A Brief Look at Crime 03/05 – 03/11

Mexico Ruling Party in Row Over Casino Fire

Last August, President Felipe Calderón, dressed in black, visited the charred remains of a casino where members of a drug cartel set a fire that killed 52 victims, including a pregnant woman. The president vowed that justice would be done. But six months after the fire, relatives of the victims and members of Mr. Calderón’s own National Action Party say his government has engaged in a coverup to try to hide links between casinos and corrupt politicians. This week, the mayor of Monterrey, whose brother was caught on video receiving wads of cash from a local casino, was placed on the party’s special shortlist of candidates for proportional representation to Mexico’s lower house in July’s presidential elections. The move virtually guarantees Fernando Larrazabal a congressional seat, and with it immunity from prosecution. Raúl Gracia, another politician closely linked to Mr. Larrazabal, is also on the party list for the senate.

 Colorado Casino Robber Jailed For 224 Years

An armed robber who stole $28,000 from a casino in Colorado and later shot at a police officer has now been sentenced to 224 years in prison. The incident took place at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, April, 2010, when the habitual criminal Randy Steven Keesee, 45, used a semi-automatic handgun to rob the Famous Bonanza Casino before making off in a black Audi getaway car. An hour and a half later, Keesee was then tracked down by a police officer to a parking garage at the Golden Gate Casino in Black Hawk. Despite being ordered to stop, Keesee pointed his gun at the officer, which subsequently misfired leading to the officer firing back several rounds and injuring Keesee. Sgt. Kenneth Lloyd was later cleared of any improper action in the shooting.

 Former Millington mayor Richard Hodges indicted on new bribery charges

Already facing two counts of bribery, former Millington Mayor Richard Hodges has been indicted on new bribery charges growing out of the same investigation into alleged gambling and political favors, authorities said Monday. Also named in the new charges is Millington business owner Marlin Roberts, who allegedly hosted ongoing card games and gambling at his business, Transmission Doctors. Roberts, 46, was indicted on two counts of bribery involving Hodges and also on two counts of unlawful drug possession. Hodges is charged with three counts of bribery of a public servant, charges that will replace the two bribery counts lodged against him last fall. He has pleaded not guilty in initial court appearances.

 Bodyguard stole $18.8m worth of diamonds from Sultan of Brunei’s ex-wife, UK court hears

THE Sultan of Brunei’s ex-wife has accused a female bodyguard of stealing £12 million ($18.8 million) worth of rare diamonds from her London home and replacing them with worthless replicas. Mariam Aziz, the former royal consort, claims that her former minder Fatimah Kumin Lim tricked her daughter into loaning her the jewels, which Lim then sold to pay gambling debts. Lim, who is not attending the hearing and says she is unrepresented due to lack of funding, is also accused of taking a £3.5 million diamond bracelet from her employer in 2008 and selling it.

Former Scranton elementary school principal sentenced for stealing money from principals’ fund

A former Scranton elementary school principal was sentenced in Lackawanna County Court for stealing  $87,000 from a principals’ fund to fuel a gambling addiction, according to court papers. Jeffrey McCreary of South Abington Twp. was sentenced Tuesday to 60 days in jail, coupled with a period of home confinement, his attorney Gerard Karam said Wednesday.  Mr. McCreary principal at Scranton School District’s McNichols Plaza Elementary until he resigned in 2010. Mr. McCreary, 49, pocketed money that belonged to the Scranton Association of Administrators and Supervisors – a special account for principals, administrators, and other supervisory personnel – through withdrawals from a credit union account from 2004 to 2010, according to Times-Tribune archives.

 Bank manager Colin John Carleton jailed nine years for $3m theft

A NORTH Queensland bank manager has been sentenced to nine years’ jail for stealing $3 million from his customers to feed his gambling and shopping addictions. Colin John Carleton, 56, had pleaded guilty to one charge of stealing as a servant. Carleton made headlines nationwide when he was reported missing in July 2010, and it was later revealed he had stolen from the Atherton Tableland branch of Bendigo Bank, which he managed for 19 years. The father of three was found camping out at Cape Tribulation on July 25, 2010, and confessed to police he had been stealing from customers’ bank accounts for 16 years. The court heard covered his tracks by transferring money between accounts, and intercepting bank statements before creating new ones to be sent out. Carleton used the money to feed his gambling addiction, and also compulsively purchased tools and meat.

 Woman admits embezzling $84,000 from medical center

A 48-year-old former accounts payable coordinator pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling $84,186 from Carson Valley Medical Center, and agreed to pay it back as part of a plea agreement. She admitted stealing the money between May 2010 and September 2011 when medical center officials caught on to what she was doing. She was arrested Oct. 3 and accused of writing 49 checks in the name of her husband and depositing them in the bank. Jennings-Evans said she gambled an average  of $2,000 a week playing penny slots at the Topaz Lodge. She said her husband didn’t know about the thefts, but expressed concern about her gambling. She told investigators she would spend an average of nine hours a week at the penny slots betting the maximum of $4 a pull.

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

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