Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Brief Look at Crime 02/20 – 02/26

Seattle Gang Leader gets 25 Years for Illegal Gambling Murder

Fresh in the casino gambling news this week, is the story that a Seattle based gang leader has been sent to prison for twenty five years, following the killing of an alleged rival to an illegal drug and gambling operation. Mr. Quy Nguyen has been convicted of second degree murder with a firearm, the manufacture of marijuana, and conspiracy to commit organized crime, the Seattle Times reported. U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez, carried out the sentence on Nguyen at the start of the weekend, by declaring the suspect guilty of the crimes mentioned, and stating he will serve twenty five years. Nguyen had already pleaded guilty to the charge of second degree murder with a firearm and and conspiracy to commit organized crime, back in October last year.

 Ala. casino boss describes cash payment to rep.

A casino developer said Friday that he put $20,000 in cash in a small box and gave it to a legislator who sought money for supporting the businessman’s projects in southeastern Alabama. Ronnie Gilley, who has pleaded guilty to paying bribes, described his relationship with former Democratic Rep. Terry Spicer of Elba, who pleaded guilty in November to taking more than $100,000 in bribes from Gilley and his lobbyist, Jarrod Massey. The description came in the third day of Gilley’s testimony in the trial of casino owner Milton McGregor, Sen. Harri Anne Smith, former Sens. Larry Means and Jim Preuitt, casino lobbyist Tom Coker, and casino spokesman Jay Walker. They are accused of working with Gilley to buy and sell votes for pro-gambling legislation designed to reopen Gilley’s and McGregor’s casinos during a state crackdown on electronic bingo machines.

 MotorWorld employee charged with stealing nearly $131,000

An employee of MotorWorld in Plains Township was charged with  embezzling $130,866 from the company, which she said she took as a  result of a gambling addiction and credit card debt. Denise Zbierski, 35, of Cleveland Street in the Hudson section of  Plains Township, was arraigned this morning before Magisterial District  Judge Martin Kane in Wilkes-Barre on charges of theft by deception and  tampering with records or identification. According to the police criminal complaint, officers were dispatched  to Motorworld for a reported theft. They spoke to company controller  William Durkin, who said he discovered an employee embezzling from the  company during the 2011 audit. He discovered Zbierski, the payroll  administrator, was the fifth highest paid employee for 2011. Believing it was a clerical error, he brought it to her attention on  Jan. 18. She broke down in the office when confronted and admitted to  the theft, saying she took the money because of a gambling addiction and credit card debt.

 Police  Detain 171 People, Seize 370 Computerised Gambling Machines

A total of 171 people were detained by the police in several operations conducted in the Timur Laut district since early this year.  Timur Laut District Police chief ACP Gan Kong Meng said the suspects were arrested following raids in the George Town area during operations to eliminate illegal gambling, especially using computers. So far, police had carried 271 raids and seized more than 370 computers, worth more than RM740,000, in the district this year, he added.  “Those detained are mostly the caretakers and we are now working to identify the individuals responsible for operating these illegal gambling dens,” he told reporters here today.

Finance director stole £1.8m from chartered surveyor firm to feed gambling addiction

A financial director who plundered £1.8m from a top firm of chartered surveyors to feed his gambling addiction has been jailed for four years. Andrew Stubbs, 41, blew the fortune on football and horse racing after forging more than 2,200 cheques over an eight year period while working for Leslie Clark Construction Consultants. He faked the signature of the firm’s senior partner to cash up to three £1,000 cheques a day, Southwark Crown Court heard. The £45,000-a-year financial director almost singlehandedly bankrupted the company. The partners were forced to re-mortgage their homes, raid their savings and lay off staff to bail out the company after Stubbs was arrested in May 2011, the court was told.

 Four charged in Miami foreclosure scam

Four Miami residents have been arrested and charged with racketeering in an alleged fake foreclosure/short sale real estate scam that totaled $2.4 million dollars, according to Miami-Dade police and state attorney’s office. According to the arrest warrant, the defendants claimed to have connections within Miami-Dade County government that allowed them offer advance deals on foreclosed homes coming up for auction through the government’s website. The alleged scammers met their victims through cold-calling on the phone or in public places, such as a casino. Checks for deposits ranging from $1,000 to $195,000 were written to Miami Dade County, but the alleged scammers took the checks to check-cashing stores and claimed the buyers had simply put the wrong name on the checks.

