Monthly Archives: October 2011

Florida Hotel and Restaurant group is against Las Vegas stytle casino expansion.

Casino Watch Focus has explained that a recent court ruling at the appellate level in Florida has currently paved the way for Florida legislature to pass expanded gambling legislation without a vote from the people.  Key groups immediate came out against this possible gambling expansion.  Casino Watch Focus specifically reported that The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Disney, the Orange County Sheriff and No Casinos Inc were among the original voices to speak out.  Now the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has come out against expansion as well.  The Orlando Sentinel explains:

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association released an overview of its legislative priorities for the 2012 legislative session and among them is the defeat of the destination casino bill.

“Florida is considered one of the most family-friendly destination locations in the world,” a release from the group outlining the priorities reads. “Should we gamble our decades of work to build our wholesome reputation on the risky proposition that those big spending foreign gamblers will solve our economic problems?”

The court ruling could still be challenged to the Florida Supreme Court.  However, if the ruling stands and legislators can pass bills without a vote of the people, they would be wise to remember that they still represent the people and their reelection ability will hinge on such representation.  An online source revealed that only 20% of Florida voters support expansion of gambling:

While some politicians and lobbyists in Tallahassee seem mesmerized by the neon lights and garish glitter of high-stakes casino gambling, an overwhelming majority of likely Florida voters either want gambling scaled back or left as is.

“Voters know that more gambling never lives up to the promises made by gambling interests,” said No Casinos President John Sowinski. “The Florida Lottery was supposed to save education – It did not. Slots in Dade and Broward were supposed to pay big dividends to schools – They have not. Now a Malaysian gambling conglomerate and Las Vegas casino giants are making even bigger promises. Florida voters are smart enough to see through their smokescreen.”

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


A Brief Look at Crime 10/17 – 10/23

Hester says he was assaulted at Illinois casino

Police say Hester was in a cashier line Friday night at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines when Daniel Rago slapped the player in the back of the head with his hand and then walked away. The 52-year-old  Rago of Mount Prospect faces one misdemeanor count of battery after the incident, which was captured on surveillance camera.  Police Chief Jim Prandini says Hester didn’t retaliate, calling him a “perfect gentleman” when he reported to the casino what happened. He says Rago had been drinking and later explained he was just trying to slap Hester’s hat off. Two days later, Hester caught a touchdown pass and added a career-long, 98-yard kickoff return for a score that helped Chicago beat Minnesota Vikings 39-10.

 Gambling bust nabs 14 Islanders in Gambino crime family-controlled ring

Talk about predatory lending – authorities say they’ve busted a mob-run loansharking and gambling operation that forced its debtors to keep on betting the numbers as a condition of borrowing cash. Yesterday, the state attorney general’s office and the NYPD arrested 37 people – 14 of them from Staten Island – in connection with a Gambino crime family-controlled ring that brought in millions of dollars. Authorities dubbed their investigation “Operation Flat Rate,” and focused on three interconnected criminal enterprises – two illegal sports-gambling operations run through off-shore wire rooms, and a “policy operation” wherein people placed wagers on daily New York Lottery results, authorities allege. The sports-betting operations generated millions of dollars’ worth of wagers on college and professional sports, as well as horse races, said state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

 Korat Business Woman Brutally Murdered at Cambodia Casino Hotel

“Jeh Hongyok” a well known transport business owner, money lender and   millionaire from Nakornratchasima was murdered in a casino hotel room in Cambodia. The murderer stole 3 million THB; the victims winnings from the casino. The corpse of Mrs.Chanatda was discovered with tied hands and legs and had been hit on the head was hit by a hard object and there were many stab wounds on the victims neck. The murderer had also put a plastic bag on the victims head. Upon investigation the police found that the deceased had more than 3 million THB in cash from gambling at the casino. There was no trace of the cash in the hotel room. The police assumes the motive for the killing was money.

