A Brief Look at Crime 06/20 – 06/26

Stray Bullet In Gambling Tiff Kills Woman

HOUSTON — A woman was fatally shot by a stray bullet from a shootout involving her husband on the front lawn of their Houston home which related to an unpaid basketball playoff gambling debt, the Houston Chronicle reported Saturday. Police allege 37-year-old Sonya Wells died instantly after a bullet ricocheted off a steel garage door and pierced through the home’s wall, striking her as she stood in the kitchen Friday night.  Joseph Davis Jr., 38, was charged with murder in relation to the incident and is being held in the Harris County jail on a $50,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday.

 Tobey Maguire Entangled In Gambling Web

A lawsuit has been filed against ‘Spider-Man’ actor Tobey Maguire in response to his alleged involvement in an unlicensed gambling ring. The court papers filed in Los Angeles allege high profile and wealthy individuals were invited to participate in Texas Hold’em poker games at luxury hotels and private residences in Los Angeles, allegedly arranged by a woman identified as Molly Bloom. The plaintiff, Howard M. Ehrenberg, has gone after Maguire for $311,200 plus interest that this civil lawsuit claims he won in these poker games in question. Ehrenberg is a bankruptcy trustee representing investors tricked into a reported Ponzi scheme, constructed by Bradley Ruderman. Ruderman is accused of using investors’ money to finance the winnings in these alleged poker tournaments.

Maguire’s attorney and rep could not be reached for comment. The major Hollywood star is not the only notable name allegedly involved in this underground casino. Director of ‘The Notebook’ Nick Cassavetes, “Welcome Back Kotter” star Gabe Kaplan, and billionaire businessman Alec Gores also supposedly took part in the high-rolling card games.

 Mitchell Olin Sentenced to Prison for Using Clients’ Money for Costa Rican Casino Venture

Mitchell Olin — the former Broward attorney who jacked more than $380,000 from his clients — was sentenced to eight years in the slammer yesterday. As a real estate and insurance claims lawyer for seven families, Olin took the money from a trust account belonging to the families and decided to start a casino venture in Costa Rica, according to the Broward State Attorney’s Office. In three of the seven cases, he actually forged checks made out to his own clients to cash them himself. Olin’s bank caught on to the oddities in the attorney-client trust fund and reported that to the Florida Bar.

 Former Lucky Diamond casino manager accused of embezzling nearly $400K

A former manager of Lucky Diamond casinos in Missoula and Billings has been accused of embezzling more than $383,000.  Scott Peterson allegedly used casino funds to repay personal financial obligations and attempted to cover his tracks by altering accounting records, according to court records filed in Missoula County Justice Court. Peterson is charged with three counts of felony theft by embezzlement, one count of felony deceptive practices and one count of felony evidence tampering.  Peterson, who court records claim confessed to the embezzlement, is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Justice Court on June 28.

 Gambling mom left girl, 3, alone in motel

Police say a 3-year-old girl was left alone at in a Washington state motel room while her mother gambled at a casino. Seattle television station KOMO reports that police were called to the Fife motel about 2 a.m. Monday when the manager found the girl wandering alone in the parking lot. The mother and her boyfriend returned about 5:30 a.m. and said they had been at a casino and lost track of time, according to reports. The mother was arrested for investigation of child abandonment and the boyfriend for investigation of drug offenses. The child is in state care.

Ex-Tulare banker gets prison time for embezzling

A former Tulare County bank manager is heading to prison after pleading no contest to embezzling from customer accounts to feed a gambling habit. A judge sentenced 57-year-old Jeri Sell on Monday to four years in prison and ordered her to pay $1.2 million in restitution. Prosecutors say Sell stole $650,000 from four customers while working as the manager of Citizen’s Business Bank in Tulare from 2003 until last year. Sell’s attorney argued for probation, noting her years of volunteer work and saying her gambling problem amounted to a mental illness. But Judge Brett Alldredge ordered her behind bars, saying he believed she’s remorseful but that “she made a deliberate choice” to take the money.

 Police: Mobster Whitey Bulger arrested in Calif.

James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious Boston gangster on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list for his alleged role in 19 murders, was captured Wednesday near Los Angeles after living on the run for 16 years, authorities said.  Bulger, 81, was arrested along with his longtime girlfriend, 60-year-old Catherine Greig, in the early evening at a residence in Santa Monica, said a law enforcement official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. The arrest was based on a tip from the recent publicity campaign that federal authorities had regenerated, according to the official. Bulger faces a series of federal charges including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, narcotics distribution, extortion and money laundering.  Bulger, nicknamed “Whitey” for his shock of bright platinum hair, grew up in a gritty South Boston housing project, and went on to become Boston’s most notorious gangster. He led the violent Winter Hill Gang, a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets in the Boston area.

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