 Top Chicago lawmaker indicted on federal tax charges

A prominent public official in Chicago was indicted on Thursday on federal tax charges for allegedly diverting campaign funds and other monies to pay for personal expenses while failing to report it as income. The four-count indictment alleges that Cook County Commissioner William Beavers paid himself more than $225,000 between 2006 and 2008 from campaign funds and a county expense account and used at least some of the money for personal purposes, including gambling. “If politicians choose to use their campaign funds for personal use then they, like all the citizens they serve, share the obligation to honestly report their income and pay the correct amount of taxes,” Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois said in a statement.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/13 – 02/19

Birds seized at suspected cockfighting site to be euthanized

Dozens of roosters were slated to be euthanized after they were seized from a suspected illegal cockfighting operation in Riverside County, officials said Monday. Deputies arrested 28 people on suspicion of being illegal animal fighting spectators. The home owner, Martin Ruezga, 47,  was arrested with his son Miguel Angel Ruezga, 25, and his brother Filiberto Ruezga, 62, on suspicion of animal cruelty and illegal gambling, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said. A number of suspected participants tried to flee as deputies and animal-service officers raided the operation Sunday morning in Jurupa  Valley, county officials said.

  Realtor Defrauded Banks, Stole from Friends

A high-rolling Sevier County realtor thought the odds were good he would pay back his unsuspecting victims before his crimes were discovered. He lost that bet. Now, Jacky Randall McCarter, a confessed gambling addict who once ruled as a “million-dollar producer” in the real estate market in Sevier County and enjoyed social prominence as well, is headed to federal prison for two years. “It wasn’t set out to be a scheme I honestly thought, somehow, someway, it would be repaid,” McCarter said Friday of the money he stole in what IRS Criminal Investigator Susanne Lee called a real estate version of a Ponzi scheme. “They were my friends, they really were, and I didn’t think in no certain terms this would happen.” U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips was unmoved. “He did this (thievery) not once but several times, obtaining fraudulent loans to pay off other fraudulent loans,” Phillips said. “The defendant also derived money from embezzling from two local youth sports organizations.”

 Ailing Matz gets 6 years supervision 

Loretta Matz, the former Lower Swatara Twp. treasurer and tax collector who embezzled more than $229,000 to feed her gambling habit, was sentenced to 12 months of house arrest and six years of  supervision outside of prison by a Dauphin County judge on Monday, Feb. 13. Matz was ordered by Judge Jeanine Turgeon to pay restitution and undergo counseling for her gambling addiction. She must stay out of casinos and off Internet gambling sites, Turgeon said. Dauphin County will place a judgment against her Shope Gardens house to guarantee that it collects some of the proceeds of any future sale of the property, said First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo.

 Center financial planner sentenced to prison in $2.5 million theft

A Center financial planner’s gambling addiction doesn’t justify his decade-long scheme to steal about $2.5 million from his clients, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. John D. Wosotowsky, 51, pleaded guilty in October to mail fraud and filing a false income tax return. U.S. District Judge Maurice Cohill sentenced him to 8 years and 1 month in prison and ordered him to pay $2.3 million in restitution. Wosotowsky, who worked for MetLife Securities, told 25 people, most of whom were elderly, that he was investing their money in safe, high-return investments when he actually used some of the money for gambling and some to pay other victims what he claimed were returns on their investments, prosecutors say.

 Witness Asked to Expose Her Breasts to Alabama Casino Lobbyist in Corruption Probe

A witness for a high profile Alabama political gambling corruption case wept after hearing a taped phone call of her casino owner client suggesting she expose her breasts to win a senator’s vote on gambling legislation. It’s all tied to allegations of “vote buying” as a means of getting pro-gambling legislation in the state to pass. Jennifer Pouncy testified Tuesday in the trial of former Sen. Jim Preuitt, two other present and former senators, as well as three other individuals associated with casinos. Pouncy lobbied for the electronic bingo casino Country Crossing. In an FBI wiretap, Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley suggests to Pouncy’s supervisor that she expose her breasts to Preuitt and allow him to touch her. Gilley says in the call: “Tell her I’ll give her a $50,000 bonus.” Pouncy pleaded guilty to conspiracy; Gilley pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy.