 Caretaker’s Ex: Gambling Habit May Have Led to Theft

The former boyfriend of a caretaker accused of stealing more than $100,000 from a 90 year old Sun Valley man says her gambling habit may have triggered the theft. Investigators say 45 year old Sherry Crawford stole $119,000 from Onesty while acting as his caretaker for two years. Crawford, who says the two aren’t married, but share a daughter, said she admitted the theft to him. He told us he and rejected her when she told him what she had done. “I told her she couldn’t be with me, if she’d done such a thing,” said Crawford, who says he is now with a Christian life recovery group. Leaving Tennessee, she apparently went to family in Springfield, Missouri. She was arrested there this week and has now apparently waived extradition. She’s expected to be brought back to Reno later this month.

Casino-related crimes on the rise: Public prosecutor

Macau’s public prosecutions office says the number of casino-related cases is increasing. “There was a growth in the number of money-laundering cases connected with the gaming industry, mainly with illegal gambling in VIP rooms,” the public prosecutions office said today in a press release. During the first eight months of 2010, the number of money-laundering cases handled by the public prosecutions office soared by 40 percent year-on-year, the body said, without providing figures.  At the same time, illegal gambling and loan sharking cases went up by 6 percent, while those of extortion and fraud went up by 11 percent. According to the public prosecutions office, theft and robbery cases went up by 23 percent year-on-year from January to August, with a “significant increase” in the number of thefts taking place inside casinos or somehow related to the gaming industry.

Columbia S.C. Secret Service Take Down Two Online Gambling Processor Shells

The Sheriff’s Office in Greenville County South Carolina and the Secret Service have been investigating for months now two fake investment firms which were shell companies that allegedly hid illegal gambling revenue from foreign based online casinos which paid players in South Carolina in an amount that reached over $40 million allegedly. U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said the investigation led to the seizure of more than $2 million in laundered money which is tied to online poker.

Stolen $1m diamond ring sold in Thailand

A Melbourne man who stole a $1 million diamond ring from a jewellery store in a smash-and-grab burglary sold it in Thailand for just $300,000, a court has heard. George Georgiou, 32, formerly of Northcote, smashed the window of Hardy Brothers Jewellers in Melbourne’s CBD and plucked the 9.1-carat ring from the display on March 29, 2009. Mr Elston said Georgiou was also charged with stealing a unique diamond ring worth $26,885 from a stallholder at Melbourne’s Camberwell market on November 11, 2008. He said the stallholder had removed the 2.6-carat diamond ring from her finger to allow Georgiou a closer inspection, but when she turned to serve another client he fled with it while her eyes were averted. Ms Gleeson said Georgiou, a former stonemason, had a long criminal history of theft.  She said Georgiou claimed the offences were to fund a gambling problem.

Former South Korea football coach found dead

SEOUL: A former coach of South Korea’s military  football club was found dead on Wednesday in an apparent suicide related to his involvement in a major  match-fixing scandal this year, police said. Police said  Lee Soo-Cheol, 45, apparently hanged himself in his apartment home south of Seoul. He had led the Sangju Sangmu  Phoenix, a  K-League member, from October 2010 to July, when prosecutors charged 57 people — 46 current and former players and 11 criminal gang members and gambling brokers — for fixing 15 matches last year.

Woman jailed over $400,000 theft from Avoca winery

A GAMBLING addict was jailed yesterday after she poured almost half-a-million dollars into poker machines over a three-and-a-half year period ­— money she stole from a winery where she worked at the time. Jennifer Anne Berrigan, 53, from Avoca, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison after she exploited her position of maintaining the accounts and payments for Summerfield Wines. In total, she stole $422,750 from the family-owned business. The County Court in Ballarat yesterday heard that Berrigan had used the money to feed her gambling habit, almost exclusively pouring it into poker machines.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 10/10 – 10/16

‘Girls Gone Wild’ founder loses in US state court

Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis thought he’d beaten the house out of a $2 million gambling debt, but the Nevada state Supreme Court says he’ll have to pay anyway. Francis faced separate criminal and civil cases stemming from claims he borrowed the money with casino credit in May 2007 and didn’t pay it back. He was cleared of criminal wrongdoing three weeks ago, but the Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a civil ruling that ordered him to pay the money. Nevada Supreme Court spokesman Bill Gang told The Associated Press on Friday that the civil ruling stands despite the criminal exoneration by a Las Vegas judge last month. Gang says civil and criminal cases have different standards of proof.

