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

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