’ve confiscated the money the farmer buried in his field in Gimje, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) south of Seoul. Police say the farmer, surnamed Lee, was arrested Monday. They say Lee’s two brothers-in-law – one in prison and the other on the run – had asked him to hide the money.

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


Washington DC joins the race to be the first to legalize Online Poker

Casino Watch Focus reported that the New Jersey legislature was the first to pass a measure to legalize online poker.  Many States waited to see if the bill would be vetoed or be passed and face numerous legal hurdles.  That question was answered when New Jersey Gov. Christie vetoed the bill, leaving the legal questions and the race to be the first open.  Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Washington DC has joined the discussion:

Washington, D.C., is poised to become the first place in the U.S. to allow online poker, challenging the federal government’s effective ban on the practice in its own backyard.

The city council approved a budget last year allowing the district’s lottery to operate a poker website accessible only inside district boundaries. City officials say the window for Congress to raise objections to the law was due to expire Thursday, allowing it to take effect.

Opening the district to online gambling could make the nation’s capital the  first test case for “intrastate” online poker, which allows only players within a state—or the district—to gamble on a site.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 04/04– 04/10

Chiefs LB Vrabel arrested for theft

Kansas City linebacker Mike Vrabel was arrested Monday and charged with theft from a riverboat casino. The Switzerland County sheriff’s department said Vrabel, 35, was arrested at 5:30 a.m. and released about 5 hours later on $600 cash bond. He was charged with a class D felony. Vrabel, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots, is a member of the NFLPA executive committee and one of the plaintiffs in the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. A hearing is scheduled Wednesday in Minneapolis in federal court in the lawsuit.

Peru woman admits to bank fraud

Admitting to a severe gambling problem that led her to desperation, a La Salle woman, who was a local credit union branch manager, entered a plea to committing bank fraud. According to court documents, Pena was employed as manager at American Nickeloid Employees Credit Union in La Salle and took out a home equity loan there for nearly $87,000 in August, 2008. In September 2009, she reportedly increased the loan, without proper authorization, to $250,000, a difference of almost $164,000. After bank auditors found the discrepancy, Pena was taken into custody Sept. 16.  In court Thursday, Sticka said a serious gambling addiction and subsequent money problems led Pena to her scheme.

Shinnick pleads guilty to Norwood School Employee Federal Credit Union theft

Stephen Shinnick pleaded guilty on Friday, April 1, to stealing $307,919 from the Norwood School Employee Federal Credit Union during the time he served as treasurer.  The former Coakley Middle School vice principal changed his plea in Norfolk County Superior Court on Friday. His lawyer Robert Goldstein said Shinnick had a gambling problem that caused his client to resort to stealing money from the credit union. “It was a ball that just kept rolling,” he said.  “If not for gambling (Shinnick) would not be sitting in this chair today,” Goldstein said of Shinnick, seated next to him, expressionless, and wearing a navy blue blazer and dark tie slightly off kilter. “He went on to say that he should’ve been caught three years ago,” according to the court documents.  “In addition, he stated that he had blown a 40 year career and everything he had ever done was ruined by these actions.”

Atlantic City hotel facing age discrimination suit

Resorts Casino Hotel is under fire for age discrimination after it allegedly terminated sixteen female employees over their appearance, according to multiple news reports. The sixteen employees, all longtime waitresses in their 40s, 50s and 60s, were asked by management to try on new, skimpier uniforms. The employees claim they were led into a room where they were photographed in the uniforms. Later a modeling agency representing the casino terminated the sixteen women, according to the report of one of the waitresses, who said all the uniforms were either size two or four. “I can’t think of anything I’ve dealt with that was more disgusting and dehumanizing than what they’ve done to these women,” Robert McDevitt of the UNITE-HERE union told FoxNews.

