Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Brief Look at Crime 05/21 – 5/27

Gambler gets death for murdering children

A gambling addict received the death penalty Thursday for murdering two kids in Beijing last year. The Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court also stripped Wen Quan, 43, of his political rights for life and ordered him to hand over 1.4 million yuan (221,293 U.S. dollars) in compensation to the victims’ families. The court found that Wen kidnapped a five-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl from his community in Xicheng district on May 21, 2011. He suffocated them to death on separate occasions and dumped their bodies.

The jobless Wen confessed that he was angry after loosing 2 million yuan of his life-savings through gambling online. He was envious of his neighbors as he considered their lives better than his, and decided to murder the two children next door before killing his own son and committing suicide. He said that on the day of the murder he gambled online again but lost another 300,000 yuan. He killed the two children as he planned, but did not have the heart to kill his own son, he said.

Bail set at $200,000 for former bookkeeper in embezzlement case

A judge on Friday reduced bail to $200,000 for a former bookkeeper of a Vancouver building trade magazine accused of embezzling more than $500,000 from the business. Long, former bookkeeper of BuilderNews Magazine, pleaded not guilty at a Wednesday hearing to 10 counts of first-degree identity theft and one count of second-degree theft. Prosecutors allege that Long stole money from the magazine’s publisher over a course of five years. Vancouver police launched a 10-month investigation in July 2011 after publisher Denise Curry-Rothwell alerted them to the alleged thefts. The substantial monetary loss forced the magazine, in business for 15 years to close in December,  Curry-Rothwell has said. “She put nine people out of work last December,” Bryant said. Bryant said there are allegations Long stole from a previous employer. The defendant has a gambling problem, Bryant said, adding that she believes the woman is a risk to the community should she be released on bail.

Judge Allows Freeze on $28 Million Linked To Alleged Gambling Scheme

A federal judge granted prosecutors’ request last week to continue a freeze on $28 million in Miami-based assets belonging to three companies allegedly linked to an illegal gambling operation in the Dutch Caribbean. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly froze the funds in August at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice. Prosecutors said that the $28 million in UBS investment accounts in Miami belonged to three offshore companies controlled by Robertico Alejandro dos Santos, who is the subject of a three-year investigation by Curacao authorities into allegations of money laundering, tax fraud and forgery.

But the freeze became complicated when the Curaçao Court of First Instance ruled in April that the funds could not “be restrained.” Lawyers for the three companies—Ponsford Overseas Ltd., Carribean Investment Group Ltd., and Tula Finance Ltd — asked Kollar-Kotelly to lift the restraining order on the funds that month. On Thursday, Kollar-Kotelly said because the Curcao court had also recently issued a new order authorizing a freeze on the three UBS accounts on different grounds, she would grant the Justice Department’s request to restrain the funds.

 Police say duo botches Las Vegas casino heist

A hapless bandit lost his wig, sunglasses and $115,000 worth of casino chips when security wrestled him to the floor during a botched weekend heist at a posh Vegas Strip resort, authorities said Monday. Two men attempted to rob the Bellagio on Saturday night by spraying a blackjack dealer and others with a caustic eye-burning chemical, police said. With the distraction in the air, Michael Q. Belton snatched up nearly two dozen high-value chips and took off for the door, according to a police report. The man who sprayed the noxious gas escaped, but Belton was tackled to the floor and held until police arrived. Belton struggled at first, according to the police arrest report, but then suddenly stopped fighting back against casino employees and surrendered.

 Donvale woman spared jail over gambling-fuelled thefts

A DONVALE woman who stole $137,717 from her employer to fund her gambling addiction has avoided jail on condition she repay the entire amount. Rebecca Cave, 37, was convicted of theft in Melbourne Magistrates Court last week. She was given a six-month suspended sentence on a good behaviour bond and ordered to repay the money within five years. Cave is also required to continue attending Gamblers Anonymous, continue counselling and obey her psychologist’s instructions regarding treatment or medication. Prosecutor Julian Ayres said Cave was employed by food hygiene company Sanikleen as an office manager and was the only employee authorised to make payments to creditors.

