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.

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