 Fired West Hartford Office Manager Goes To Prison For Stealing Nearly $500,000

A woman who stole a half-million dollars from her employer over five years to make up for her husband’s gambling debts was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison Friday. She pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny on Feb. 15, two years after she was fired from the company, Maier Design Group, formerly of West Hartford. On Friday, she apologized, saying, “I will pay it all back, even if it takes me forever.” Calling the crime, “abhorrent,” prosecutor Edward Narus said the trusted former office manager acted as if the company was her own. She gave herself money for hours she didn’t work and used company funds to pay for personal expenses including a car loan, college tuition and flowers for funerals, birthdays and anniversaries. She put her sister on the payroll, even though the woman didn’t work at the company, he said. Walasewicz continued stealing, even as co-workers around her lost raises and got laid off, Narus said. Despite the losses, the company was able to stay in business.

Funds stolen from clients nets guilty plea

A Dunkirk woman who stole $300,000 from unsuspecting homeowners while working as a housing counselor has pleaded guilty. While working for HomeFront Inc., [she] inappropriately requested money from clients by falsely telling them the funds would be used toward modifying their mortgages to prevent foreclosure on their homes. Instead, she used the money for personal expenditures including gambling and never delivered any loan modifications to those who paid.

Lawyer says Las Vegas priest who admitted stealing $650,000 from church was compulsive gambler

A lawyer for a Roman Catholic priest who admits siphoning $650,000 from his Las Vegas parish’s bank accounts says the priest is trying to recover from a compulsive gambling addiction. Monsignor Kevin McAuliffe’s attorney, Margaret Stanish, tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal the 58-year-old McAuliffe is remorseful and wants to make restitution to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Summerlin. McAuliffe pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas to three federal mail fraud charges. He admits taking the money over an eight-year period. He faces up to 60 years in federal prison and $750,000 in fines at sentencing Jan. 6. The Review-Journal says McAuliffe was drawn to video poker.

Casino Arrests Stir Scandal in Mexico

A mounting corruption scandal related to illegal casinos is damaging President Felipe Calderón’s conservative party, whose fight against organized crime has long been a central aim. The scandal stems from an attack on a Monterrey casino in late August by alleged members of the Zetas drug cartel, who set a gasoline-fueled fire that killed 52 casino visitors, including a pregnant woman.  On Thursday, Mexico’s army said it had captured the alleged mastermind of the attack, Carlos Alberto Oliva, nicknamed “The Frog.” Mr. Oliva is seen as the No. 3 leader of the Zetas, who have terrorized much of Mexico through murder, extortions and kidnappings. “This is a very important blow against the Zetas,” Nuevo Leon Lt. Gov. Javier Treviño said in an interview. In the last two years, Nuevo Leon and its capital Monterrey have become a battleground between the Zetas and their former employers, the Gulf Cartel. Days after the Casino Royale fire, Monterrey’s leading newspaper published a video showing the brother of the PAN mayor of Monterrey, Fernando Larrazabal, receiving wads of money at one Monterrey casino. The paper suggested that many of the city’s casinos, which lack legal permits, were paying off city officials—and drug gangs—to stay open.

Feds, Greenville Sheriff Report $2 Million Seized

The Secret Service and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office tracked down and seized more than $2 million from a money laundering scheme tied to online poker operations, officials said Thursday. U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said a months-long investigation uncovered two shell companies used to hide illegal gambling proceeds. The two foreign-based companies sent more than $40 million into the U.S. and the money was tied to payouts to players in South Carolina and other states, Nettles said. The fake investment firms were “shell companies used to transfer large amounts of money into the United States and to hide the true sources of their funds,” Nettles said in a news release.

