Monthly Archives: June 2011

Terrell Ownens, Santana Moss and 23 other players are under investigation for violating NFL gaming operation rules

Casino Watch Focus has reported numerous times on the NFL’s anti-gambling position.  The organization doesn’t like gambling on its sport because they know from other sports the propensity for corruption, game fixing and the devastating trail that can be left behind in gambling’s wake. They also have rules in place to prevent players from being involved with any gaming operation.  It’s too easy for the reputation of the NFL to be tarnished if someone is involved in a major gambling scandal.  An online source is reporting that one of those major gambling stories that is likely to reflect negatively on the NFL is making headlines as star NFL players have gotten involved in the wrong gambling business venture:

The NFL is investigating the reported investment by at least 25 NFL players in an Alabama casino that has been shut down, a business venture that might have run afoul of league rules. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed the investigation Friday, a day after Yahoo! Sports reported that wide receivers Terrell Owens, Santonio Holmes, Santana Moss and other players had invested some $20 million in Country Crossing casino. The report also named defensive tackle Gerard Warren and linebacker Adalius Thomas, a free agent who played for the New England Patriots until his release before last season.

The Players involved could face severe fines or even suspension for their involvement.  The Alabama casino in question has been a major source of investigation, as key operators have pleaded guilty to offering millions in bribes.  The Bradenton Online continues:

Country Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley and two of his lobbyists have pleaded guilty to offering legislators millions in bribes. Country Crossing and another Alabama casino are at the center of a probe that resulted in nine people going to trial accused of buying and selling votes on pro-gambling legislation, including four former or current state senators. State police raids and court rulings closed the two bigger casinos and other gambling operations around the state. Yahoo! Sports said boxer Floyd Mayweather was an early investor who is trying to get his money back. Former NFL players Cornelius Griffin and Jevon Kearse also have put in money, the report said.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 06/13 – 06/19

Guilty plea from ex-court clerk charged with embezzlement

A former Washoe District Court clerk pleaded guilty today to stealing more than $202,000 from a court trust fund — money used to cover gambling debts. Teresa Prince, who resigned her post after the alleged check-writing scam was discovered on Feb. 25, faces a maximum 30-year sentence for the three grand theft charges. Prince was a supervisory clerk when she allegedly obtained a key from court officials and took checks from a locked cabinet, according to documents. The checks were for a trust account that covered court-ordered payments.

 Kansas casino employees investigated

A Kansas regulatory board is investigating employees of a state-owned casino in Dodge City over allegations they were involved in illegal off-site poker games, and about two dozen could face suspension or loss of their state licenses, a board spokesman confirmed Friday. The state Racing and Gaming Commission provided few details about the allegations surrounding the workers at the Boot Hill Casino and Resort. But spokesman Bill Miskell said that most worked at the casino’s table games and that the employees under investigation will receive notices that their licenses, which they need to work in the casino, are under review. “Our investigation has determined with certainty that games were occurring weekly,” Miskell told The Associated Press. “We are not in a position at this time to provide more specific details regarding the investigation.”

Real estate fraudster ruined daughter in ‘flipping’ scheme

A Snohomish man charged with ripping off investors of $2.6 million in part to pay for a gambling habit is now accused of ruining his daughter’s credit in a house “flipping” scheme. Having previously charged Michael J. Reeder with dozens of counts related to the real estate fraud, King County prosecutors now claim the 42-year-old former Burlington resident duped his daughter into falsifying a mortgage application. In charging documents filed earlier in June, a state investigator alleged Reeder in 2007 told his then-20-year-old daughter he was dying of cancer and that he wanted her “taken care of” after he was gone. Instead, the subsequent loan in her name ruined her credit and saddled her with debt.

Gamblers abandon children in casinos

More than 140 children have been abandoned in New Zealand casinos in the past 2 years – but that could be the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to gambling-related child neglect, experts say.  New Department of Internal Affairs figures this week revealed 19 cases in 2011 so far, compared with 49 in 2010 and 23 in 2009. The 91 cases involved a total of 144 children, including a 4-month-old found in a vehicle parked at SkyCity casino in Auckland in February 2009. In May last year, police were called to the same casino after a child was abandoned while his grandparents played bingo. Heather McShane of Internal Affairs’ gambling compliance group said most of the children were found at SkyCity, the biggest casino in the country.