 Huyton teenager admits slashing throat of Sri Lankan shopkeeper

A MURDER trial was shown shocking CCTV footage of a shopkeeper being stabbed in the throat by a Merseyside teenager. Gambling addict Sam Harrison, 18, killed Mahesh Wickramasingha by slashing his jugular vein with a fishing knife in what he claimed was a robbery gone wrong. Jurors heard he then fled on his mountain bike, leaving Mr Wickramasingha, 30, to bleed to death at Stanley News, in Kingsway, Huyton, where he worked.

The colour images, taken at three frames per second, showed the victim stacking shelves with his back to the door at 9pm on November 29 last year. Harrison was seen to walk in with the knife in his right hand and plunge it into the shopkeeper’s throat after a brief struggle. Blood then splashed onto the floor before Mr Wickramasingha collapsed and Harrison fled without any cash. He told jurors that Harrison, who lived with his mum in Salerno Drive just yards from the shop, was a gambling addict who regularly went to the Betfred shop next door to Stanley News. Despite being a student at nearby Knowsley Community College with no income, he was caught on camera spending £240 on fixed-odds betting machines in just 15 minutes.

 3 area men among 13 facing racketeering charges in connection with organized crime

Three men from Monmouth and Ocean counties were among 13 charged Tuesday with racketeering conspiracy in connection with an illegal online gambling operation headed by organized crime, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. According to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday morning in federal court, the three local men — John Breheney, 47, and Salvatore Turchio, 44, both of Little Egg Harbor, and Michael O’Donnell, 48, of Wall — were among 12 members of the Lascala Crew, which was operating in connection with the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra. That crime family worked through smaller groups sometimes referred to as crews that operated in northern New Jersey and elsewhere, according to the complaint. The racketeering conspiracy charges against the 13 carry a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The defendants made their initial appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark S. Falk.

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

UPDATE: Florida Supreme Court Affirms Gambling Expansion without a vote of the people by Refusing to Hear Key Case

Casino Watch Focus originally reported that an appellate court upheld a ruling that would allow the Florida legislature to expand gambling in the state without a vote of the people. Given the case involved the constitutionality of legislation to expand gambling, it was assumed that an appeal to the Supreme Court would be filed.  The appeal moved forward, but the Florida Supreme Court has elected not to hear the case.  A local Florida News channel explains:

The Florida Supreme Court effectively ruled Friday that slot machines can be allowed anywhere in the state. The high court let stand a lower court ruling that not only ends a battle over whether slots can be added to a South Florida race track, but could rekindle a push to add slot machines in other parts of the state.

The court issued a one-page ruling saying it was dismissing the case but did not discuss the reasons why. “It’s no real surprise that they decided to do this,” said Marc Dunbar, a Tallahassee attorney who represented one of the groups involved in the case. “It affirms that the Legislature controls the decision to expand or contract gaming in the state.”

 This decision comes after the Florida Legislature rejected attempts to legalize mega-resort casinos.  The group No Casinos spoke out against the ruling: 

John Sowinski, president of No Casinos, criticized the Friday ruling, saying that the future of gambling should not be left to politicians.

“Florida voters have overwhelmingly rejected casino gambling in three separate statewide votes,” he said in a statement. “Perhaps it is time for a constitutional amendment to ensure that voters will continue to have the final say on whether they want more crime, more addiction, and higher social costs for taxpayers.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 05/14 – 4/20

Ex-property manager pleads guilty to theft

The former property manager of an Aventura condo association pleads guilty after being accused of stealing nearly $500,000 from the association. Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Friday that Lourdes Rodriguez, 49, was sentenced to state prison after her plea Thursday.  Prosecutors said Rodriguez was the manager at the Atlantic II at the Point Condominium, and she opened credit cards in its name and made personal charges, including what appeared to be withdrawals for gambling. After negotiating a plea with the court, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to first-degree grand theft. She was sentenced to 21 months in state prison and must pay restitution in the amount of the unauthorized transactions.