Oak Creek youth football embezzlement case ends in guilty verdict

On trial Thursday for embezzling at least $35,000 from Oak Creek Youth Football, Dennis Schulte testified that, for a league treasurer, he wasn’t very organized about money. He never opened his bank statements and figured if the ATM gave him cash, he had the funds. Schulte, 49, was charged last year with using the group’s money for gambling, a Mexican vacation, car payments and other personal expenses. He was found guilty on Thursday. “I believe he knew what he was doing,” the judge said. “He was desperate for money,” and the youth football funds were available to him.  

 Man stole $69k from employer, lost everything at casino

A man who stole $69,000 from his employer and gambled away the money at a casino was jailed for one year on Friday. Daniel Ang Kok Peng, 38, who pleaded guilty, was a senior sales executive at Dickson Watch and Jewellery at Orchard Road when he committed the offence on July 31. After he had surrendered himself to the police the next day, the assistant store manager made a check and found $69,000 missing from the safe. The court heard that Ang was having financial difficulties. He stole the money and went to the casino at Resorts World Sentosa where he lost everything.

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


Florida Chamber of Commerce, Disney and others oppose casino expansion in Florida

Casino Watch Focus reported that  a recent court ruling at the appellate level in Florida is paving the way for Florida legislature to pass expanded gambling legislation without a vote from the people.  As has been reported in the past, many Las Vegas companies are hoping to bring full scale destination gambling resorts to Florida.  Now that the Vegas companies are one step closer to achieving their goal, many key groups are standing up against gambling expansion and casinos in specific. The Orland Sentinel explains:

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is among those lining up against a destination casino bill that could bring three Las Vegas-style resorts to South Florida. The Chamber, along with representatives of Walt Disney World, No Casinos, Inc., and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings met with the Orlando Sentinel editorial board Thursday to talk about its opposition to gambling.

Wilson said that, for the past decade, he and chamber members have been trying to build Florida’s “economy of the future” by diversifying the state’s range of employers and attracting higher-paid, higher-tech jobs. All of this, he said, could be endangered by the growth of what he called ”commercial casino gambling.”

The Florida Chamber of Commerce practices what it preaches as well. As is common with gambling interests, they sent money to the Florida Chamber in hopes of gaining their support.  The Chamber went on record that they weren’t interested.  The Miami Herald explains:

Florida Chamber President Mark Wilson went to great lengths to say Thursday that his organization had refused to accept checks from gaming interests. “We’ve returned their checks. You cannot buy our support,” he told the Orlando Sentinel editorial board. “My organization is not willing for a minute to risk the future of Florida for a quick buck. … Commercial casino gambling is one of the biggest threats to the future of Florida that is on the drawing board right now.”

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


A Brief Look at Crime 10/03 – 10/09

Holden woman who gambled at Hollywood Slots with stolen $280,000 gets 3½ years in prison

A Holden woman was sentenced Friday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to eight years in prison with all but 3½ years suspended for stealing nearly $300,000 from mobile home sales to spend at Hollywood Slots, according to the Maine Attorney General’s Office. Tammy Barker, 43, also was sentenced to three years of probation.  Barker made 85 ATM withdrawals totaling $250,000 that she spent at Hollywood Slots, from late 2005 — when it opened its interim facility in the former Miller’s Restaurant — through 2006, according to Assistant Attorney General Leann Robbin, who prosecuted the case. In addition to prison time, Barker was ordered to pay $81,126 in restitution to the victims.