Waukesha woman who stole from meal sites gets prison term

A former Waukesha County account clerk who stole more than $300,000 donated by senior citizens for their meals at 12 nutrition sites was sentenced Monday to five years in prison. Kham Sisaleumsak, who told authorities she gambled away the money, was charged in February 2010 with 13 counts of felony theft in a business setting. The criminal charges against Sisaleumsak, 45, of Waukesha, covered six years and the theft of $277,000. But she was stealing money longer than that, Assistant District Attorney Mary C. Brejcha said, and the amount totaled about $380,000.

Texan busted in NBA finals gambling probe

An alleged bookie accused of accepting bets on the NBA finals between the Mavericks and the Heat has been charged with money laundering. The Bexar (bayr) County Sheriff’s Office says 67-year-old Federico Felan of San Antonio was arrested Monday and nearly $161,000 was seized, along with possible gaming tickets and ledgers. The Dallas Mavericks beat Miami on Sunday night for the NBA title and the money was confiscated from Felan, his car and his home allegedly before he could pay off any winners. Lt. Tammy Burr described Felan as a career bookie and his arrest came after a long-term investigation. Burr says more arrests are expected.

 Beason outlines $500,000 offer, threats

Sen. Scott Beason, who cooperated with a federal investigation into alleged corruption in the Alabama Legislature, talked Monday about being offered as much as $500,000 if he supported pro-gambling legislation and spoke about wearing a wire to record subsequent conversations with defendants. Beason was the first witness in the federal corruption case that started last week. Nine defendants are on trial for their roles in an alleged scheme to buy and sell support for pro-gambling legislation.

Man sues after being robbed, shot following big win at local casino

A St. Louis County man has filed a lawsuit against the Casino Queen after he was followed, shot and robbed after winning nearly $18,000 in April of 2009. He claims that the casino did not do enough to protect him.  In the lawsuit, the victim, mark Meyers, claims that the Casino Queen “ruined his life,” and blames security for physical, financial and mental bruises. After the incident, Myers lost his job, and can no longer run or exercise after having multiple surgeries over the past two years.

67 arrested in Pike County cockfighting raid

“The majority of the people we arrested were from Louisiana,” Pike County Sheriff Mark Shepherd said. “They thought it was convenient to come across the state line and set up shop and have these fights here.” Fighting roosters is a felony in Louisiana, whereas in Mississippi it is a misdemeanor. Only four or five of the 67 people arrested are from Mississippi, District Attorney Dee Bates said. Two of those were the proprietors of the land where the fight was held. Drugs, alcohol, weapons, cockfighting items, and just under $40,000 in cash also were taken from the scene, officials said.

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


Obama Administration expands Tribal Gambling

Casino Watch Focus reported that the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows for off-reservation casinos.  In January of 2008 the U.S. Dept of Interior denied a claim to build a casino 293 miles away from the reservation explaining the casino was too far to be of benefit to tribal members. Then, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) passed a rule that the casino must be within 25 miles of a reservation headquarters, but it did allow for a few exceptions.  Now, The Miami Herald is reporting that the Obama administration has removed the rule:

The Obama administration announced Tuesday it has rescinded a rule that blocked Indian tribes from building casinos far from their reservations, reviving hopes among local officials for casino gambling in the Catskills.

The change overturns the so-called commutability rule, created in 2008 by then-Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. According to the rule, a casino beyond reasonable commuting distance from a tribe’s reservation was damaging to life on the reservation because its residents would move to follow the new jobs.

This rule change could dramatically expand casino gambling.  In 2008 from January to July, 10 tribal casino applications were rejected alone. For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


A Brief Look at Crime 06/06 – 06/12

Fla. man gets 20 years in investment fraud

A federal judge in New Jersey scolded a Florida man for his lavish lifestyle funded by stolen millions before sentencing him Tuesday to 20 years in federal prison in an investment fraud scheme. Nevin Shapiro, once known locally for his sports philanthropy, was sentenced in a Newark courtroom after previously pleading guilty to charges related to running a multistate Ponzi scheme that prosecutors say left more than 60 investors in Florida, Indiana and New Jersey with nearly $100 million in losses. His attorney, in arguing for a lighter sentence, said Shapiro was gripped by a gambling addiction that drove him to overextend a once-legitimate business. Attorney Maria Elena Perez argued that Shapiro has cooperated with bankruptcy and government officials to try and recover as much money as possible for his victims.

 New details emerge in violent Lehigh robbery

New details are being uncovered in the case of a violent robbery that occurred at Luxxor Casino in Lehigh Acres on Friday night. Surveillance video recorded the entire incident. A 32-year-old female employee, named J.C., was locking up the business when she was forced back inside by two masked men. One of the men punches her more than 20 times, while the other man stole an undisclosed amount of cash.

