A Brief Look at Crime 11/14 – 11/20

Former Alabama rep. to be 4th gambling guilty plea

Former state Rep. Terry Spicer of Elba is due in federal court on Tuesday to become the fourth person to plead guilty in Alabama’s gambling corruption investigation. Spicer was charged after two of the three people who have pleaded guilty in the case, casino developer Ronnie Gilley and casino lobbyist Jarrod Massey, testified in federal court about paying money to the ex-lawmaker when he was in the Legislature. Federal prosecutors charged Spicer through an information rather than indictment, which is the usual way a plea agreement is handled. Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said Monday the agency would comment after the hearing. Spicer and his attorney did not return phone calls seeking comment Monday.

Gambling addicted nun spent $1 million on slot machines

A Catholic nun Sister Marie Thornton, 65, addicted to gambling, stole more than $1 million from a Catholic college where she worked to spend on slot machines in Atlantic City casinos.  Daily Mail reports that Sister Marie Thornton stole money from Iona College, New Rochelle, New York, over a period of ten years to maintain her gambling addiction.  According to prosecutor Preet Bharara, Sister Thornton, “covered up the thousands she would lose by systematically submitting false vendor invoices for reimbursement to Iona College and submitting credit-card bills for personal expenses to be paid by Iona College.” The court was told that Sister Thornton, popularly known as Sister Susie, sometimes lost up to $5,000 after a day of gambling. New York Post reports than on an occasion she lost up to $10,000.

Bayonne man pleads guilty to federal charges of embezzling $560,000 from labor union he worked for

The attorney for a Bayonne man who yesterday admitted embezzling more than $560,000 from the labor union he worked for said the crime stemmed from his client’s gambling problem. James J. Kearney Jr., 44, the former secretary treasurer of a New Jersey ironworkers’ union, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton to one count of embezzlement, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. “Mr. Kearney self-reported his misappropriation to union officials back in September 2010, at which time he also resigned from his position as financial secretary,” Andrew J. Weinstein, Kearney’s Manhattan-based attorney, said yesterday. “Since that time he (Kearney) has been working successfully on getting his life back together and dealing with and getting treatment for his addiction,” Weinstein added.

Gambling addict who stole more than $1 million receives shock probation

A judge on Wednesday granted shock probation to a man who had been convicted of stealing more than $1 million from the Louisville car dealership where he was a manager and then gambling a large portion of that money at Horeshoe Casino. Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Fred Cowan ruled that Woods’ case was “somewhat unusual” in that he had no criminal record and clearly was a gambling addict. “It is an incredibly serious addiction that devastates lives,” said Cowan, who allowed Woods to be released only under several conditions. He ordered Woods to spend 120 days on home incarceration, go to Gambler’s Anonymous meetings at least four days a week, speak to others about the dangers of gambling addiction and consult with a counselor who had worked with Churchill Downs treating addiction.

 Kearny woman convicted in immigration fraud scheme sentenced to 7 years in prison

A Kearny woman fraudulently took hundreds of thousands of dollars from immigrants to expedite their paperwork so they could get authorization to work in the U.S. and a green card, federal officials said. Rosa Blake, 56, instead spent the money on a BMW, fur coats and designer clothes, while gambling the rest at Atlantic City casinos, the officials said. If her victims complained, they added, she would threaten to have them deported. Blake, a Portuguese national with a green card, now faces deportation herself. U.S. District Judge William H. Walls today sentenced her to more than seven years in prison and three years of supervised release in the scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He also ordered her to pay nearly $774,000 in restitution. After she serves her sentence, deportation proceedings are expected to begin.

 Boise attorney disbarred for misconduct including fraud, theft

The Idaho Supreme Court has disbarred a Boise attorney who acknowledged taking more than $355,000 in fees from seven clients and refusing to provide an accounting or refund when they hired another attorney.  The disbarment complaint said Bergesen had the woman sign an agreement to pay him $200,000 for lifetime representation. The woman’s bank stepped in after she had paid him just over $152,000, and she had sought to liquidate her retirement and annuity accounts to pay him another $100,000. The woman hired another attorney and Bergeson refused to refund the $152,000. Bergesen’s attorney, Layne Davis, has said his client is a pathological gambler who suffers from bipolar disorder.

 Tulalip Tribes member sentenced in embezzlement case

A 46-year-old Tulalip Tribes member has been sentenced to a year’s confinement, including six months in prison, and ordered to pay back nearly $400,000 she embezzled while working at a tribal liquor store and smoke shop.  Angela Jones Ver Hoeven was a clerk at the store. Federal charges filed in April alleged that she stole cash while working the till, often pocketing a few hundred dollars a day. A review of smoke-shop records showed that she was routinely failing to register multi-carton sales of cigarettes, ringing up a single-carton sale and then pocketing the rest. She stole a total of $396,043 over 32 months, according to the charges. An investigation showed that Ver Hoeven had significant gambling losses at the Quil Ceda Creek Casino during the year before the thefts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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

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