Center resident pleads guilty to federal fraud charges  

A Center Township financial planner has pleaded guilty to federal charges connected with the theft of $2.5 million from 25 different people to fuel his gambling addiction, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh said.  John D. Wosotowsky, 51, of 843 Monaca Road, pleaded guilty to  charges of mail fraud and filing a false income tax return in U.S. District Court on Thursday.  Prosecutors said Wosotowsky, an employee of MetLife Securities, built a pyramid scheme in the last decade, convincing investors to pay into a product he said was a part of the MetLife system but was actually a series of accounts he controlled. Using fake changes of address and requests for disbursements, Wosotowsky was able to build a substantial personal account, but he never invested money given to him by others.

Area social clubs sentenced in federal gambling probe

A federal judge has penalized three area social clubs to the tune of nearly $300,000 for operating illegal casinos.  U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal imposed the penalties as part of an investigation that focused on an Athens-based gaming company that authorities say conspired with the clubs and convenience stores to split illegal gambling profits.  Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2872 in Athens must pay a $108,000 forfeiture to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and Loyal Order of Moose Lodge 262 in Winder will have to pay a court fine of $150,000, according to sentences passed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Athens. The VFW post won’t be able to have video gaming machines during the one-year probation that Royal imposed, and the Moose club can’t have any machines for five years. The judge ordered Moose Lodge 1099 in Elberton to pay a $30,000 forfeiture during sentencing on Sept. 7, when he placed the club on probation for five years in which it cannot have gaming machines.

 3 Union County men plead guilty to operating illegal poker club in Kenilworth

Three Union County men who operated an illegal poker club, working as card dealers, pleaded guilty to illegal gambling charges today in federal court in Newark. Anthony “Brooklyn” Alfano, 77, of Union, Tonino “Tony” Colantonio, 32, of Kenilworth, and Guiseppe “Pepe” Pugliese, 33, also of Kenilworth, entered guilty pleas to one count each of illegal gambling and illegal gambling conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh, Department of Justice officials said. Under New Jersey law, a gambling business is considered illegal if operated by five or more people for more than 30 days without a license. The business must also take in more than $2,000 a day

 Feds sue Nevada hotel for harassing Hispanics

The federal government is suing a Nevada hotel for allegedly allowing its Hispanic employees to be called derogatory names such as “taco bell” and “bean burrito.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Friday that it had filed a lawsuit against the Pioneer Hotel in Laughlin, Nev., for ignoring the alleged harassment. Federal officials say hotel managers were first told in 2006 that several Hispanic room attendants had been subject to the comments referencing their ethnicity and skin color. The comments came from coworkers and supervisors. Some of the comments were profane. The hotel allegedly didn’t take action to prevent or correct the harassment in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act. Federal officials say some Nevada casinos seem to be retaliating against employees who complain about hostile work environments.

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


Update: Florida court ruling expands gambling

Casino Watch Focus reported  that an appeals court was looking at a case that could have major gambling expansion implications; implications that could affect the entire state and likely evoke the Supreme Court to resolve the matter. The case involved the constitutionality of legislation to expand slot machines outside of Miami-Dade county.  Now, the Palm Beach Post is reporting that the court has affirmed the lower court ruling, thus allowing slots anywhere in Florida:

State lawmakers can authorize slot machines anywhere in Florida, an appellate court ruled Thursday. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal affirmed a prior decision that could open the door to letting the Legislature permit casino resorts in the state. More immediately the unanimous ruling makes Hialeah’s race track eligible for slots, although the opinion may be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

 This ruling, if allowed stand, essentially takes the vote for expanding gambling away from the people. This would open the door for major gambling expansion projects that could severely impact a community, and they would have no say in the matter.  The St. Petersburg Times explains:

The ruling was hailed by Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, who want legislators to approve their proposal to build three resort casinos in Miami Dade and Broward Counties without first having to seek voter approval. They have filed identical proposals to invite companies to submit bids for three casino licenses to a newly created Florida Gaming Commission.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 09/26 – 10/02

Hells Angel’s slaying prompts state of emergency in Nevada city

The fatal shooting of a California Hells Angels leader during a casino melee with a rival gang Friday night has prompted the mayor of Sparks, Nev., to declare a state of emergency and cancel an annual motorcycle event, authorities said.  “The safety and security of the public is our No. 1 priority,” Mayor Geno Martini said in a  statement Saturday.  No suspects have been arrested in the fatal shooting of Jeffrey Pettigrew, 51, president of the San Jose Chapter of the Hells Angels, and the shootings of two members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club during the brawl at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino Resort, authorities said. Leonard Ramirez, 45, was in stable condition at a hospital with a gunshot wound to the abdomen, and Diego Garcia, 28, was in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the leg, authorities said.

