A Brief Look at Crime 09/05 – 09/11

Former Deptartment of Revenue auditor sentenced to prison

The architect of a scheme to defraud Minnesotans out of nearly $2 million was sentenced to five years in federal prison Wednesday. Pamela Dellis, a former auditor for the Minnesota Department of Revenue, said a gambling addiction caused her to concoct a scheme that involved creating more than 200 phony state tax refunds. Dellis enlisted her sister and niece to help with the fraud that lasted nearly five years.  All three had pleaded guilty earlier. “This is a serious and shocking violation of the public trust,” Ericksen said.

 Ex-Aventura condo manager charged with grand theft

More than a year after a complaint was filed with authorities that an Aventura condominium association manager had embezzled about half a million dollars from the association, the State Attorney’s Office has issued an arrest warrant for the confessed suspect, according to Aventura police. Green said the board hired an accounting firm to analyze the condominium association’s account. According to the firm, Rodriguez had allegedly taken about $506,956 from the association from January 2007 to February 2010. The charges are first-degree felonies. “What has made me lose everything I love, my job, my friends, my home, has been an addiction to gambling,’’ she wrote. “I don’t have words to express the shame, humiliation, and hurt that I feel,” Rodriguez added. “I have no words to express this and I take full responsibility for my actions.”

Indiana gambling police post 40 arrests

The Indiana police agency designated to search the state for illegal gambling has arrested more than 40 people on more than 80 gambling-related criminal charges over the past two years. Few states have similar gambling control police, which Indiana legislators created in 2007 to crack down on illegal gambling when they approved adding slot machines at the state’s two horse racing tracks. The Gaming Control Division, part of the Indiana Gaming Commission, reports that more than 5,000 illegal electronic gambling machines often called Cherry Masters are no longer operating in the state, with many of them confiscated.

 Tropicana pays $15K civil penalty

New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow announced a settlement on Friday between the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement and the Tropicana Casino and Resort. Tropicana agreed to a civil monetary penalty of $15,000 after allegedly allowing a person on the exclusion list to gamble without ejecting him as required. “Maintaining integrity within this industry is paramount. We have strict regulations in place to prevent individuals on the exclusion list from gambling in Atlantic City,” David Rebuck, the acting director of the division, said. “I commend Deputy Attorney General R. Lane Stebbins and Investigator George Homa, who uncovered the violations and worked with Tropicana to resolve the charges.”

 Butte woman sentenced for embezzling from union

A 57-year-old Butte woman has been sentenced to three years in prison after she pleaded guilty to embezzling between $170,000 and $220,000 from a labor union. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula sentenced Teresa Wilson to the prison term on Wednesday and ordered her to pay nearly $125,000 in restitution. Wilson pleaded guilty in in May to labor union embezzlement, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Prosecutors allege she took the money over six years to feed a gambling habit.

 Bombers assistant coach banned for betting on his team

Essendon assistant coach Dean Wallis has accepted a 14-match ban from the AFL for making the ”stupid” decision to gamble on AFL matches. AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson said the ban would have been less severe if Wallis had not been ”untruthful” with AFL investigators. Wallis was also fined $7500. The lengthy suspension has rocked the Bombers as they prepare for Sunday’s elimination final against Carlton at the MCG. An AFL investigation involved a review of the original bet at a Bendigo pub-TAB as well as a review of CCTV and betting records at a suburban Melbourne TAB agency. ”What I did was obviously stupid and thoughtless. The situation was only made worse by not fully co-operating with the AFL investigation.

 NJ Investment Adviser Gets 14-Year Prison Sentence For $11.5M Fraud

The owner of a New Jersey-based investment-advising company received a 14-year prison sentence Tuesday after pleading guilty to an $11.5 million fraud, the Justice Department said.  Sandra Venetis, 60, solicited funds from approximately 114 investors over a period of about 13 years, claiming the money would be used in a fictitious investment program that purportedly funded loans to doctors for their quarterly pension plans, according to a release from the department. However, the department said she never transferred any investment money to doctors and created fictitious doctors or forged the names of real doctors on promissory notes to appear she was using investor funds as indicated. Venetis has said she stole money, using investors’ funds to pay for gambling debts in Las Vegas and elsewhere, as well as trips to locales such as Alaska, Italy, France, India and the Caribbean.

Suspect Accused of Stealing $500,000

Investigators with the State Attorney’s Office said James Jackson Jr. took $500,000 from 70-year-old Judith Grimes after promising to use the money for a private investment program.  Jackson, 45, of 4208 Walden View Drive in Brandon, told investigators he invested the money in private funds offered by insurance companies investing in “investment grade” bonds that paid between 38 percent and 42 percent interest. Jackson claimed his clients ultimately earned between 10.5 percent and 11 percent interest on their investments. However, “all previous returns of ‘investments’ seem to have been made from other investors’ monies,” meaning Jackson was running a Ponzi scheme, according to an affidavit. Investigators questioned Jackson about his gambling habits and discovered that he purchased about $252,000 in chips at the Seminole Hard Rock since July 2010.

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

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