 Officer sentenced for stealing $131K

A former Miami-Dade police officer was sentenced to prison Thursday as part of a plea deal in a rip-off conspiracy.John Villar pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of strong-arm robbery and burglary of a vehicle in connection with the April 2010 incident on the Palmetto Expressway. The eight-year veteran of the Miami-Dade Police Department used his badge and police vehicle to stage a traffic stop on a man who was carrying $131,000 in cash from gambling winnings, then steal that bag of money, investigators said. Investigators believe a bookie and Villar’s cousin were in on the conspiracy. Villar was sentenced to eight years in prison and an additional three years on probation. He will not be allowed any future career in law enforcement.

 Credit union employee accused of stealing $120,000 from vault

An employee at a Longview credit union has been accused of stealing $120,000 out of the vault, apparently to fuel an expensive gambling habit. Roxane Justine Ramey, 55, who was in charge of the vault at Cowlitz Credit Union, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of money laundering and first-degree theft. Ramey stole the money between July 1, 2010, and last Dec. 2, and then falsified records to hide the fact that the cash was missing, Longview police said in a report. Ramey and her husband, Ervin (Ron) Ramey are believed to have gambled away much of the money at the Lucky Eagle Casino near Rochester. The Longview couple racked up nearly $112,000 in gambling losses at the casino between July 2010 and this month, according to the report.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/06 – 02/12

Trial begins for Shady Hills man accused of killing mother, stepfather, then hitting casino

His ex-girlfriend visited him in jail and asked what happened. It was mid February 2008 and she heard Jackie Braden was accused of killing his mother and stepfather, stealing $200,000 in cash and 40 pounds of marijuana from their safe and partying at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa before he was found. Braden, now 40, told the woman he deserved the death penalty for what he did, Halkitis told jurors. “It was harder than I thought it would be,” he said of shooting his mother and stepfather, according to the prosecutor. Braden is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. If convicted he faces life in prison.

Man arrested at Hard Rock, found driving murder victim’s car

A 32-year-old man, wanted for the murder of his girlfriend in Pottstown, Pa., was arrested at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino early Tuesday, according to Seminole Tribal Police. Edwin Carrero was spotted by Officer Alex Coronado at 2:10 a.m. on the third floor of the Winner’s Way parking garage. Corerro was acting suspiciously and “rummaging through the back of a gray Jetta,” police spokesman Gary Bitner said. Officer Coronado ran a record’s check and discovered the car and its Florida tag were both stolen. He also learned the Volkswagen Jetta was registered to murder victim Alicia Schmidt, Bitner said.

Sex trafficker sentenced to 30 years in prison

A 35-year-old man from Tamarac was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on Thursday for sex trafficking and producing child pornography, according to U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. The trial evidence showed that in December 2009, Curtis recruited a 15-year-old runaway to work for him as a prostitute, going on “dates” within days. He also took sexually explicit photographs of her to be used in prostitution ads on web sites such as Craigslist and, according to court documents. Curtis used the money to support a lifestyle that included nightly gambling at the Hard Rock Casino and driving around in a luxury vehicle.

Officer in WA accused of stealing from family fund

Lakewood police officer was charged with embezzling more than $120,000 from a fund for families of four colleagues who were shot to death while on duty then spending some of the money on trips to Las Vegas, the U.S. attorney’s office said Wednesday. Officer Skeeter Timothy Manos also is accused of making purchases of several thousand dollars at Costco and Home Depot with the money. “This is a sad day for our community,” U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in a statement. “These acts betrayed the memory of our fallen heroes, their families, fellow officers and all who supported the fund.”        

“Stealing from the children of our fallen officers is disgraceful,” added Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. The public contributed more than $3.2 million to the families of the four Lakewood officers who were shot to death by convict Maurice Clemmons at a coffee shop while they were beginning their shifts. Clemmons fled the scene, sparking a statewide manhunt that ended when a Seattle police officer shot and killed him two days later.