Now, Luxxor owner Carrye Decker says she knows who is responsible for setting up the robbery but she doesn’t want to say who. “There’s something more to that than just a robbery,” she says. The fact that the men knew exactly where the cash was stored leads Decker to believe it was an inside job. “That’s sick. Come take my money, grab my money, leave her alone. It was completely unnecessary,” Decker says. Friends of the victim say she is a good soul and didn’t deserve what happened.

Boulder businessman Austin Veith faces charges in alleged $450,000 scam

A Boulder man has been arrested in New York and brought back to Colorado to face felony charges of defrauding investors out of nearly half a million dollars — money that prosecutors say was spent at restaurants, ski resorts and casinos. An arrest affidavit released Friday details allegations that Austin Slattery Veith, 32, raised millions of dollars over the last couple of years to fund Internet start-ups — with the founders of online luggage giant eBags among his biggest investors — and diverted about $450,000 to his personal accounts. Prosecutors also cite bank records that show Veith wiring nearly $85,000 of investor funds to various Las Vegas casinos to feed an extensive gambling habit. 

 FIFA investigating Nigeria win over Argentina

Argentina’s 4-1 friendly defeat to Nigeria is being investigated for possible match-fixing, by far the highest-profile game to come under the microscope so far, soccer’s governing body FIFA said on Saturday.  “FIFA can confirm that this match between Nigeria and Argentina was one that we had an active interest in, and forms part of a wider ongoing FIFA investigation,” said FIFA in a statement. Manipulation of matches by gambling rings has become a major concern for world soccer’s governing body FIFA and its European counterpart UEFA and both monitor thousands of matches for unusual betting patterns.  Last month, FIFA set up a partnership with Interpol and announced it would donate 20 million euros over the next 10 years to fight the problem.

 US Levies More Charges Against Online Betting Sites

The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against the principals of a series of online sports betting sites on May 23. The defendants, Darren Wright and David Parchomchuk of British Columbia and Ann Marie Puig of San Jose, Costa Rica, were charged with conducting an illegal gambling business and money laundering in violation of the laws of the State of Maryland. Homeland Security Investigations opened an undercover payment processor business (“Linwood Payment Solutions”), which collected funds and distributed winnings to/from the defendant websites and transferred those funds to offshore foreign banks.  The undercover payment processor processed over 300,000 gambling transactions worth more than US$30 million for the defendants between December 2009 and January 2011.

Mob on track to win: With OTB gone, bookies are riding high with Belmont Stakes on the horizon

Looking for a sure thing at Saturday’s 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes? Bet on organized crime and illegal bookies to win, place and show a bigger profit at the first Belmont since Off Track Betting shuttered its 54 New York City betting parlors in December. “Where there is money to be made, the mob is most certainly there,” one veteran Bonanno family soldier said of the chance to cash in on the Triple Crown race. “They were taking bets when OTB was operating,” he continued. “And I’d bet — no pun intended — that they have been taking bets on this race for weeks now.” There’s a lot of money to be made: NYC OTB handled nearly $2.4 million in Belmont bets last year — a lucrative one-day windfall. A good portion of those wagers will wind up as illegal action. Gamblers “are going to go with a bookmaker, sure,” said Arnie Wexler, former head of the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling. “Not all these people are going to run to the track.” A city rackets prosecutor agreed: “This has got to increase business for organized crime-controlled horse parlors.”

AG wants Youngwood bar owner’s assets seized

The state Attorney General’s Office wants to seize $1.68 million in alleged gambling proceeds confiscated from the owner of a Youngwood pub and his family. Attorney General Linda L. Kelly filed a petition on Friday asking a Westmoreland judge to approve the forfeiture of cash seized during a series of raids Feb. 11-15 at Delaney’s Pub at 301 S. Third St.; the residence of its owner, John Caccamese, 61, of Hempfield; and several safety deposit boxes he owns. Caccamese told state police that his gambling operation was taking in about $30,000 a week on numbers betting and about $10,000 a week in sports betting, according to the petition.

 Employee accused of embezzlement from Blood Center

Officials at the Community Blood Center, which supplies blood to hospitals — including Ripon Medical Center and Calumet Medical Center — are reviewing its systems, policies and practices to prevent future embezzlement, Rick Hart, president and CEO of the center, said Wednesday. Tina M. Jacobsen, 49, of Neenah, was charged in Outagamie County Court with five felony counts of theft, two misdemeanor theft counts and a felony charge of fraudulent writings in what police say were two schemes that netted her at least $470,000 during the past five years. The thefts occurred between January 2006 and April of this year when Jacobsen was fired, and at least some of the money may have been used for gambling, the complaint says.

