A Brief Look at Crime 10/31 – 11/06

Tropicana Casino and Resort may face fine for underage gambling by 14-year-old boy

The slot machine player at Tropicana Casino and Resort had a “youthful appearance,” but a casino security guard walked right past him and apparently did nothing. The gambler turned out to be only 14 years old. Now, Tropicana is at risk of being fined by New Jersey gaming regulators for an underage gambling violation.  Lisa Spengler, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, said Monday that the case is under investigation, but no formal action has been taken yet against Tropicana. “The complaints are still pending. They’re still trying to work out an agreement,” Spengler said of negotiations between the state and Tropicana.

 Professional Poker Player Who Killed Parents Profiled in Dateline NBC

Dateline NBC produced a segment on professional poker player Ernie Scherer III who was sentenced for the double homicide of his parents, Ernest Scherer Jr., 60, and Charlene Abendroth, 57, in their Castlewood Country Club, California home.  The showed aired this past Friday. The couple was found brutally beaten and stabbed to death in their Pleasanton home in March 2008.   Scherer III had attempted to make the crime scene appear as if it were a home invasion. Prior to sentencing, the accused killer issued a rambling statement insisting that he loved his parents.  The judge did not appear swayed by the statement.

 Woman accused of selling her baby behind bars 

Delaware woman charged with trying to sell her baby to a Philadelphia man for $15,000 is behind bars after violating the terms of her pretrial release. Court records indicate that 33-year-old Bridget Wismer of Newark was taken into custody last week and is being held under $25,000 cash-only bond at Baylor women’s prison in New Castle.  Authorities said Wismer failed to abide by those conditions and was wearing a disguise when she was found at Delaware Park racetrack and casino.

Man put ‘kidnapped’ woman in grave: court

A Melbourne man who allegedly kidnapped a woman he met online and tried to extort money from her family told police his victim was a willing participant in the plot, a court has been told. Darren Wayne Saltmarsh, 35, said he would torture the Nepalese student before killing her, if her overseas family did not pay him $20,000, police allege. Throughout the alleged 65-hour kidnap ordeal the terrified woman was not given any food and was frequently vomiting, the Melbourne Magistrates Court heard. Saltmarsh, who faces charges including kidnapping, false imprisonment and making a threat to kill, was refused bail on Monday. Saltmarsh was a gambling addict and bankrupt, the court heard.

 Accused Embezzler Out On Bond

Christina Michelle Bratcher is accused of embezzling $460,000 from a welding company. Police released a photo of the 43-year-old on Monday. Investigators say Bratcher worked as the book keeper for Colorado Welding Supply on Garner St. The owners of the business found out about the embezzlement when they had to file for bankruptcy. “I trusted her,” former co-owner of the business Eric Younger said. “I knew her father from before I opened that business.” Detectives with the Financial Crimes Unit reviewed the business records and Bratcher’s records and found she issued large checks from the business account to her own account.  Younger says it’s devastating since he built the business from the ground up: “to trust someone and have them just absolutely devastate your life.” Court documents show that she was using some of the money for online gambling.

School employee pleads guilty to theft of $600,000

A bookkeeper who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Hillsborough County technical center pleaded guilty today to grand theft and official misconduct – concealing or destroying records. Dianne Parker, 57, was sentenced to two years of a restrictive form of probation, to be followed by 20 additional years of probation, state attorney’s spokesman Mark Cox said. Parker also has to pay $300,000 in restitution and attend gambling counseling, Cox said. In 2009, the Hillsborough County school district said Parker took nearly $600,000 from a training program where she worked for 30 years. The district said Parker made deposits for Erwin Technical Center in amounts less than she received and then pocketed the difference.

Ex-chamber official charged in theft

The former vice president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce and treasurer for the Boomtown Days Festival of the Four States was charged Friday with stealing thousands of dollars from the festival over a period of three years to cover a gambling problem.  Kimberly K. Lester, 53, 5848 Eland Road, told an investigator she tried to keep track of all she stole “but was not a good record keeper.” She handled several hundred thousand dollars for the Boomtown Days event. At least $39,542 can be shown to have been stolen based on bank records, but Lester withdrew more than $108,502 and put more than $64,000 back into the accounts, according to a probable-cause statement filed in the Associate Division of Jasper County Circuit Court at Joplin. Lester admitted to stealing money from the Boomtown Days account to fund a gambling addiction,” the document states. “Lester stated she attempted to keep track of all the money she stole, but was not a good record keeper.”

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