Woman gets prison for embezzling $250,000 from Concord Pet

A woman who embezzled more than $250,000 from Concord Pet Food and Supplies was sentenced to 60 days in prison and a year of home confinement last week. Sherry W. Hensley, 56, of Townsend, was also ordered by Superior Court Judge Richard R. Cooch to repay her employer and undergo gambling-addiction counseling and have no contact with any gaming establishment or websites.  Prosecutors had asked for a six-month sentence of incarceration. Prosecutors said Hensley’s theft was apparently motivated by gambling problems.

 American Judge Facing Jail for Illegal Gambling

Law enforcement officials in the State of Arizona match their Texan counterparts in suppression of unregulated gambling. No one, caught gambling outside of the law, is spared under Arizona law. Not even judges. A former judge of the state precinct court was been arrested and convinced for running an illegal casino. The three felony counts include conspiracy, promotion of gambling, and running and illegal enterprise. To fend off potential illegal casino operators, Mark Brnovich, Director of the Arizona Department of Gaming has stated: ”We’re sending a message in the strongest terms possible.”

 Casino scuffle involving NY senator probed

Police and Seneca Indian Nation officials continue to investigate a fight at a tribal casino that left a New York state senator with bruised ribs and his wife with a concussion. Sen. Mark Grisanti says he was trying to diffuse an argument between two men at the Seneca Niagara Casino Friday night when he was punched in the chest and head. His wife, Maria, says she was attacked by two women who slammed her head on the floor. Niagara Falls Police Capt. William Thomson says Monday that investigators are asking for statements from those involved. He says Grisanti hasn’t been in yet.

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

UPDATE: Florida Destination Gambling Bill Essentially Dies in the House

Casino Watch Focus reported that the Mega Resort Gambling bill had taken its first step in the Senate by being voted out of a committee.  It still needed to travel farther in the Senate, but it was assumed the bill would stall in the House.  The bill must pass through both sides of the legislature on its path to become law.  If the bill fails in one chamber, it wont pass during that years legislative session.  The Florida Independent is reporting  that the bill has been pulled by the author, Rep. Fresen, in the house:

State Rep. Erik Fresen’s request at a House subcommittee meeting in Tallahassee today to temporarily postpone his bill to allow Las Vegas-style casinos in South Florida essentially killed the bill for the 2012 legislative session.

After 90 minutes of debate, Fresen said, “To the extent that I have been around this process long enough” and “having the ability to read the tea leaves and recognize where this bill is headed in this committee … I would in a very friendly manner ask through chair Holder to temporarily postpone this bill as we continue to workshop it.”

State Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, responded, “Before we make that decision Rep. Fresen I want to be really clear this is the last time that this subcommittee will meet” during the 2012 session, adding,”in other words, there will be no opportunity to hear this bill before the 2013 session convenes.”

 Rep. Fresen pulled the bill.  One small possibility does exist to  bring the bill back up in the 2012 legislative session.  The Miami Herald explains the possibility:

After a lengthy debate, the House Business and Consumer Affairs and subcommittee stopped short of killing the bill to bring three so-called destination resorts to Florida but, by failing to take a final vote on the measure, left it on life support.

After working for weeks to muster the votes on the 15-member committee, Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, couldn’t get a majority. He asked the committee to postpone a vote, leaving it in indefinite limbo under House rules. The only opportunity to revive it is if the House takes up a similar Senate bill.

The Senate bill has stalled, as they were waiting to see how the House would react.  It seems very unlikely that they will waste the time to try to push their version of the bill through, now knowing that the house version couldn’t even make it out of a committee.

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

Florida Mega Casinos would lead to More Crime at a Cost of $3 Billion in Incarceration Costs Alone

Casino Watch Focus reported that the opposition for Florida’s mega-destination casinos had grown to include some very impressive and influential groups.  The group No –Casinos reported on the results of a study entitled “Casinos and Florida: Crime and Prison Costs.”  The Miami Herald explains that the reports points to a huge increase in crime, which will cost Florida $3 billion:

Allowing resort casinos in Miami-Dade County would lead to a spike in crime — from rapes to burglaries — an anti-gaming group charged on Wednesday.

The No Casinos advocacy group, whose membership includes heavy-hitters such as former state Senator Dan Gelber and billionaire auto magnate Norman Braman, based its dire predictions on a new study it commissioned, titled “Casinos and Florida: Crime and Prison Costs.”