Daughter-in-law stripped elderly couple clean to fuel gambling habit, says Hernando detective

Jennifer Dennison used to bring her father-in-law doughnuts and ice cream cake and lemon pies. Back then, before he knew what she was capable of, Laverne Dennison called her a doll. Between those afternoon visits, authorities say, his daughter-in-law gambled at least $14 million in slot machines over two years at Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino — and in the process, lost more than $500,000 of her in-laws’ money.  Jennifer Dennison is accused of stealing the 88-year-old’s Social Security and his wife’s retirement money. Hernando County sheriff’s investigators said she forged his name on checks, drained at least six of their bank accounts and cashed in a pair of the couple’s life-insurance policies that totaled $36,000.  

Man Sentenced After Losing at Poker

A New Mexico man has been sentenced to prison after he asked to repay his investment scam victims through poker tournament winnings, but failed to find luck at the card table.  Samuel McMaster Jr. was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years. He pleaded guilty last year to charges of stealing nearly $450,000 from 23 investors. Prosecutors had agreed to delay the ex-insurance agent’s sentencing after he asked to attempt to earn money for restitution. The agreement included broad language that allowed those attempts to include gambling.

Priest charged with stealing from charity fund

A western Wisconsin priest has been charged with stealing money from a church fund for the needy. Officials at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Hudson told investigators that nearly $11,000 was missing from a charity account used to help people in times of hardship. Prosecutors say Dahlberg admitted taking the money and says he has a gambling addiction. The 68-year-old priest resigned his position last month.

Gambling Crime:  Mafia Gambling Ring Busted

A Mafia-linked gambling ring with ties to the offshore gambling sector has been busted up by authorities in Queens, New York. The ring allegedly netted some $8 million over a nearly 3-year period. Arrested and charged were Michael Palmaccio, 39, for bookmaking; Gerry Gullotti, 45, charged with loansharking; Ronald Salerno, 33, charged with debt collecting; and Cono Natale, 46, charged as a runner for the operation.

Oklahoma gambling addict ordered to federal prison

A gambling addict who stole almost $500,000 from her employer was sentenced Tuesday to three years in federal prison. Deanne Rae Meshew, 47, of Shawnee, also was ordered to pay $436,106 in restitution to the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration. The council is a not-for-profit organization of public school administrators. Meshew must pay $50,000 to an insurance company and $84,556 to the Internal Revenue Service. She must complete 104 hours of community service in the first year after her release. U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton chose the punishment. “I hope you’ve learned your lesson,” he said.

June trial for former Roselle priest accused of stealing $400,000 from church for gambling

A judge has set a June trial date for a former Catholic priest charged with stealing more than $400,000 from his former church, in part to feed a gambling addiction. The Daily Herald reports that DuPage County Judge John Kinsella set a June 13 bench trial for 47-year-old John Regan. The Rev. John Regan was pastor of St. Walter Parish in Roselle from June 2006 until 2008. Regan has pleaded not guilty to felony charges including theft and money laundering. He is accused of stealing the church funds and then spending the money at riverboat casinos.

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


New Online Gambling Bill Filed – Identical to other past failed attempts

Casino Watch Focus reported that U.S. Rep. Barney Frank’s desire to regulate online gambling was all but shut down after the midterm elections.  Then, a last minute effort was made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but Casino Watch Focus reported that he was unsuccessful at his attempt to attach the pro-gambling bill to sure-to-pass legislation during the lame duck session.  Now, an online source is reporting that Rep. Frank is attempting to legalize gambling again, this time teamed up with Republican John Campbell:

Congressman John Campbell (R-CA) along with Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced today The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act.

The legislation comes in response to the enactment of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which restricted the use of the payments system for Americans who gamble online.

“The bill is identical to H.R. 2267 that was passed out of the House  Financial Services Committee on July 28, 2010 with bi-partisan support.”

Time will tell if this next attempt to legalize online gambling will end in failure like its predecessors.  Some bi-partisan support was not enough in the past, and with no reports of a greater level of bi-partisan support, it will interesting to see what this bill’s supporters plan to do to truly make it different than years past.

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