 Daniel Maoz takes witness stand, denies murder

Daniel Maoz, the 28-year-old lawyer suspected of murdering his parents in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot last August, took the witness stand for the first time on Monday in the Jerusalem District Court and continued to proclaim that his twin brother Nir is responsible for the murders. Daniel Maoz was arrested a month after the murders and has spent the last six months in prison. State prosecutors have built a strong case against Daniel Maoz, including the fact that Maoz had a gambling addiction and was hundreds of thousands of shekels in debt, an addiction Maoz confirmed on Monday. Additionally, Daniel Maoz showed up at a friends’ apartment to gamble the night of the murders disheveled, nervous, and in blood-spattered clothes.

 Eastlake man gets 18 years for his role in collapse of the St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union

Koljo Nikolovski squandered $5.8 million on fast cars and gambling, and caused the ruin of the $238 million St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union in Eastlake, prosecutors said Friday.  But Nikolovski thought he should only spend about three years in prison for his crimes of bank fraud, bribery and money-laundering.  U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko thought differently, and on Friday sentenced the Eastlake resident to 18 years in a federal prison.  Boyko painted Nikolovski, 49, as a thug, a hustler and a bully who never held a job his entire life, but intimidated at least nine others into helping him obtain millions of dollars in fraudulent loans from the credit union. He paid the unsuspecting borrowers $5,000 each for their help.

 Longview woman sentenced for credit union embezzlement

A former Longview credit union employee was sentenced to 90 days in jail Tuesday for embezzling $120,000 out of the union’s vault to fund her gambling habit. Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning said he wished he could have given Roxane Justine Ramey, 55, of Longview more jail time, but his “hands were tied” by sentencing guidelines set by the Legislature.  Ramey, who was in charge of the vault at Cowlitz Credit Union in Longview, admitted earlier this month to stealing $120,000 between July 1, 2010, and Dec. 2, 2011. Police said she and her husband, Ervin (Ron) Ramey appear to have gambled away most of the money, racking up nearly $112,000 in losses at the Lucky Eagle Casino near Rochester.  Credit union officials discovered the money was missing in early December and hired an accountant to conduct a forensic audit, which confirmed that $120,000 was missing.

 Treasurer of Hudson ironworkers local gets 30 months for embezzling $560,000

The former secretary treasurer of Jersey City-based Local 45 of the International Association Of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers was sentenced today to 30 months in federal prison for embezzling more than $560,000 from the union to help feed a gambling addiction. From January 2009 through September 2010, Kearney admitted in court, he withdrew roughly $471,000 in cash directly from the local’s Bank of America general fund account.

Former Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty To Embezzling Almost $500K

A former Colorado Springs bookkeeper has pleaded guilty to felony theft and forgery. Christina Bratcher faces 12 years in prison for embezzling almost $500,000 from Colorado Welding Supply, a family-owned company.  Authorities say her crime helped drive the mother-and-son operated company out of business.  The owners learned of the embezzlement when they had to file for bankruptcy last year. “I trusted her,” former co-owner of the business Eric Younger told 11 News. “I knew her father from before I opened that business.”  The company says they thought their financial woes were due to the economy, and used their own savings when the company started hemorrhaging money.  They were left with serious debt; Younger became a truck driver to keep his family afloat. Court documents show that she was using some of the money for online gambling.

 Counselor who stole gets six-year sentence

The woman who earned their trust and then turned around and betrayed it is going to federal prison. Lori J. Macakanja, the former West Side housing counselor who stole from clients and then gambled away their money, was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison. Macakanja admitted stealing nearly $300,000 from 136 people who came to her looking for help. Many of them were on the verge of losing their homes to foreclosure. “I’m full of shame,” Macakanja, her voice cracking with emotion, said in court Thursday. “I’ll spend the rest of my life regretting my poor judgment and poor choices.” “She lied, she schemed, she cheated, and then she gambled away the money she stole,” Trini E. Ross, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, told Arcara.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 05/07 – 5/13

Arrests Made In Two Illegal Gambling Operations

A South Florida meat market was apparently selling much more than hamburgers and chops. It was involved in an illegal gambling operation, according to BSO. Two people were arrested Monday after the Broward County Money Laundering Task Force served multiple search warrants at the Santiago Meat Market, located at 5730 Hallandale Beach Boulevard in West Park, said BSO spokeswoman Dani Moschella. Another location was also shut down in Miramar, located at 2713 SW 64th Avenue. According to investigators, the illegal gambling operation ran just like a Las Vegas sports book. Customers would place their bets with a cashier who was behind bullet proof glass. The operation ran for more than a year but BSO began investigating six months ago following a tip. Investigators said on good days, the operation brought in about $25,000 a day.

