A Brief Look at Crime 05/23– 05/29

Area Man Pleads

Attorney General Chris Koster said that Jason Dean, former district administrator of the Putnam County Ambulance District, has pled guilty to felony stealing following an investigation by the Highway Patrol and the Missouri Attorney General’s office. Dean entered his plea before Putnam County Judge Jack Peace. Koster said Dean, 44, was responsible for handling the ambulance district’s finances. In 2005, Dean began using the district’s emergency debit card to gamble at area casinos and used its general funds to pay for his family’s insurance premiums.He admitted that between 2005 and 2010 he stole $41,227 from the ambulance district. He was able to conceal the theft for years until an audit uncovered discrepancies. At the time of the thefts, Dean also was a Putnam County deputy sheriff.

 Feds take down Philadelphia reputed mob boss

The reputed boss of the Philadelphia mob, his alleged lieutenant and 11 others were hit with federal racketeering and gambling charges in an indictment unsealed Monday that federal authorities said shows that violent organized crime remains a real-life menace. Alleged mob leader Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi, reputed underboss Joseph “Mousie” Massimino and the others ran illegal gambling operations and engaged in loan sharking, according to the 70-page indictment that described a “Godfather”-like world in which reputed mobsters used threats to kill or harm people to recoup business debts. Eleven people, including Ligambi, were arrested Monday. The other two defendants were already in federal custody.      

 Ill. man pleads guilty in NYC Internet poker case

A Chicago man pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Monday, admitting that he helped Internet poker companies find banks to process millions of dollars in gambling proceeds even though he knew it was illegal. Bradley Franzen, 41, also signed a cooperation agreement, agreeing to testify if necessary at any trial to result from a government prosecution that has already caused the three largest online poker companies to shut down their U.S. operations. Franzen was one of 11 people charged last month in the probe. He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, accepting funds in connection with illegal gambling and conspiracy to commit money laundering.      

 US Continues Online Gambling Crackdown With Site Seizures

When the US government cracked down on Internet gambling last month by issuing an indictment against PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker, many analysts took the indictment as a scare tactic. On Monday, the government again showed that they meant business with this first indictment. The previous indictment came down against online gambling sites and executives that actively sought to deceive US banks. On Monday, the Department of Justice showed that they can also use undercover operations to capture what they consider to be criminals within the Internet gambling industry. The latest legal trouble for online gambling sites came when the US government shut down popular online poker sites such as Bookmaker.com, Betmaker.com, and Doylesroom.com.

 Woman Admits Stealing Aunt’s Life Savings 

A woman from Kingston accused of taking more than $100,000 from her elderly aunt was back in court Monday in an attempt to reach a plea settlement. After Louise Olenik suffered a stroke, her niece, Marisa Harlen, was put in charge of her finances.  Police said instead of taking care of Olenik, Harlen treated herself to trips to the casino and a vacation to the Bahamas.  In fact, police said, Harlen stole more than $100,000. A family member said that was Olenik’s life savings.

RUC man jailed for murder of Belfast pensioner

A former police inspector is beginning an 18-year prison sentence for the  murder of and theft from a south Belfast pensioner more than 20 years ago. Kenneth Mark McConnell (59), from Prospect Downs, Carrickfergus, was a  compulsive gambler at the time he murdered Annabella Symington (77) in 1989. He had gone to her Stranmillis home to ask to borrow money, but when she  refused he suffocated her with the sleeve of her own cardigan and stole cash  from her purse. He was caught in 2010 after a reinvestigation into the case found his DNA in  fingernail clippings taken during the post-mortem examination. Yesterday at Belfast Crown Court McConnell was sentenced to serve a minimum of  18 years for the murder of Mrs Symington, and 12 months for the theft of  £200 from her house.

Ex-officer in N.J. postal workers union gets 20 months for conspiring to embezzle funds

Former secretary-treasurer of a New Jersey division of the American Postal Workers International Union was sentenced today to 20 months in prison for conspiring to embezzle funds from the union’s accounts in a case that has dragged on for more than five years.  John McGovern, 55, of Hawthorne pleaded guilty in November before U.S. District Faith S. Hochberg, admitting that he and a former union president conspired to embezzle between $120,000 and $200,000 in union funds.  In court today, Hochberg also sentenced McGovern to pay $783,931 in restitution — $583,931 to the union and $200,000 to a fidelity and deposit company in Maryland. But at the same time, the judge, looking dismayed, pointed out that there was basically no chance the money would ever be repaid. “It’s gambled away,” Hochberg said, referring to allegations that McGovern went on gambling sprees in Atlantic City with money he stole. “I assume there’s nothing left of it.”

3 men sentenced in shooting at Nebraska rodeo arena over gambling debt over boxing match

Three men have been sentenced in a shooting in western Nebraska that authorities say happened over a gambling bet in a televised boxing match.  KNOP-TV in North Platte says Jose Sosa-Florez was sentenced Monday in Lincoln County to 5 to 10 year in prison for causing serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon.  He pleaded no contest in March. Two brothers, Ezequiel Rodriguez-Serrano and Sergio Rodriguez-Serrano, pleaded no contest to terrorist threats. They were sentenced to 225 days in jail and given credit for time served.  They are in the U.S. illegally and will be deported.

 Major sports betting ring busted in NYC

Authorities in New York City have busted a major online sports betting ring, arresting 28 people in three states and seizing $5.7 million in assets.  Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan said Tuesday raids were executed in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania following a two-year, multi-law enforcement investigation.  He says the operation ran out of a Staten Island strip mall. The DA says the ringleader, 56-year-old Joseph Stentella, allegedly had customers betting on horse races, football, basketball, hockey and mixed martial arts fights. He was charged with enterprise corruption, promoting gambling and money laundering.

 Accountant gambles away stolen millions

An Auckland accountant who gambled away $5 million he stole from his employer has been sent to prison. Richard Watson used that money over 10 years to fund a $50 million gambling habit at Auckland’s Sky City Casino, and ended up in the red.  Now questions are being asked about why Sky City never asked any questions about his gambling. Watson was a trusted and highly paid employee at a company which manufactures roof tiles. He had worked there for 32 years, but in his last 10 he began stealing from his employer – The Ross Group – taking more than $5 million. “In all likelihood it would have continued beyond that, had it not been for the fact that in March 2010 it was indicated to you that the company was going to carry out an audit,” Judge Charles Blackie said in closing today.

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

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