Add up all those new crimes, and the study estimates the state will have to spend an additional $3 billion in incarceration costs (housing prisoners and building new prisons) in a 10-year period after resort casinos open in Miami-Dade.

The study analyzed the 2006 National study of casino-crime connection published by Harvard and MIT in the Review of Economics and Statistics.  A former attorney for the Florida Legislature and a former state economist concluded that there would be an 8 -12 percent increase in crime as a result of the new casinos.  Even if some of the unique characteristics of Florida that critics of the study point to are factored in, namely that there are a lot of tourist who will also frequent the casinos, its not hard to see how even half the projected crime increase could cause over a billion dollar loss to Florida.  The Miami Herald goes on to explain that the crime rates could be even higher when you calculate the impact of problem gamblers:

Perhaps the strongest connection between gambling and lawbreaking is one that’s somewhat overlooked in the No Casinos study — the high frequency of criminal activity among those who are compulsive or problem gamblers. When people have more gambling options close to home, the prevalence of problem gambling increases, as evidenced by the rising number of callers to the state’s toll-free gambling addiction helpline.

Calls to the helpline have increased 57 percent in the last four years — just as gambling has expanded at Florida’s Indian casinos and racetracks. More than one-third of helpline callers these days admit to some form of criminal activity to help finance their habit.

“That’s the one-third that are admitting it,” said Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling Deputy Director Jennifer Campbell, who suspects the true percentage is even higher.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/30 – 02/05

Six Crime Family Suspects Arrested

Federal investigators during an early-morning sweep Friday arrested five alleged members of a prominent crime organization, including the purported acting boss, and charged them with racketeering, extortion and drug dealing. Vincent Badalamenti, who is said to go by the moniker “Vinny TV,” was the highest-ranking person arrested, according to court papers unsealed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. Authorities described the 53-year-old as the acting boss of the Bonanno crime family. Three others were said to be captains in the organization and a fifth was named a soldier, officials said. All five face charges of racketeering, extortion, illegal gambling and conspiring to distribute marijuana, officials said. A sixth man, described as an associate of the Gambino crime family, was also arrested in Friday’s sweep and charged with loan-sharking, according to federal prosecutors.

Defendant in Alabama Gambling Trial Found Dead

The gambling industry was abuzz with news today that the defendant in a controversial Alabama gambling case was found dead in his home on Sunday. Joseph “Ray” Crosby was set to stand trial in a reopened case beginning on Monday, and police are not disclosing any information about the cause of his death just yet.

Crosby served as an attorney and an analyst with Alabama Legislative Reference Service and was accused, along with ten other defendants, of being involved in a scheme where casino owners in the state allegedly bribed legislators to give their backing to gambling reforms. During the first trial, Crosby went through a difficult divorce, and he often had his adult children in court with him to offer support. In the months following his indictment, Crosby resigned from his job at the Legislative Reference Service.

Wis. woman gets 5 yrs for theft from blood center

A Neenah woman convicted of embezzling about $500,000 from the Community Blood Center in Grand Chute has been sentenced to five years in prison. Tina M. Jacobsen was also ordered Monday to pay restitution of about $3,500 per month for 13 years. The 50-year-old was convicted of three counts of felony theft from the blood center, which supplies blood to 18 hospitals in Wisconsin and Michigan.  Judge Mark McGinnis told Jacobsen she was “ripping off the community.” Before sentencing, Jacobsen said she used the money to feed a gambling addiction.

 Calgary woman who chopped up roommate seeks unescorted passes from jail

Calgary woman convicted of chopping her roommate to death with an axe and concealing dismembered body parts in boxes is going before the National Parole Board on Wednesday. Deborah Point was sentenced to life with no chance for parole for 20 years after being convicted of second-degree murder for the 1999 slaying of friend Audrey Trudeau. During Point’s Court of Queen’s Bench jury trial, it was said Trudeau discovered Point had drained $5,000 worth of cheques from her bank account. It ended with 15 crushing blows to Trudeau’s head the night of Feb. 25, 1999. The body parts were packed in boxes sealed with duct taped and stored in a friend’s garage on 33rd Avenue S.W. They weren’t found for nearly five months. Point admitted stealing her friend’s money to feed an out-of-control VLT gambling addiction.

