A Brief Look at Crime 04/09 – 4/15

Suspect arrested after mutilated body found inside Mississippi casino, authorities say

Mississippi authorities responded early Thursday morning to the Hollywood Casino in Tunica and found an irate white male and mutilated body of a white female inside a hotel room, authorities said. Security at the casino called the Tunica County Sheriff’s Office at 5:52 a.m. reporting screams from a hotel room and when police arrived they were met by a combative man, Bettye Hale, the executive assistant to the sheriff, told FoxNews.com. The suspect, from Collierville, Tenn., was promptly tasered and rushed to nearby Baptist DeSoto Hospital, Hale said. Authorities have not released the names of the victim or the suspect because the families have yet to be informed of the incident. Hale said the couple may have had a history of domestic violence.

 Lawyer in hot water over paralegal’s theft

A Hamilton, Ont., lawyer who worked with former paralegal Shellee Spinks is facing sanction after a Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel found him guilty of professional misconduct stemming from Spinks’ theft of $893,000 from his trust account. Michael Puskas, according to facts admitted at a hearing on March 30, provided Spinks with pass code information connected to his Teraview account, administrative access, and unsupervised use of an old trust account used for mortgage transactions at his Hamilton law firm between 2002 and 2008. Spinks then used Puskas’ pass code and letterhead and forged his signature to transfer money from the old trust account to her personal bank account to feed an extensive gambling habit without the lawyer’s knowledge.

 Georgia police arrest 18 in illegal gambling raids

Law officers seized more than $100,000 in cash and assets and arrested 18 during illegal gambling raids in Clayton County, Ga. Local authorities said Wednesday that a six-week investigation was launched after they received numerous complaints from businesses concerned about suspicious traffic around eight stores. An undercover officer said calls also were received from relatives saying that loved ones spent money on gambling machines, which are illegal in Georgia. The businesses being investigated had back rooms with gambling machines that would produce vouchers that players could redeem for cash and other items, officials claimed Wednesday.

 Accountant Steals Money to Fund Online Gambling Habit

A British accountant, responsible for keeping the books for a south English town council, has been exposed stealing well over 300,000 GBP ($500,000) from the taxpayers as the latest casino gambling news report. The man has carried out 17 fraudulent transactions to fund his voracious online blackjack playing. The gambler started small, first by stealing in the neighborhood of 2,000 GBP. Soon after his losing black jack strategies led to bigger fraud. At one time, the bookkeeper withdrew as much as 55,000 GBP ($85,000) in a single transaction.

 17 charged in gambling raid on Gunbarrel Road, one man shot

Several well-known Chattanoogans were cited with illegal gambling Thursday night and one man was shot after a raid on Gunbarrel Road, police say. Four suspects were arrested on gambling and drug-related charges, while 13 others were given citations for illegal gambling and released, said Chattanooga police spokesman Officer Nathan Hartwig. The raid took place about 10 p.m. Thursday at ATC Healthcare at 1618 Gunbarrel Road, he said. When the officers entered the building, 32 year-old Clifford Billups ran out the back door and pointed a handgun at the officers, Hartwig said. One of the officers shot Billups, who was taken to Erlanger hospital for a minor injury, he said. Officers conducted a search of the building and vehicles and found gambling paraphernalia, marijuana and pills, Hartwig said. About $26,000 also was seized, he said.

Fraudster must pay $750,000 in compo

A South Coast mother who ripped off more than $1.1 million from her employer has been ordered to pay compensation to her victims. Diane Felkin was sentenced last month to a minimum 2 years’ jail for the fraud, which she claimed was committed to feed her son’s crippling gambling addiction. Yesterday, Judge Paul Conlon formally directed the 61-year-old pay $750,000 compensation to her former employers – the maximum amount available under the court’s jurisdiction. Making the order, Judge Conlon noted Felkin still owed the one-time owners of Batemans Bay Motors around $915,000, despite already repaying them $200,000.

 Employee’s gambling to blame for missing money and suicide

A handwritten letter penned by a prominent hospitality executive before he killed himself blames his organization’s former accountant for transferring the group’s money through her personal checking account to offshore accounts to pay for online gambling. The letter is the last known communication from Sponseller, who was found dead Feb. 28 in a storage room off the underground parking garage of the Lady Street office building where he worked. He had been reported missing 10 days earlier by his family. A handwriting analysis conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division confirmed Sponseller wrote the letter, said Richland County Coroner Gary Watts, who investigated the cause of death.

The letter sheds more light onto a secret federal investigation tied to the association’s missing money, the woman accused of taking it and her relationship with her boss. It is Sponseller’s version of the story, and it accuses Duncan of abusing his trust to spend association money on online casino games that gambling experts say are illegal, addictive and impossible to win. The S.C. Hospitality Association, a trade group that represents the state’s hotels and restaurants, has reported that an audit of its financial records found $480,000 missing between 2009 and 2012. Sponseller was the group’s executive director and lobbyist.

The letter, which was not addressed to anyone, never states any intention of committing suicide, but it makes it clear that Sponseller regarded Duncan’s revelations as a crushing disappointment. “After working so hard to build the association over the past 21½ years, I am ashamed that I let this happen on my watch,” Sponseller wrote.

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

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