Betting shop owner gunned down

A 45-year-old man was gunned down yesterday outside his Nicosia betting shop, which had been checked a couple of hours earlier by the police. Neophytos Christoforou died later while undergoing emergency surgery for gun shot wounds to the head and body. Two other people who were close to the victim sustained light injuries during the 2am incident at the betting shop near the Ayios Antonios municipal market, police said. Christoforou was shot by two individuals riding a large motorcycle, using an automatic weapon. The establishment had been checked by officers a couple of hours earlier as part of a police crackdown on illegal gambling. Daily Politis reported that the victim seemed to have differences with other individuals over online gambling. The police are trying to prevent a war between people involved in this activity since it appears that yesterday’s murder is connected to past crimes, Politis said.

 Baierl Acura embezzler who stole $10.2 million could face six years in prison

The former controller of Baierl Acura in Pine stole $10.2 million over more than six years and lived a life of luxury and extreme generosity while earning an official salary of about $53,000. Mr. Kaufman wrote that Ms. Smith’s crime, termed wire fraud, only ended after another Baierl employee sent her an email asking questions about transactions that showed that she was about to be caught. He noted that Ms. Smith transferred money from Baierl to her own accounts more than 800 times from 2004 through 2011, calling it “among the most egregious white collar crimes prosecuted in the Western District of Pennsylvania in recent memory.” She and a family member also gambled away much of the money, he wrote. The government expects to be able to recover around $1 million for Baierl, he wrote. Federal guidelines for someone with no prior criminal record who admits to committing a $10 million fraud call for 63 to 78 months in prison, according to Mr. Kaufman’s memorandum.

 Michigan mother gambles $650k of company money away

A woman from Westland said a gambling addiction led her to spend $10,000 a night at slot machines, using money she stole from her bosses business account.  Lauri Caruso, 39, used to work at International Door in Canton as an accounts bookkeeper. She has a five-year-old daughter and by all accounts looks like any other suburban mom.  However, what started as casual gambling led to her becoming a regular in high roller rooms, betting and losing up to $10,000 a day.  Caruso’s game of choice was the one-armed bandit, otherwise known as the slot machine where she gambled, and lost more than $650,000—hundreds of thousands of dollars that was someone else’s money.  Caruso would use company credit cards to embezzle the money from her company. As a bookkeeper and mail room operator, she was able to conceal the theft from her bosses until the amounts were staggering. After an audit, Caruso was fired.

 Contractor gets 8 years in fraud case

A Cranston contractor has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison after taking millions from investors in an elaborate fraud scheme. Mario Perretta, owner of M&M Ironworks in Providence, pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and tax evasion. Prosecutors say he bilked nearly $4.3 million from 23 investors. Perretta confessed he had promised inventors high rates of return on investments in projects that did not exist. Among the projects he claimed his company was involved in included the construction of a YMCA on Martha’s Vineyard, and a construction job at Foxwoods. Perretta admitted he had an attorney draft promissory notes for investors which falsely promised a high rate of return on their money; around 12-14%. Instead he spent most of the money to feed a gambling habit and on other personal expenses.

 Former Whaling Commission Head Pleads Guilty to Theft, Money Laundering, and Misapplication of Funds

The former Executive Director of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, who was charged with embezzling $475,000 from the organization, pled guilty to two counts of theft, a count of misapplication of funds, as well as a count of money laundering in Federal court yesterday. The former Executive Director of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, who was charged with embezzling $475,000 from the organization, pled guilty to two counts of theft, a count of misapplication of funds, as well as a count of money laundering in Federal court yesterday.