Woman sentenced for embezzling more than $60,000

A 49-year-old Manitowoc woman will spend three months in jail for embezzling more than $60,000 from Hobby Lobby while employed at the Manitowoc store. Manitowoc County Circuit Court Judge Jerome Fox withheld the sentence for Tracy C. Begley on Thursday and placed her on five years of probation. Conditions of probation include spending three months in jail starting March 27. Begley also was ordered to pay $64,724 in restitution to Hobby Lobby, to write a letter of apology and to refrain from gambling.

Two women accused of stealing $1 million each from two archdioceses

Employees of the New York and Philadelphia archdioceses are accused of stealing $1 million each in church funds over the past decade. Collins was arraigned Jan. 30 on criminal charges of grand larceny and falsifying business records and ordered held on $750,000 bail. She faces a possible jail sentence of up to 25 years. Both archdioceses were said to be cooperating with the local investigations and reviewing their internal financial oversight procedures. “Sadly, there will always be individuals who seek to exploit and circumvent whatever system is established, but we will remain vigilant in our oversight,” Zwilling said. In the Philadelphia case, Guzzardi’s alleged embezzlement was uncovered when a fraud investigator for American Express reported to the archdiocese that the woman had been paying off gambling debts to the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, N.J., with archdiocesan funds.

Son’s gambling addiction lead to theft: court

A Far South Coast mother stole more than $1.1 million from her employers, using every cent of the  funds to feed her son’s crippling gambling addiction, Wollongong District Court heard yesterday. Diane Felkin spent nearly seven years defrauding a Batemans Bay car dealership, transferring funds into her own accounts before handing it over to her son, who spent it at casinos and online gaming sites. The 61-year-old made more than 100 unauthorised transactions while working at Batemans Bay Motors, covering the missing money with references to non-existent vehicle pay-outs, staff holiday pay and bonuses, loans and purported transfers to the Australian Taxation Office, the court was told yesterday.

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

UPDATE: Florida Destination Gambling Bill Takes First Step, Has a Long Path Ahead

Casino Watch Focus reported that the Florida Gambling Bill had faced enough obstacles and opposition, that the bill’s author, Senator Bogdanoff, made an incredible amount of revisions and gambling expansions, in an attempt to bring as many people on board as possible. As originally expected, the Florida Senate was the likely starting ground for the bill to take hold.  The Sunshine State news is reporting that he bill has passed the first step, a small Senate committee, but it still has a long way to go:

A proposal to create a statewide gaming commission and allow voters to approve up to three mega casinos cleared its first hurdle Monday in the Florida Senate.  However, the odds appear to have grown longer against the success of the bill. The Senate Regulated Industries Committee voted 7-3 on Monday in support of the Destination Gaming bill.

In voting against the bill, SB 710, Sen. Charles Dean, R-Inverness, said the bill reaches “too far” and “too fast” in expanding gaming in Florida.  Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, added that the bill doesn’t fit with the image many have of Florida.

“This doesn’t fit into our scheme of what we want to be and what we want to represent as a family friend destination,” Altman said.

The Sunshine State news goes on to explain that the next step is for the bill to go before the Rules Committee and that might take extra political pressure.  The silence of the House on the issue will also play a major role:

Sen. John Thrasher, R-Jacksonville, called the bill too vague for an unelected gaming commission to interpret and would create an expansion of gaming across the state.

Thrasher’s objection, which wasn’t unexpected, places a potential barrier for the bill reaching the Senate floor.

He added after the meeting that he currently has no plan — unless Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, asks — to put the bill before his Rules Committee.

The bill must go before the Rules Committee if it clears its next stop before the Senate Budget Committee.

“We haven’t had the first indication from the House if they have any interest in this bill yet,” Thrasher said.  “So I have a feeling this bill will slow down dramatically until we see some movement, if any, from the House.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/22 – 01/29

Sick Children Ripped Off By Gambling Loser

There seems to be no stop for people addicted to gambling. Financial executives, priests, and charity directors are among those caught stealing money from entrusted sources. According to casino gambling news, the latest crook caught is a charity man. Sean T., 53, a charity director from Kansas City, was responsible for running a non-profit organization that supported children and other sick people suffering from epilepsy. While pursuing a losing casino strategy, it is alleged that the man lost well over $70,000. Once caught, the man quickly disappeared from the non-profit charity, leaving the epilepsy ridden children with decimated coffers.

