A Brief Look at Crime 04/16 – 4/22

Texas Cockfight Murder: 3 Shot To Death At La Blanca Ranch, Sheriff Says

Masked gunmen opened fire during an illegal cockfight at a Texas ranch near the border with Mexico early Thursday, leaving three people dead and eight wounded, authorities said. People attending the cockfight ran into the brush when shots rang out shortly after midnight at the rural property near La Blanca, about 15 miles northeast of McAllen. Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said officers are hunting for the gunmen.  Detectives and crime scene technicians picked over the site. The ground was littered with beer cans and cups near the low corrugated metal pavilion with wooden bleachers where the cockfights took place. Cockfights showcase battles between birds that have been fitted with sharp metal blades or curved spikes on their legs. Spectators gamble on which bird will be victorious in the sometimes hour-long fights that end when one or both of the birds are dead or maimed. The last state to ban cockfighting was Louisiana, in 1998.

 Father mowed down and killed on Christmas Eve by gambling addict

A gambling addict who mowed down and killed a father-of-three while racing to a casino has been jailed for more than three years. Peter Chen’s car struck pedestrian Ray Tutton with such force that he was tossed through the air like a ‘bin bag’ and landed more than 30metres away. Chen, 40, had been doing up to 60mph in a 30mph zone and was rushing back to a casino, having had to return home to get more money during a night of gambling. Mr Tutton, 46, and his wife Liz, 47, were walking home from a night out at a pub in Poole, Dorset, when the collision happened in the early hours of Christmas Eve last year.

Man who bankrupted Seattle children’s charity faces prison

The former treasurer of a children’s charity who raided the fund to supplement his already ample earnings could face nearly three years in federal prison. Set to be sentenced Monday morning in U.S. District Court, Randall Morrison, 50, admitted to stealing $142,000 from the Ronald McDonald House Holiday Cruise fund. Morrison served as treasurer of the charity, which paid for holiday events for children and families receiving services through Ronald McDonald House; he was not affiliated with the larger charity, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska. Morrison’s thefts left the smaller holiday charity crippled and largely unable to continue its mission. “The heartlessness of his acts is indescribable,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Masada told the court. Morrison claims he was driven to steal due to gambling debts he’d accrued while struggling to cope with his wife’s health problems.

 Kan. woman pleads to $470K theft from employer

Prosecutors plan to seek prison time for a Topeka woman who pleaded no contest to stealing more than $470,000 from her former employer. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 53-year-old Diane Brandenburg is scheduled for sentencing July 6 in Shawnee County District Court. Her lawyer plans to ask for probation. Brandenburg pleaded no contest Monday to three felony counts stemming from her thefts from a North Topeka sheet metal company where she worked as the business manager. Several other counts were dropped, but both sides agreed that Brandenburg will pay $470,000 in restitution. Prosecutors said that from early 2008 to mid-April 2009, Brandenburg wrote hundreds of company checks to herself but entered them in a computer as payments to vendors. She used the money for gambling.

Former head of police sergeants group pleads guilty to looting $1 million

A former head of the Chicago police sergeants’ union pleaded guilty today to looting more than $1 million in union dues to pay for steak dinners, gambling trips to Las Vegas and a second residence in the city’s Sauganash neighborhood.  John Pallohusky, 56, pleaded guilty to one count of theft, a Class 1 felony punishable by anywhere from probation to 15 years in prison, according to Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.  Pallohusky entered his plea “blind,” meaning there is no agreement with prosecutors on his sentence, Simonton said.  Criminal Courts Judge Diane Cannon is scheduled to sentence him on June 1. Pallohusky, who was a 21-year veteran of the force at the time of his 2009 arrest, was accused of writing checks from the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association to himself and depositing them into his personal accounts. He was also accused of using association credit cards for personal use.

 Hospitality worker admits embezzlement

A former employee of the South Carolina Hospitality Association has admitted she embezzled nearly $500,000 from the group whose director killed himself earlier this year, according to federal court documents. Under a plea agreement with prosecutors signed last month, Rachel Duncan plans to plead guilty next week to federal charges of wire fraud and tax evasion. She faces up to 23 years in prison and $350,000 in fines when she is sentenced. According to prosecutors, the association’s former accounting director took more than $480,000 from the group from 2006 until February of this year, using much of the money for online gambling.

 Newark man charged with stealing $165K by copying checks from Harrah’s casino

Newark man has been indicted on charges he stole $165,000 from Harrah’s Resort and Casino in Atlantic City by making copies of checks and cashing them as well as the originals, the state Attorney General’s Office said today. Terry Dilligard II, 35, allegedly used a color copier or computer scanner to print duplicates of nine checks he received at the casino when he redeemed casino chips, the office said in a news release. The 10-count indictment, handed up Tuesday in Superior Court in Mercer County, charges Dilligard with theft by deception and forgery, the release said. If convicted of the most serious charges, Dilligard faces a maximum 10 years in state prison.

 VFW post’s ex-treasurer pleads not guilty to stealing $300,000 from group

The former treasurer of a Massachusetts Veterans of Foreign Wars post has been released on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty to stealing more than $300,000 from the organization. George Robertson was arraigned Wednesday in Middlesex Superior Court on charges of larceny and false use of the name of a benevolent organization. Prosecutors say the 65-year-old Robertson stole the money from Lynn Post 507 for his personal use, including gambling. Authorities say the Vietnam-era Navy veteran began to steal from the VFW in November 2010 after the group was forced to sell its headquarters because of financial trouble.

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