 Ex-officer gets 20 years for stealing $656K from union

When Ray Hunt, vice president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, saw one of the organization’s treasurers betting with orange chips at a Louisiana casino in 2004, he had to ask what they were worth.  “They were thousand-dollar chips,” Hunt testified. “I bet with red chips. They’re five dollars.” The man with a fistful of orange chips was Matthew Calley, 46, who was sentenced on Friday to 20 years in prison for stealing more than $656,000 from the union over seven years. Hunt testified that he asked a friend of Calley’s if the veteran officer had a gambling problem.

City Woman Embezzled $560,000 From American Diabetes Association

A city woman faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for embezzling almost $570,000 from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and using the stolen money to buy fancy clothes and gamble.  Adrienne Carrington, 56, of Fredericksburg, pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud, according to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Neil H. MacBride and Assistant Director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office James W. McJunkin. She will be sentenced on Jan. 20. “Adrienne Carrington abused her position of trust to rip  off half-a-million dollars from the American Diabetes Association in an  extremely callous crime,” said MacBride. “Instead of  helping the 25 million Americans affected by this serious disease, she stole the organization’s money and spent it  gambling, buying fancy clothes, and dining out.”

Sparks man sentenced to 20 years in prison for “inside job” robbery of Gold Ranch Casino

A 26-year-old Sparks man whom authorities said was part of an “inside job” of robbing the cash vault of a Verdi casino and then spent thousands of dollars of the stolen loot on prostitutes, jewelry, alcohol and expensive hotel suites was ordered Friday to serve up to 20 years in prison.  Kimbell’s friend, Edward Lozano, 30, had been a bartender at the casino and gave Kimbell the key to the casino vault, authorities said. Kimbell stole more than $190,000 from the vault, while Reno police recovered around $140,000 from Kimbell’s storage shed. Officials estimated the pair blew about $30,000 — in the three days before they were arrested — on clothing, cell phones, jewelry, hotel suites, “partying,” and heavily tipping nightclub staff. Several thousand dollars in cash were also seized from the men when they were arrested at their hotels, police said.

Feds Move to Seize Assets Belonging to Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson

US Federal authorities have moved to seize assets belonging to Full Tilt Poker pros Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer and Rafe Furst.  The three were named as defendants in a civil complaint alleging they were part of an elaborate “ponzi scheme” related to Full Tilt Poker. The Feds claim that the three men pilfered the company to pay their bloated salaries by removing funds belonging to customers.  According to the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, five accounts associated with those individuals have since been restrained. 

Deadly price of gambling

British Columbia’s addiction to gambling is continuing to reap sad stories. But despite mounting evidence that gambling expansion has created a host of social problems, the government has been slow to do anything about them.  Most recently, a B.C. man is calling on casinos to do more to help addicted gamblers after his wife committed suicide in Lynn Canyon in North Vancouver. She had accumulated a six-figure gambling debt in B.C. casinos.  Figures show suicides linked to gambling addictions are increasing. So are a host of other problems. Twenty years ago, it was a rarity to find people in criminal court who had gambling addiction. Not any longer. One suggestion to help problem gamblers is a requirement that those entering casinos show their identification at the door. That makes a lot of sense. It’s a minimal imposition and one that could also help address other problems in the gambling industry, such as money laundering and loansharking.

