A Brief Look at Crime 02/27 – 03/04

Former Fla. coach due in court in Vegas death case

A former Florida high school football coach is  due in a Las Vegas court on a reduced involuntary manslaughter charge in  a one-punch slaying of a Utah man after they exchanged words in a Las  Vegas Strip casino. Benjamin Gerard Hawkins of Gainesville, Fla., claims self-defense  in the slaying of 46-year-old John Massie last July 6 at O’Shea’s Las  Vegas Casino. A Las Vegas judge will be asked Tuesday to decide if the  38-year-old Hawkins should stand trial in state court on a felony charge  that could get him probation or up to four years in prison. He was initially charged with murder after admitting he punched Massie, who was from Roy, Utah. Authorities say Massie’s head hit the floor and he died of a head injury.   

3 members of gambling gang held for killing rival

Three members of a local gambling gang were arrested for allegedly gunning down a small-time gambler in northwest Delhi’s Rohini earlier last week, police said on Sunday. Ajay, Vikas, both 24, and Raju, 34, belonged to a gambling group run by one Rinku in west Delhi’s Swaroop Nagar. The three were arrested for killing one Sonu, 28, over a rivalry with members of another gambling ring, BS Jaiswal, DCP (outer) said. “The accused trio had planned to kill Satpal, the leader of the rival gang, but ended up killing Sonu after he tried to alert Satpal. They were arrested on February 25,” Jaiswal added.

 Winery CEO blames tax evasion on gambling

A southern Ontario winery CEO said a gambling addiction drove him to commit tax-evasion, which resulted in him being fined more than $120,000. The Canada Revenue Agency said that Pillitteri Estates Winery executive Charles Pillitteri pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion. The agency said he didn’t report $439,102 in taxes in 2004, representing cash “misappropriated from the company and used for his own personal benefit.” The federal income tax on that came to $122,031, the amount of the fine. The agency said it’s since been fully repaid. Reached in Japan Friday night, Pillitteri said the incident stemmed from a gambling addiction he had at the time. “I had some major gambling issues,” he said adding he’s since been to counselling for the problem and hasn’t gambled in four years.

Court documents outline alleged embezzlement from Yurok Tribe; former Yurok Tribe forestry director still wanted on $1 million warrant

Court documents outline how three biologists allegedly used an elaborate system of fake invoices, false purchase requests and electronic bank transfers to embezzle more than $900,000 from the Yurok Tribe during a three-year period.  Officials with the Del Norte County District Attorney’s Office traveled to Eureka on Thursday to execute three $1 million arrest warrants for suspects Sean McAllister, Ron LeValley and Roland Raymond. The men are accused of burglary, embezzlement and conspiracy to commit a crime.  ”There were numerous syringes and suspected heroin found,” Alexander said, adding that the suspected substance has been sent to the state Department of Justice for testing. “Initial police reports indicate Raymond had a substance abuse and gambling problem.”

Carlton prison officer robbed his local bank to pay gambling debts

A PRISON officer has been given a suspended prison sentence after robbing his local bank. He originally owed around £3,000, but this rose to £14,000  due to high interest loans, the court was told.  Goodson hadn’t told his partner or family about his debt. After entering the bank, he handed a note to the cashier, which read: “Stay calm, I am armed, fill these bags with cash. No harm will come to you if you follow these instructions.” Jim Metcalf, prosecuting, said: “The cashier took the threat to be genuine and filled the bags with cash from her till.”

Former Spring Lake general manager gets six years for arson, theft

The former general manager of Spring Lake Country Club will serve six years in prison for stealing $130,000 from the club and setting a fire that caused about $100,000 in damages. Todd Marler was in court today along with a courtroom packed with members of Spring Lake Country Club. Marler entered his guilty plea in December, which had a cap of 7 years in prison. Marler had been stealing money from the country club on the northern edge of Quincy for years and then an investigation determined that he had set the fire in an attempt cover-up the theft. Marler addressed the court. “It was my responsibility,” Marler said. “These people trusted me. I gave into a gambling addiction.” Judge Mark Drummond pointed out that although Marler had mentioned the gambling addiction, he had yet to seek treatment for it and he had also yet to begin repaying any of the agreed-upon restitution, which would take about two decades under the deal.

 South Carolina lobbyist found dead inside parking garage likely committed suicide, coroner says

A well-known South Carolina restaurant industry lobbyist whose body was found Tuesday appears to have killed himself with a gunshot to the head, authorities said. The body of Tom Sponseller, who disappeared more than a week ago, was discovered Tuesday morning by investigators inside a double enclosed room in the lower level of a parking garage near his office in Columbia, according to police.  Sponseller was last seen by his colleagues at around noon at the office. His Mercedes sedan was found parked in the garage near his office and no signs of a struggle were evident. His cellphone and wallet were missing.  Federal authorities investigating Sponseller’s disappearance told the State newspaper last week that as much as $900,000 may be missing from the association. Law enforcement officials reportedly said that Sponseller’s accounting director, Rachel Duncan, 41, is a person of interest in the missing money investigation, which involves allegations of “gambling.” 

 Children locked in carpark an ‘ugly reality of gambling’

The case of five children found locked in a van Auckland’s SkyCity carpark is an “ugly reality of problem gambling”, the Green Party says. The children’s parents were later found using the casino’s electronic gambling machines. Their children have now been taken into Child Youth and Family care. The Greens said it will only get worse if the Government’s convention centre deal with the casino goes ahead. When officers arrived they were able to cut a hole in a plastic sheet which covered the rear window of the van and found five children inside, ranging in age from five months to eight years. “It was horrible, it was very frightening and the children were clearly very distressed,” the woman said. “Surely it’s against human nature to leave these children abandoned in a dark, boiling hot vehicle while you go and gamble in the casino,” the woman said. “It’s absolutely sick that these people can become regular users of a casino, that they can get a loyalty card that pays for their parking – where their children are being babysat by security cameras.”

 Corruption batters Korean sports

The country’s top baseball league has become the latest victim of a snowballing match-fixing scandal that came to light earlier last month. Kim Sung-hyun, a pitcher for the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization, has told prosecutors in Daegu that he accepted bribes from a broker to take part in spot-fixing in 2011. Prosecutors in Daegu took the 23-year-old into custody Tuesday after gathering a testimony from a broker named Kim, who was arrested last week. The LG Twins pitcher had initially denied the claim, but admitted later his involvement in spot-fixing after nearly eight hours of questioning, according to the prosecutors. Unlike match-fixing, spot-fixing does not necessarily involve any direct attempt to influence the results of games, especially in team sports such as baseball where playing to a draw or a fixed score require the cooperation of many players. According to the prosecutors, spot-fixing in the Korean baseball league has its roots in illegal betting, where bettors can bet on certain aspects of games, such as a base on balls in the first inning.

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

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