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

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