 Man called girlfriend before setting himself and car on fire

A second-hand car dealer who died after setting fire to himself and his car in March this year, had called his girlfriend to tell her of his intention to kill himself. The deceased also told her that he thought life was meaningless, and said he planned to meet his mother in the after-life.  Mr Chen’s mother had died a year ago. According to Ms Chen, he felt guilty for not spending enough time with her, and became addicted to gambling.  He had lost more than $120,000 at the casinos, and was left with a debt of $72,500 at the time of his death.  His burnt body and car were found at a parking lot along East Coast Parkway.

 Saginaw police say illegal gambling ‘not a victimless crime’

Illegal gambling rings such as the Saginaw County numbers game network that police say was managed by retired foundry workers in their 70s are not harmless operations, law enforcers say.  Such a criminal enterprise — especially when combined with the drugs and weapons police also found during countywide raids executed Sept. 21 against 24 suspects within the group — can lead to deadly situations, Saginaw Police Sgt. Kevin Revard will tell you. “This is not a victimless crime,” he said. As proof, police point to three Saginaw robberies-turned-murders since 1997 that they’ve linked to other gambling rings. Some of those rings may have involved some of the same players as the group facing scrutiny today, police said.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 09/19 – 09/25

Feds: Tierney kin’s gambling ring took in $22M

A multimillion-dollar sports betting Web site run by U.S. Rep. John Tierney’s brothers-in-law “was truly a family affair” and paid $500,000 for a helicopter on top of at least $20,000 in personal purchases by the Salem Democrat’s convicted wife, according to newly filed court papers.

The high-flying expenditure was part of a $10 million gambling profits money-laundering scheme outlined in the brief filed by federal prosecutors ahead of the trial of Patrice Tierney’s brother, Daniel Eremian, next month. Meanwhile, at least $22 million in receipts were collected by the operation, the feds said.

Free on a $250,000 bond, Daniel Eremian declined comment yesterday when reached at home in Florida. He will be tried alongside Todd Lyons, 38, of Beverly, who prosecutors say collected more than $22 million in debts for the brothers between 1998 and 2006. Charged with racketeering, illegal gambling and money laundering, he did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Crown patrons have been bashed, burned, sexually assaulted

A log of ambulance call-outs to the Southbank establishment reveals the full extent of injuries and accidents, with 231 serious incidents reported in the first seven months of this year. Visitors to the Melbourne casino have also suffered heart attacks and strokes, attempted suicide and been electrocuted on the gambling floor or in the entertainment complex. Separate data from the National Coroner’s office shows 22 people have died unexpectedly at the casino in the past nine years. Fourteen deaths were deemed to be from natural causes. There was also a suicide, a fall and two drug overdoses. Four other deaths are still being probed by the State Coroner, including a woman in her 60s who died in 2009, an infant and a 45-year-old man who both died last year and Arthur Dunning who died after a confrontation with bouncers at the casino this year.

Employee of Pompano company accused of stealing nearly $1.1 million

An employee of a Pompano Beach electronics business was arrested Tuesday after being accused of embezzling nearly $1.1 million in 27 months. She admitted to her boss she took money because of a gambling problem, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest affidavit.  Yvette Snellbaker, 45, had been the controller for Lynn Electronics, overseeing the finances of the company that specializes in copper and fiber cabling applications, according to Sheriff’s reports. She had worked for Lynn Electronics since 1999, moving from the Pennsylvania office to the Florida operation in 2009.  When the owner confronted Snellbaker last month about missing money, she admitted writing checks to herself and blamed her actions on gambling, according to Sheriff’s reports.

U.S. Alleges Full Tilt Poker Was Ponzi Scheme

The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday accused poker celebrities Howard Lederer and Christopher Ferguson among other executives of a major poker website of defrauding poker players out of more than $300 million. The U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York filed a motion Tuesday to amend an earlier civil complaint to allege that Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Lederer and two other directors for the website, Full Tilt Poker, operated what the Justice Department says was a Ponzi scheme that allowed the company to pay out $444 million to themselves and other owners, which included other famous poker players.