Man jumps to death after killing wife in front of daughter in Xiamen

A man jumped to his death after killing his wife in Xiamen on 7th May, reports Xiamen Daily. On the early morning of 7th May, the man jumped off an eighteen-story building in Guankou town of Jimei District after killing his wife in the presence of their 12-year-old daughter. The man hailing from Jiangxi, who was out of work some time ago, stabbed his wife to death after a fierce quarrel, according to an insider. Some neighbors said that the man killed his wife for her gambling addiction.

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

In a questionable political move, Missouri Rep. Scott Largent attempts to allow loans at casinos

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times that even though casino gambling is legal in Missouri, the legislature has taken many steps to safeguard its citizens from the dangers of gambling.  The Legislature successfully prevented all legislative attempts at removing a unique safeguard, the $500 loss limit, which essentially caped the amount of money that was able to be gambled and lost at one time.  The loss limit and other safeguards existed until the casino industry waged an expensive ballot initiative that removed it.  One past legislator, who was known for accepting large amount of money from the casino industry and in turn, proposing countless bills to remove these safeguards, was Rep. Shannon Cooper. His replacement, Rep. Scott Largent, appears to have picked up where Rep. Cooper left off.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that Rep. Largent has managed to get an amendment into a bill that would allow loans at casinos.  This move appears to be politically unfavorable to his colleagues and it creates serious pitfalls for problem gamblers:

House Financial Institutions Committee added the change onto a banking bill Wednesday with no debate. Committee members endorsed it by a 13-1 vote, sending the measure to the full House after the Rules Committee approves it.

Gamblers who pass a credit check would be able to borrow money and exchange it for electronic tokens and chips for wagering.

Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat, said lawmakers should try to help protect problem gamblers from themselves. Nasheed voted for the bill but now says she would have voted “no” if she had known what the amendment did.

“I made a mistake,” Nasheed said. “I don’t think gamblers should take out loans. You have gamblers who are addicted. It hurts their family. They lose their property. The divorce rate is high.”

Passage in the House would send the bill to the Senate, which has been less inclined to pass gambling bills. In fact, the sponsor of the underlying bill, Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, wasn’t unhappy to learn of the credit amendment.

Casino Gambling was originally passed in 1992 with multiple safeguards in place.  The original plan was to simply allow a short, two-hour riverboat cruise on the Missouri or Mississippi river, which would allow for select and controlled gambling.  Now, virtually every aspect of what Missouri citizens originally voted for has been stripped clean, leaving full-blown casino gambling, on land, with no loss limits.  This bill would remove one of the last safeguards and expose Missouri families to serious gambling problems.  The Post Dispatch continues:

The credit ban was also part of the original law. Under the bill, customers would have to qualify for a line of credit of at least $5,000. Bill proponents say that would weed out those with gambling addictions and others who couldn’t afford to go into debt to gamble. But critics say casinos entice people to wager more than they can afford.  “Any time you make it easier for people who have gambling problems to increase their debt, then you make the problem worse for them,” said Keith Spare of the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling Concerns.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 04/30 – 5/06

Man accused of killing roommate with roofing stapler

After dramatic testimony, a Miami County judge found probable cause that Donald R. Pepper beat James R. Wolf to death with a roofing stapler April 13 at their West Milton home. Police testified during a preliminary hearing Thursday that they found bloodied clothes and the roof stapler in an attic in the residence at 1177 Debron Road. They also found a life insurance policy on Wolf — naming Pepper as beneficiary — under Pepper’s mattress. A West Milton police officer said that Pepper confessed to the crime, hoped to get the death penalty and that Pepper said things “got out of control” because of his gambling habit. The officer testified Pepper said things got “out of control” and that he had a “gambling habit.” The officer also testified that Pepper said he used a roofing stapler to hit Wolf while wearing gloves because it would be “messy.”

Pigeon racing a multimillion, illegal enterprise

Pigeon racing, long considered a harmless hobby, fosters $15 million a year in illegal gambling nationwide and kills thousands of birds, an animal rights group charged after a 15-month investigation. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will on Monday present to 17 law enforcement agencies — including the FBI and NYPD — hundreds of pages of evidence of what its lawyers say are illegalities in pigeon racing. The group, which has detailed video and audio recordings from its undercover probe, asserts that only 40% of pigeons that are raced survive the ordeal. PETA probed pigeon racing in multiple states and attended races in Oklahoma and Phoenix that were organized by the American Racing Pigeon Union, a national umbrella group that declined comment for this story. “There was just constant gambling going on,” an investigator said, asking — like all PETA’s probers did — to remain anonymous because undercover work continues. “It’s pretty flagrant.”

Poker defendant pleads guilty

One of two men nearing trial in a case that shut down U.S. operations for three Internet poker companies has pleaded guilty to charges in U.S. District Court. Chad Elie pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bank fraud and operating an illegal gambling business on Monday. He faces between six months to a year in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 3. The plea came as the money processor was scheduled to go to trial on April 9, along with former bank executive John Campos.  On Tuesday, Campos reached a deal to plead to a single misdemeanor charge, Forbes magazine reported on its website, citing three sources familiar with the situation. Both men had had asserted their innocence.  Elie and Campos were the only men headed to trial after others among eleven people charged in the Internet gambling case reached plea agreements or remained fugitives. Prosecutors have sought $3 billion in money laundering penalties and forfeiture after targeting three companies based overseas: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. Full Tilt defended its executives.

68 arrested in cockfighting operation

Sixty-eight people were arrested and $20,000 was seized over the weekend when members of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Rural Crimes Task Force broke up a cockfighting operation in Hesperia, officials said Monday. Daniel Urena of La Puente was identified as the event coordinator and owner of the property located in the 14000 block of Summit Valley Road. Investigators also seized a total of 63 fighting roosters from the property. Five of them were being held Monday at the Devore Animal Shelter, according to David Wert, spokesman for San Bernardino County. “Fourteen of the birds were deceased when we arrived at the property,” said Greg Becks, program manager with county Animal Care and Control. “The rest were euthanized. These birds are not able to be rehabilitated.” Authorities also recovered $20,000 in gambling money.

 Man jailed over decade-old fraud

A compulsive gambler has been sentenced for stealing more than $290,000 from WorkCover Queensland more than 10 years ago. Martin Bruce Stoddard, 40, pleaded guilty in the District Court in Brisbane on Thursday to dishonestly inducing Workcover Queensland to deliver money to a co-offender. Stoddard was working as a case manager for the government compensation body between April 2001 and January 2002 when the offence occurred. The court was told he arranged for the co-offender to be paid out for claims. His co-offender kept around $15,000 for himself as payment for funnelling the stolen money back to Stoddard. The court heard that the pair fleeced $294,189 from WorkCover through their scheme. Stoddard received at least $180,000.

Italian Mafia Bosses Indicted Over Illegal Gambling

In a recent indictment, two New York metro mafia bosses have been indicted under numerous charges related to illegal gambling and sports betting, racketeering, violence, collection of unlawful and usurious gambling debts, extortion, and other felonies. Capo di tutti capi (the boss of the bosses), as the Italian mobsters like to call their godfather, is not happy as his two henchmen face trial. As many know, those who dare to speak up against the mafia face punishment. In fact, one additional charge includes witness tampering. Many victims are unlikely to speak up during the trial, worried about having their legs cemented to a bathtub and being thrown off George Washington Bridge into Hudson River. After talking to a Brooklyn gangster, many witnesses lose memory. Some of the desperados, as rumors claim, have gotten themselves into trouble with mafia after being drunk, drugged, and finding themselves at mafia casinos in expectations of getting some subsidized crack and hookers while playing  rigged blackjack where it is not possible to win.

Ex-employee charged in theft of $525,000

Once a trusted staff member, the former business manager for Gesu Parish was criminally charged in U.S. District in Toledo on Wednesday for allegedly stealing more than $525,000 from the parish. Patricia Ann Stanz, 61, of Toledo was charged with one count each of counterfeit securities and fraudulent use of access device. She was employed as the parish business manager from August, 2007, to August, 2011. According to court documents, Ms. Stanz is accused of creating and signing 97 checks totaling about $295,000 that she then cashed from the Gesu Parish checking account. It is further alleged that she fraudulently used a credit card issued to Gesu Parish to obtain $230,757 in cash advances and purchases. Ms. Stanz allegedly used the money for gambling as well as other unauthorized personal expenses, Mr. Collins said. Being the church’s business manager, she would then write checks on the parish account to pay the bills.

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

Florida Chamber of Commerce to Oppose Casino Gambling Ballot Initiative

Casino Watch Focus reported that those behind the push for mega-resort casinos in Florida faced defeat in the Florida Legislature.  As a result, they have proposed the idea of gathering signatures and placing the issue on the ballot in 2014.  Casino Watch Focus also reported that the anti-gambling group No Casinos, was prepared to fight the initiative.  Now, an online source is reporting that the Florida Chamber is set to oppose the initiative as well:

The Florida Chamber of Commerce continues to gear up for the expected 2014 fight against casinos in Florida at the ballot box.

Mark Wilson, Chamber president, told the Sarasota Republican Club last week that the statewide business advocacy organization will continue to mount opposition to expansion of gambling in Florida, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

“Where casinos have gone, they end up closing small businesses in that community,” Wilson was quoted by the Herald Tribune.

Florida Chamber Mark Wilson pointed out specific reasons why the Chamber was opposed to casinos and explained the tactics Florida voters can expect to see:

Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson says if anything spills over the economy, it’ll be crime, corruption and, most of all, competition that could devastate Florida’s beaches and theme parks.

“The casinos have so much money that they’re playing the Florida voter for a fool, and they think that they’re going to come in with millions of dollars of TV ads and they’re going to make all kinds of promises. Look, the Florida legislature didn’t fall for it this year, and I don’t think the voters will, either.”

In referendums over the past 35 years, voters have done exactly that…With North Floridians like Lawrence Kaiser overpowering the pro-casino vote in South Florida and parts of the I-4 corridor. Supporters of a resort casino amendment face a big challenge in simply putting the issue on the 2014 ballot. They need to collect more than 675,000 signatures from registered voters, and they have just 21 months to do that.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 04/23 – 4/29

Ex-Miami cop to plead guilty to stealing from group of fellow black officers

Vernell Reynolds, a Miami native who grew up in one of the city’s poorest areas, was so well regarded as a cop that her fellow black officers elected her as president of their advocacy group in 2005. But five years later, senior members of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association discovered lots of money missing from the group’s credit union accounts. They confronted Reynolds about thousands of dollars in “unauthorized” debit-card withdrawals, and she gave them “false” information to hide her alleged theft of the funds, according to federal court records. Reynolds had a serious gambling problem, stretching from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Broward County to another Indian gaming venue in California, a joint FBI-Miami police corruption probe found. Accused of embezzling more than $210,000 in fellow officers’ membership dues, Reynolds plans to admit “taking money from the [association’s] credit union accounts and using it for her own purposes,” according to the charges.

Cockfight shooting believed to be sloppy hit  

Frantic calls to emergency responders described a chaotic scene with people frightened, wounded and fleeing in all directions after masked gunmen opened fire on a Texas cockfight near the Mexico border.  Authorities believe the wild shooting that left three dead and eight wounded early Thursday was a sloppy hit on two brothers. Three people were charged with cockfighting and engaging in organized criminal activity Friday just before officials identified the victims, who all had criminal pasts. The brothers believed to be the target of the shooting were among those killed. The gunmen remained at large. The Leandros owned the small ranch. Heriberto Leandro built the corrugated metal pavilion that covered the bleachers and ring. He told investigators he had tried his hand at running the fights but didn’t make money at it so instead rented the facility to Blanco. All three were held on $1 million bonds, each charged with one count of cockfighting and one count of engaging in organized criminal activity. None spoke at the hearing or had an attorney present. 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 hourlong fights that end when one or both of the birds are dead or maimed. The last state to ban cockfighting was Louisiana, in 2008.

Gambling feud’s shootings, stabbing spur crackdown in southwest Yonkers

A gang feud over a gambling debt has led to three shootings and a stabbing since Wednesday, prompting enhanced policing in the city’s southwest. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and police officials announced their plan Saturday at the intersection of Elm and Oak streets in response to four days of violence that they said is related to a dispute over a dice game between gangs on Riverdale Avenue and Cottage Place Gardens, a public housing complex off Warburton Avenue. The police response will include enhanced patrols and more anti-narcotics and anti-gang officers on streets into the early morning hours. Deputy Police Chief William Cave said since Wednesday his department has made one arrest and recovered two handguns.

Murder Details Discussed At Carrero Preliminary Hearing

Edwin Carrero II used a rug and other objects to cover a trap door over the basement where he hid the dead body of Alicia Schmidt before he stole her car, money and went on a gambling spree, he allegedly told police during an interrogation in February. Those and other details were recounted by police who testified at Carrero’s preliminary hearing before District Court Judge Edward C. Kropp Sr. in Lower Pottsgrove Township on Monday. Members of Schmidt’s and Carrero’s families sat on opposite sides of the courtroom and were teary-eyed during the hearing, which included graphic description of Schmidt’s death. Police say Carrero killed Schmidt, then headed to Florida. On the way, he used Schmidt’s father’s bank debit card nearly 30 times, stayed in hotels and went to casinos to gamble and play poker, police said.

Habitual gambler found dead at casino hotel

A habitual gambler, who reportedly lost money during more than 100 visits to a local casino over the past year, was found dead of an apparent suicide at the casino compound, east of Seoul, police said Wednesday.  The 50-year-old man, identified only by his surname of Seo, was found by a maid in a hotel room at Kangwon Land on Tuesday, the police said, and was believed to have hanged himself using electric cords. Kangwon Land, in Jeongseon, Gangwon Province, 214 kilometers from Seoul, is the nation’s only casino open to both locals and foreigners. “It has been confirmed that Seo visited the casino 107 times over the past year,” a police officer said, adding that the deceased, a resident of Andong in North Gyeongsang Province, left a note that reads “(I) hate Kangwon Land.” The police suspect Seo took his own life because of stress over his gambling losses, and an investigation is underway to determine the exact cause of his death.

 N.J. can investigate whether defendants in Lucchese crime family case laundered money for legal costs

The state can investigate possible money laundering by more than 20 defendants to pay for legal services after they were indicted on allegations they participated in a $2.2 billion international gambling ring operated by the Lucchese crime family, a Superior Court judge has ruled. Judge Pedro Jimenez, sitting in Trenton, ruled Friday that the state Attorney General’s Office may issue subpoenas to obtain information about defendants’ payments to private attorneys and other transactions because it may provide evidence “relevant” to additional offenses such as money laundering, conspiracy and “other potential crimes.”

The evidence could be presented to a state grand jury in Trenton for a new round of indictments. “We believe they were making very large sums of money off illegal gambling enterprises, and the question is what they did with it,” Aseltine said.  “We are tracing the criminal proceeds to see if they are engaging in money laundering or some other crimes,” he added, pointing out that the attorney general is interested in other expenditures by the defendants, in addition to attorneys’ fees.

US Woman Jailed for Leaving Kids at Home to Play Bingo

Whilst we know that bingo is a fun game, it is there to be enjoyed in a responsible manner. Problem gambling has increased over recent years as online gambling has prevailed, but putting children at risk to go out and gamble brings a new meaning to the concept of irresponsible gambling. Claudia Leon-Vazquez, 29, was sentenced to six months in jailing on Tuesday after pleading guilty to leaving her four young children home alone while she went for a game of bingo. Police claimed the four children – aged, 2, 3, 6 and 7 – were left in an apartment on 21st March. The children were discovered by the Police during a welfare check and they were found alone, dirty and had bites and scratches on them. The 7-year-old girl told detectives that their mother was playing bingo.

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