A Brief Look at Crime 08/22 – 08/28

Arson Fire Kills 53 in a Casino in Mexico

Armed men burst into a casino in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey on Thursday and set a fire that killed at least 53 people and injured several others, the authorities said.  The attack, shortly after 3 p.m. at the Casino Royale, was the worst massacre, according to tallies by Mexican news organizations, since a crackdown on drug gangs by the authorities and infighting among the gangs exploded more than five years ago.

Monterrey, once a peaceful business and industrial hub in Nuevo Leon State, has been hit hard by the violence as at least two major criminal organizations battle for control. Bodies are regularly found hanging from overpasses, several people have been killed in bars and the American consulate there has moved the younger children of its workers from the city. Casinos, growing in number across the country, have also emerged lately as targets of extortion, violence and money laundering.

 Assistant Accused of Stealing From Best-Selling Author Melody Beattie

Who would steal from their boss? A Twin Cities woman is accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from her employer, who also happens to be a famous author. It all came together in April around tax time, when author Melody Beattie’s accountant said they were missing some bank statements, and some checks weren’t accounted for. The author, who’s an expert on how not to get manipulated by addicts, allegedly had just that happen to her. Beattie is the mother of the co-dependency and addiction movements. She wrote the best seller Co-Dependent No More and 40 other self-help addiction books. Beattie is managed by her personal assistant in Minnesota, Sharon Schultz. Prosecutors say Schultz was stealing money right under her nose to support a gambling problem — allegations she denies. 289 checks in five years, totaling $400,000.

Four arrested in fatal shooting of armored truck guard

Authorities have arrested four people in connection with Sunday’s fatal shooting of an armored truck guard at Calder Casino and Race Course in Miami Gardens. Victoria Barkley, 26, Vladimir Louissant, 25, Byron Kyler, 23 and Reginald Mitchell, 26, face federal charges in the shooting and robbery, according to the FBI. All four suspects are fromMiami Gardens. The South Florida Violent Crimes Task Force made the arrests. The Brinks armored truck guard was shot as he walked out of the casino around 5 p.m. after a scheduled stop. He was flown to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center where he later died.

Calder killing suspects gambled at Seminole Hard Rock after heist, investigators say

A young man and woman strolled into the Seminole Hard Rock Casino near Hollywood Sunday night, where the sweethearts got new Player’s Club cards and spent an hour and a half hitting the slot machines. Federal investigators said they gambled with stolen cash, grabbed during a deadly robbery earlier in the day of an armored car courier at the Calder Casino and Race Course in Miami Gardens, where the boyfriend, Reginald Mitchell, 26, worked. They played the slots for about an hour and a half, Bitner said. Meanwhile, Louissant’s story at the hospital — that he was shot while playing basketball in Miami Gardens — fell apart under questioning by police. So did Kyler’s stolen truck report. After their night of gambling, Barkley dropped Mitchell off near his home, and then deposited $1,000 into her bank account before her arrest, according to authorities.

Prosecutors Ask Court To Freeze $30 Million Tied To Alleged Gambling Scheme

The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to freeze about $30 million that prosecutors say forms the laundered proceeds of a massive illegal gambling operation in the Dutch Caribbean. In federal court documents unsealed Friday in Washington, prosecutors said the funds are spread among three UBS investment accounts in Miami held by shell companies, which in turn are controlled by Robertico Alejandro dos Santos, a Curacao national who runs legal gambling operations on both Curacao and St. Maarten under the name “Robbie’s Lottery.” Authorities in Curacao have been investigating allegations that dos Santos has collected about $54 million in illegal profits since 2004 through the sale of forged lottery tickets, using his legitimate businesses as a front, according to court documents.

Gambler fleeces taxpayer of $85,500

A Hawke’s Bay women’s rugby representative and mother of six has fleeced $85,528 from taxpayers to fund her gambling habit. Hirani Elizabeth Sciascia, 30, appeared in Hastings District Court last week and was sentenced to nine months’ home detention for benefit fraud spanning seven years. Her lawyer, Catherine Clarkson, said Sciascia’s offending arose only from a need to feed her chronic addiction to gambling. The illness often meant Sciascia’s family had little money for food and rent and the electricity to her home had been disconnected. On benefit applications, Ms Sciascia had failed to state she was living with her partner. Since 2003, she received a total overpayment of $85,528 for benefits including domestic purposes, accommodation supplements, special benefit, disability allowance, special needs grants and a training incentive allowance.

Wife of accused killer of neighbor linked to thefts

The wife and stepmother of two men charged in the stabbing death of their 92-year-old neighbor helped them burglarize the woman and used the stolen money to gamble and buy expensive cars, state police said Monday. Diane McClelland, 48, of Coal Center, was jailed on charges of conspiracy, receiving stolen property, hindering apprehension and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity stemming from at least four burglaries at the home of her neighbor, Evelyn Stepko. Ms. McClelland’s husband, David A. McClelland, 56, and his son, David J. McClelland, 36, each await trial on charges that they stole from Ms. Stepko for years before fatally stabbing her in July.

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

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