In the motion to amend the complaint, the government alleges Full Tilt executives misrepresented to the website’s players that the money the company was supposed to be holding in player accounts was safely held when it was actually being used for other purposes, including payments to owners. The distributions to the owners, including Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Lederer, continued even as funds to pay out creditors—the poker players—dwindled because government investigators had made it increasingly impossible to move player money into company-affiliated bank accounts, the government says. “Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme,” said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, in a statement.

SD woman who oversaw estates sentenced

A woman appointed by a San Diego probate court to oversee estates and conservatorships has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing some of those funds to support a gambling addiction. Private fiduciary Teresa Laggner was sentenced Monday. She pleaded guilty earlier this year to wire fraud and money laundering. Federal prosecutors say Laggner drained hundreds of thousands of dollars from client trust accounts. Laggner used the money to feed a gambling habit that ate up more than $1 million in losses over the past four years. Laggner was given the authority to open bank accounts for the trust assets under her management. She was overseeing $20 million in assets last year.

Police say son killed parents in Ramot double murder

Maoz is accused of murdering his two parents on August 14, possibly in connection to hundreds of thousands of shekels of gambling debts. He was arrested at his apartment in Tel Aviv on September 11, nearly a month after the murders. Siblings Nir and Tamar Maoz sat stoically in the courtroom and refused to look at their brother save a few glances. Police notified the family on Tuesday that they were going to indict Daniel in the murder. Police said the family was “in shock” but decided not to defend Daniel against the accusations. The bodies of Nurit and Noah Maoz were discovered on August 14 by their other son, Nir, who went to the couple’s home after both had failed to show up for work. Nurit Maoz worked at the Justice Ministry and Noah worked at a dentists’ office in Malha.

Banker who stole from customers sentenced to six years

The former assistant manager of a Coos Bay bank was sentenced Wednesday to nearly six years in federal prison for stealing more than $625,000 from 10 customers — most of them ill, disabled or elderly. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken also ordered 38-year-old Shawna Saia to pay $626,553 in restitution to her former employer, Wells Fargo Bank, which has paid that sum to Saia’s victims. Court records show that Saia became a personal banker for the victims, then used their actual identities to create ATM cards which she used to steal money from their accounts. She also befriended and socialized with her scammed customers.

Defense attorney Mark Weintraub told Aiken that Saia’s behavior was driven in part by a gambling addiction. As part of Saia’s sentence, Aiken ordered her to write a letter to Gov. John Kitzhaber, the head of the state Lottery Commission and Oregon’s congressional delegation, explaining when and why she started gambling, how it got out of control, how much she lost, who she hurt and what she thinks she needs for treatment. Aiken said she orders such letters to remind state leaders that “if we’re going to have the availability of gambling, there needs to be a reciprocal fund that takes care of people who are addicted to gambling.”

Gambling addict’s suicide a ‘wake-up call’: husband

B.C. casinos need to do more to help addicted gamblers, says a man whose wife killed herself after running up more than a $100,000 in debt at a downtown Vancouver casino. Yoo Choi was a second-generation Korean-Canadian from Camrose, Alta., who made her mark in Vancouver as the fun-loving owner of the once-popular Velvet Café on Broadway. But according to her husband Mark Dawson, Choi had a secret and compulsive gambling habit which she battled for years to kick. After eventually racking up $150,000 in debt, playing much of the time at Vancouver’s Edgewater Casino, Choi registered herself in the casino’s voluntary exclusion program. She got counselling as she struggled with her addiction, and her husband thought she was in the clear. Then on the night of June 16, she called him to apologize because she had started to gamble again, and then she disappeared. Twenty-six days later her body was found floating in Lynn Canyon on Vancouver’s North Shore. Dawson says he wishes he knew then that problem gamblers are twice as likely to commit suicide as other addicts. “If I had known, I might have been able to talk her home. It wasn’t on my radar at all,” he said. “I might have been able to say, ‘let me hear you start the car, stay on the phone with me while you drive home.'”

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