Casino Fined $26,000 by Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for Permitting Underage Gambling

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today levied a $26,000 fine against Harrah’s Chester Downs and Marina, LLC, operator of Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack, for allowing an underage patron to gamble at their facility. The fine was the result of a consent agreement between the PGCB’s Office of Enforcement Counsel and the Delaware County casino, and was imposed for a violation of sections of the Gaming Act that prohibit individuals under the age of 21 to gain access to the gaming floor and gamble.

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


Penny Auction site faces class action lawsuit

Earlier this year, Casino Watch Focus reported on the dangers of a new type of gambling known as Penny Auctions. These sites have consumers bid on high dollar items until time runs out and the person who placed the last bid wins.  It sounds like a normal eBay-type auction except 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 psychology of Penny Auctions functions the same as the lottery or slot machines, put in a little in hopes of winning 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.  Now, an online source is reporting that a class action lawsuit has been filed against one of these penny auction websites:

QuiBids.com claims that users of their website will pay 80-95% less than retail prices for consumer products the likes of HDTVs, laptops, automobiles, you name it.  Of course there is a catch. A class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma claims that virtually none of the consumers who participate in these “auctions” will win the right to purchase such high-end item products at those greatly reduced prices.  In such cases, the consumers lose whatever money they bid during the auction.  The suit alleges that the failure to win auctions is costly to QuiBids customers. Some have even suggested that the QuiBids.com website is nothing more than legalized online gambling.

“In reality, they are just taking people’s money and giving them nothing in return,” Roger Mandel, attorney for the Class, said. “If they want to operate their business like a lottery, then they need to tell people the truth about their chances of winning — which are slim to none,” said Mandel.

Time will tell if this lawsuit has any affect, but if history is any indication in cases like these, its doubtful the courts will step in.  Hopefully, this case will at least raise much needed awareness on the dangers.  Please share this information (see below) with those you know and especially those who mention they participate on these sites. You may help prevent a gambling addiction that can tear a life or family apart.  For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


A Brief Look at Crime 05/30– 06/05

Vicksburg Man Charged With Murder Over Gambling

Vicksburg Police say James Ransom, 19, is charged with shooting and killing Robert Banks, 20. Chief Walter Armstrong says the two got into an argument over a gambling situation with other people at a home on the 17 hundred block of Martha Street. Banks died from a single gunshot wound. He was transported to River Region Hospital where he later died. Police believe Ransom is the one who called authorities. He led officers to a grassy area where he says he threw the gun. Officers were not able to find it.  Ransom did confess that he fired the weapon. He was previously out on bond for an armed robbery charge, stemming from an April 2010 incident.

 Elder robbery, murder is beyond savagery

Whatever happened to a healthy respect for the elderly, if not for religious reasons, out of a conviction that the most vulnerable in our community deserve to be treated with love and compassion? That’s the question that many are asking following the senseless beating and murder of an 85-year-old lady who was guilty of nothing more than attempting to enjoy an evening of relaxation at a local bingo game, only to be kidnapped and later killed in savage fashion. This could have been any of our mothers or grandmothers who frequent the local casinos for “entertainment,” only to have their lives snuffed out by individuals who are either too lazy to work, too hardened to have compassion or too savage to care about the consequences and the impact of their actions on the families of their innocent victims.

 L.A. County welfare worker scammed the needy

As a Los Angeles County welfare worker, Trang Van Dinh was the face who stood between the needy and the public assistance checks that helped them survive. But instead of assisting the unemployed and impoverished people who came to him for help, Dinh used their personal information to file false tax returns in their names — with refunds electronically transferred to bank accounts he controlled, federal prosecutors contend. All told, prosecutors say, Dinh filed 197 returns seeking more than $2 million in refunds between 2009 and 2010. The Internal Revenue Service issued Dinh more than $1.1 million in refunds before he was arrested last year. In February, Dinh pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 27 at the federal courthouse in Los Angeles. He had acknowledged to county investigators that he filed the returns in a desperate attempt to repay gambling debts.

Fridolfson pleads guilty  to theft

A Fort Dodge woman pleaded guilty to first-degree theft charges in Humboldt County District Court Friday. Julie Fridolfson, 48, was accused of stealing more than $72,000 from July 2009 to August 2010 from the Iowa Drainage Ditch Association. She worked as a drainage clerk for Humboldt County and served as the secretary/treasurer for the county for 20 years. During Friday’s hearing, Fridolfson told Judge Gary McMinimee that she stole from the association by writing checks to herself. She said stresses in her personal life and career drove her to gamble.  Fridolfson said she fully intended to pay back the money. “I got deeper and deeper, and didn’t know where to turn for help,” Fridolfson said. She said she eventually booked herself into a gambling treatment center and completed three months of counseling.