Illegal gambling operation probe stretches from Goodyear to Phoenix and into California

From an indoor golf facility to a Phoenix card room, city, state and federal investigators say they have busted an illegal gambling operation that brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. The most recent move made by Goodyear detectives took them to Carlsbad, Calif. where they searched the home of a former Valley resident. According to detectives, it all started about four months ago when a resident complained to the Goodyear City Council about late night, illegal card games. The information led investigators to the Bunker Indoor Golf & Training Facility, according to city officials. “They (indoor golf facility) had a whole other business going on there and then we found out they had a night-life going on there where this illegal gambling was going on,” said Goodyear Lt. Jason DeHaan. “This is something where there were a lot of tentacles and a tremendous amount of investigating to track all of this information down,” said DeHaan.  “I think it may be the first major illegal gambling investigation many in this department have been involved with.”

Woman pleads guilty to embezzling almost $300,000 from Metairie real estate company and owner

A Baton Rouge woman pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to stealing almost $300,000 from a Metairie real estate company and its owner. Susan Fonte, 57, appeared before U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office said. Fonte served as a bookkeeper for the Metairie company between 2005 and 2010, when the thefts were uncovered, according to court records. She maintained the business’ financial records and paid small bills. But in 2010, the owner discovered that Fonte had been stealing money from a personal checking account that he shared with his mother, court records said. He hired a forensic accountant who confirmed the embezzlement. Fonte admitted to the theft when interviewed by special agents. She said she took the money to feed her gambling habit, court records said.

Former booster club treasurer faces theft charge

Trial information was filed Monday, Jan. 23, in the case of a former bank employee who has been charged with stealing nearly $30,000 from the Clarinda Booster Club. Cynthia Ann Gerdts of Clarinda will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Monday, Feb. 6, in Page County District Court on one count of first-degree theft, a Class C felony. She made her initial appearance on the charge Wednesday, Dec. 28, before magistrate judge James J. Nye.  According to court documents, between April of 2008 and October of 2011, Gerdts is alleged to have stolen $29,721.56 from the booster club. At the time, she was employed by Page County Federal Savings Association while also serving as treasurer of the club. According to a statement by investigating officer Jesse Hitt of the Clarinda Police Department, Gerdts admitted to taking money from the booster club’s account for personal reasons. Court documents, including a statement by booster club president Lee “Pete” Stansbury, indicate the money was taken to cover debts incurred due to a gam-bling addiction.

Gambling Machine Maker To Pay $375K Fine

A gambling machine supplier has agreed to pay $375,000 to Missouri for not telling regulatory officials about actions taken against it in Alabama related to electronic bingo games. The settlement between International Game Technology and the Missouri Gaming Commission was released Thursday by the agency. It says the Las Vegas-based company violated Missouri regulations by not promptly informing the agency of several actions related to a crackdown on electronic bingo games in Alabama.  The settlement cites the company’s receipt of a federal subpoena in June 2008, a letter it received from Alabama’s governor in January 2009, the seizure of a bingo machine from a gambling center in June 2010 and an attempted raid at another gambling site.

Thieving priest deserves to be treated like any other criminal

The thieving, gambling monsignor who stole $650,000, mostly from his church’s votive candle fund, has his supporters who want him to receive probation Friday. [T]he U.S. Department of Probation recommends he spend 33 months in prison, which is the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. The high end would be 41 months. U.S. District Judge James Mahan won’t be bound by the probation recommendation when he sentences Monsignor Kevin McAuliffe at 10 a.m. Friday. He can show leniency. Or not. McAuliffe’s attorney, Margaret Stanish, has an uphill battle when she argues his gambling addiction and his mental disorders and depression are reason to give him clemency. She’s arguing for probation, so he can stay an active priest and help other gambling addicts. Why should an addicted priest get a pass from prison when other gambling addicts don’t? That’s unfair. Nevada federal judges haven’t been forgiving with others who steal because they want to gamble with money that’s not theirs, partly because sentencing guidelines say gambling addiction is no reason for a judge to reduce a sentence.

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