A Brief Look at Crime 03/36 – 4/1

Police arrest suspect in killing of 5 in San Francisco home

Police say they have a suspect in custody in the brutal murders of five people found dead in a San Francisco home Friday, KTVU reports. 35-year-old San Francisco resident Binh Thai Luc was arrested and charged with five counts of murder, Police Chief Greg Suhr announced in a press conference Sunday. The five victims, who have not yet been identified by police, were found in various places in the home in what police described as a “very bloody” crime scene that was one of the worst they have ever seen. Suhr said Luc has a criminal record and is believed to have known the victims, though he declined to reveal other details of Luc’s arrest. He said they are also looking into Luc’s possible gang ties, but the murders are not believed to be gang related. Police had previously stated the murders may have been money or gambling related, though they had first suspected murder-suicide.

 Wife convicted of murdering journalist in Vietnam

A court in Vietnam has sentenced a woman to life in prison for killing her journalist husband by setting him on fire as he slept. A court official said Tran Thi Thuy Lieu was convicted of murder in a one-day trial Thursday in southern Long An province. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media. Newspaper reporter Le Hoang Hung died last January. Suspicion initially fell on people Hung may have targeted in his aggressive investigative reporting. State media reported after the arrest that Lieu had lost money from gambling and her husband refused to sell their house.

 $500,000 stolen from elderly to feed gambling addiction

A prosecutor said he has a box packed with evidence that goes a long way toward incriminating a theft defendant. The documentary evidence, rather than testimony from purported victims, is expected to be the major component in the case against Jennifer Dennison, 43, who was arrested a year ago based on allegations that she stole more than $500,000 from her retired in-laws and lost it all gambling. Dennison’s father-in-law succumbed to cancer last year, and her mother-in-law suffers from advanced dementia. The defense was granted a continuance so Dennison’s attorney could review all of the documents that, according to reports, expose the defendant’s penchant for taking her family’s money and using it to satisfy her gambling addiction. Hernando County sheriff’s detectives said Dennison — during a 21/2-year span that ended in December 2010 — gambled more than $14 million on slot machines at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa.

 Playing slots while your kids wait in the car is not a winning bet  

The allure of the spinning wheel was apparently too much for one Kansas City, Kansas, mother to resist. KCTV Channel 5 reports that Katrina Denise Roades, 31, is accused of leaving her three children — ages 9, 8 and 6 months — in the car while she played slots for about an hour and a half in the Argosy Casino March 3.  A casino security guard allegedly found one of Roades’ children wandering the parking lot. The child then took the casino employee to the car where the other children were found. Roades was then tracked down in the casino (or returned to the car of her own volition, according to other reports).

Roades is believed to have signed up for the “Disassociated Persons List” kept by the Missouri Gaming Commission that consists of “persons who have voluntarily declared that they desire to self-exclude from ALL licensed casinos in the State of Missouri because they are problem gamblers. Entering one’s name on the list has some very real consequences. If you’re discovered in a casino, you’re supposed to be ejected immediately and charged with criminal trespassing. And the chips, tokens or electronic credits you’ve won are forfeited back to the casino. Those penalties are designed to help change the behavior of compulsive gamblers.

 Mom was gambling, left 4-year-old son home alone when house fire broke out

MINNEAPOLIS— Hennepin County authorities say a Minneapolis mother was at a casino when a fire broke out in her home where her 4-year-old son was staying alone. A Minneapolis Star Tribune report says 44-year-old Yeng Moua was charged this week with child endangerment. Prosecutors say Moua left home at midnight in January, leaving four kids ages 4 through 11 at home. The three oldest went to school the next day. Later that day a neighbor heard fire alarms blaring from the home. He knocked on the door and found the boy, sooty and crying. He took the boy home, cleaned him up and called 911. Moua told investigators the boy has a tendency to start fires. She acknowledged she knew he’d be alone when the other kids went to school.

Woman gets 20 years in prison for stealing from Hospice of Missoula

A tearful Sandra Lea Morrison told a judge Tuesday the gambling habit that led her to embezzle more than $171,000 from Hospice of Missoula has cost her “my job, my marriage, my dignity and my family.” Now it’s cost Morrison her freedom. Missoula County District Court Judge Karen Townsend sentenced Morrison, 43, to 20 years in the Montana Women’s Prison, with all but 2 1/2 years suspended. “It takes into account the significant amount of money stolen,” Townsend said in pronouncing sentence. “A certain amount of punishment is appropriate” because of that amount, and because of how long Morrison stole money from her employer. Townsend also ordered Morrison to repay the $171,579 she embezzled from Hospice of Missoula during the four years she worked there as a bookkeeper and office manager.

SportingBet Settles $33 Million Fine With US Justice Department

UK online gaming firm SportingBet had operated in the US between 1998 and 2006, but then pulled out of its online betting market after president George Bush introduced the UIGEA. In September 2010 the company then admitted attempting to disguise payment to US players and subsequently agreed to pay the DoJ an amount equivalent to that earned from SportingBet’s US customers over the eight year period, which was set at $33 million.

Formal colonel sentenced for stealing from vets

Ret. Col. James Burnes stood before a judge taking responsibility for his crimes, saying that he’s ashamed of his actions and the reasons behind it. “About nine years ago I became a compulsive gambler this disease consumed me each day more and more until all I thought about was gambling,” Burnes said. Burnes admitted to taking more than $2 million over the course of four years while he was a resource manager with the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs.  “What makes the defendant’s actions appalling is the fact that the money embezzled from the Arizona Emergency relief fund were for the benefit of Arizona National Guard soldiers and airmen needing financial assistance,” said Capt. Valentine Castillo, from the Arizona National Guard. The theft drained the program to the point it had to shut down for six months. His co-workers and colleagues asked the judge to hand down the harshest jail sentence possible. His family asked for leniency for a man they say was consumed by an addiction he is now getting help for.

Accomplice get 12 years for role in quadruple killing at Paterson gambling club

A man involved in a 2005 quadruple homicide at an after-hours Paterson gambling club has been sentenced to 12 years in state prison. But 35-year-old Hamid Shabazz of Passaic won’t start serving the term imposed Wednesday until he completes the remaining 12 years an 18-year sentence he’s now serving for an unrelated armed robbery and drug offense. Shabazz admitted entering the club with a ski mask on and with a gun, but said he didn’t expect his co-defendant, David Baylor, to start shooting. The four club patrons were all shot in the head at point-blank range. Baylor was sentenced in 2008 to four consecutive life terms, without the possibility of parole.

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

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