Car plunges 7 stories off Pa. parking deck; 1 dies

Authorities say a 21-year-old man drove his car off the top of a Pennsylvania casino parking deck and fell seven stories to his death. The man died at a hospital Tuesday afternoon, hours after the vehicle fell from the top of the Sands Casino Resort garage in Bethlehem. The car crashed through a railing of steel bars and cables. Police Capt. David Kravatz tells the Easton Express-Times that there were no brake marks. Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim ruled the death a suicide but says no note was found.

Woman gets 18 months for bilking  business

A 60-year-old Winnipeg woman is heading to jail after getting caught stealing $450,000 from her employer to feed a prolific gambling addiction. Rekken had spent 21 years balancing the books at Robin Electric before her deceit was discovered by her bosses. It was an especially bitter pill to swallow for the victims, who looked at Rekken as an extended member of their family and invited her to numerous weddings and other celebrations over the years. “These are hardly victimless crimes. They weren’t just concerned about the profits they lost, but the personal violation they suffered,” said Wyant. Crown attorney Mandy Ambrose said Rekken abused the trust of her employer to forge dozens of cheque and transfer money to herself through company credit cards over the years. The crime nearly crippled the company, which was forced to lay off two electricians to stay afloat.

Norfolk woman sentenced for embezzling $2.3M

A former bookkeeper for a local seafood company was sentenced  Wednesday to 28 months in federal prison plus 10 months of home  confinement after admitting she embezzled $2.3 million from the company  to feed her gambling addiction. Leslie M. Coffman, 60, had been employed at Ballard Fish & Oyster Co. for nearly 20 years. She told the court in a letter that her  addiction to online gambling surfaced when her husband became disabled  and the family fell into a financial crisis. “This crime is staggering in many ways,” Seidel said, citing the amount stolen and the length of time the crime went on. The FBI began investigating Coffman last summer after company  officials noticed discrepancies during a routine check of the books. Coffman pleaded guilty in March to one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Warrants served at Greentrack and Frontier Bingo

More than 700 illegal gambling machines were seized from Greentrack and Frontier Bingo by officials with the attorney general’s office Wednesday. Search warrants were served at the two Greene County locations—the result of a months long investigation, according to a release from Attorney General Luther Strange. “From my first day in office, we have worked hand-in-hand with Governor Bentley and his staff to ensure that illegal gambling laws are enforced consistently across the state,” Strange said in a statement.

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


Florida Governor responds to calls to veto $400,000 pro-gambling study but remains politically ambivalent on the casino debate

Casino Watch Focus reported that the Florida legislature cut $400,000 from programs designed to help those with compulsive gambling issues, while also approving a new $400,000 gambling study.  The seeming intent of the study was to focus on the financial gains of new destination casinos, while ignoring the devastation and negative consequences of gambling. Immediately following the approval of the budget, groups started asking Governor Scott to veto the budget. One online source explained how one sided the study would be:

Gov. Rick Scott should reject a $400,000 gambling study in the 2011-2012 state budget and restore funding cuts to programs that help those harmed by gambling, Florida Baptist Convention legislative consultant Bill Bunkley urged in a May 19 letter. “In this critical and tight budgetary year when many fellow Floridians are unemployed and struggling to provide some of the basics of life, it is not the time to promote and subsidize the rich, deep-pocketed interests of the large-scale, Las Vegas casino enterprises or the horse racing industry,” Bunkley wrote. The study will not be “balanced,” he added, because it fails to require exploration of the “huge social costs the state will without a doubt” incur due to expanded gambling.  If there is to be a potentially pro-gambling study, it should be underwritten by the gambling industry, not taxpayers, Bunkley said.

 As the Sun Sentinel explains, The Florida Baptist Convention represents almost 3,000 churches and has more than 1 million members.  They represent a fairly strong republican voting base that the Governor couldn’t easily ignore.  As a result, an online Tampa news source is reporting that Gov Scott has vetoed the study.  As has become common on the gambling issue since his election, the Governor issued a statement that seeks political balance, not a firm position:

“I am vetoing $400,000 for a gambling study. While I encourage the Legislature to make a comprehensive review of additional gaming, I believe it is important to have a full consideration of the positive economic impact, the costs that may result from this policy, and the impact on current gaming in our state. However, such a study at this time is an expense Florida taxpayers should not incur.”

It is unclear as to the possibility of refunding the $400,000 cut from Compulsive Gambling Programs.  Keep checking for updated and for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION