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

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