Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Brief Look at Crime 7/16 -7/22

Minnesota woman pleads guilty to embezzling $1 million from employer

A Brooklyn Park, Minn., woman has pleaded guilty to cooking up a scheme to embezzle more than $1 million from her employer to feed a gambling habit.  Cynthia Carol Jacobsen admitted to a single count of mail fraud in a plea hearing before a federal judge in St. Paul on Thursday.  No sentencing date has been set, but U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank told the woman that under federal sentencing guidelines, she could face a maximum of four years and three months in prison.  She’ll also be expected to pay almost $1.05 million restitution to Land O’Lakes Inc., of Arden Hills, where she spent nearly four years running an accounts-payable scam that sent 489 checks for bogus vendors to her home.

 Feds: 41 Macomb-based motorcycle gang members committed violent, drug crimes

Forty-one members and associates of a Clinton Township-based motorcycle gang have been named in a federal indictment accused of crimes such as murder, drug dealing and illegal gambling dating back 20 years. A majority of the defendants in the indictment that was unsealed Friday were arraigned in U.S. District Court in Detroit following a years-long investigation into the Devil’s Diciples Motorcycle Club.  The 38-count, 83-page charging document names Jeff Garvin “Fat Dog” Smith, 57, of Mount Clemens, as the national president since the 1980s, and Paul Anthony “Pauli” Darrah, 47, of Macomb Township, as the national vice president since about 2004.

 Con man’s ‘cash pot’ – High-tech illegal gambling operation rakes in $millions

Big money, big business, but it is all underground. Illegal operators rake in millions of dollars in sales of the popular Cash Pot game despite concentrated efforts by the police and the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) to shut them down.  A Sunday Gleaner probe has revealed that the illegal operators are getting more sophisticated, using remittance agencies to expand their operations islandwide while pulling millions from the licensed operator Supreme Ventures. Vice-president of group corporate Communications at Supreme Ventures, Sonia Davidson, last week confirmed the Sunday Gleaner findings. “Yes, we are aware of some of the more sophisticated methods now being used with the aid of technology. We do gather intelligence from the field,” said Davidson.

The BGLC is also aware of the increased use of technology by the illegal operators and their sales agents popularly referred to as ‘runners’.  In one recent case, the BGLC held an illegal operator who had a very elaborate accounting system, which showed him having an annual turnover of $300 million with his top sales agent or runner earning $3 million for the year. “The accounting records and computerised system were so detailed that they showed the sales by all agents, the dates on which the sales were made, payments to sales agents and even loans to sales agents by the illegal Cash Pot operator,” said Derrick Peart, executive director of the BGLC.

 Alabama Lawmaker, Businessman, Lobbyist Sentenced in Bingo Corruption Scandal

An Alabama businessman, a lobbyist and a former state legislator were all sentenced Monday to prison for bribery-related crimes concerning pro-gambling legislation in the state. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson sentenced former Alabama state Rep. Terry Spicer to nearly five years in prison, lobbyist Jarrod Massey to more than five years in prison and businessman Ronald Gilley to nearly seven years in prison in the case. They all have to report to prison by Aug. 27. Gilley and Massey each admitted to a wide-ranging conspiracy to bribe the Alabama state legislature, as well as to individual instances of federal bribery of legislators. Gilley also pleaded guilty to money laundering for attempting to conceal $200,000 in bribes to a state senator in order to disguise the intent of the money. The conspiracy related to legislation before the Alabama statehouse that would have been favorable to electronic bingo. Gilley owned a controlling interest in a real estate concern that sought to offer electronic bingo to the public; Massey was a lobbyist, and Gilley was one of his biggest clients. Together, they offered and gave money and gifts to Alabama legislators for their votes on the legislation.

 Former Oklahoma FBI agent pleads guilty to embezzlement

A former FBI agent pleaded guilty Friday to embezzling $43,190 in public funds and agreed to make restitution before his sentencing. Timothy A. Klotz, 45, admitted in Oklahoma City federal court that he took the funds “for my own personal use.” Klotz also admitted forging signatures on documents to accomplish the embezzlement. Klotz, of Yukon, told a judge he was supposed to pay his sources with the money he took. U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange will decide his punishment later this year. The maximum penalty for the felony offense is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. “Not all people who commit crimes are criminals,” his attorney, Michael Johnson, told The Oklahoman afterward. “This was just an unfortunate case based on unfortunate circumstances beyond Mr. Klotz’s control.” He remains free until his sentencing. The judge ordered him to stay out of gaming institutions. Klotz reported in a bankruptcy petition Jan. 30 that he had $11,000 in gambling losses over the past year.

 Michigan man convicted of embezzling from Louisville investors

A U.S. District Court jury in Louisville took just 20 minutes Wednesday to convict a previously convicted Michigan con artist of embezzling more than $300,000 from Louisville area investors. David J. Broecker, 54, of Orion Township, Mich., was convicted of two counts of fraud for soliciting about $94,000 from one investor and $229,155 from another and falsely claiming their money would be invested in auto parts and pharmaceutical businesses. Instead, the government said he spent it on himself, including $200,000 gambling at Michigan casinos. Broecker faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a $500,000 fine or both when he is sentenced Oct. 15 by Judge Jennifer Coffman.

 Second Person Charged in Repacorp Theft

A second former employee of Repacorp has been charged with theft in an alleged embezzlement scheme involving at least $690,000.  Tipp City police last week charged Tess Cremeens, 43, of Piqua. She was hired in 2006 as the assistant to Michael Wion, 40, while he served as company controller.  Cremeens is accused of taking at least $228,679 from the company. Wion, also of Piqua, was charged earlier in May with theft for allegedly taking at least $466,000. He was arrested at his new home in Florida and returned to the county by Detective Sgt. Chris Graham. Wion told him he was addicted to gambling and shopping, Graham said in a report.

 No charges for man, 71, who shot robbers in Ocala café

The Internet cafe patron who shot and injured two men as they tried to rob the business last week will likely not face any criminal charges. “Based on what I have seen and what I know at this time, I don’t anticipate filing any charges,” said Bill Gladson of the State Attorney’s Office. Gladson said he has reviewed the security surveillance video from the cafe. While he still awaits final reports from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, he said the shooting appeared justified. Samuel Williams, 71, who fired the shots, has a concealed weapons permit, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Under Florida law, a person is allowed to use deadly force if he or she fears death or serious injury to themselves or others. As long as the person isn’t committing a crime and is in a place where he or she has a right to be, they are considered to be acting within the law.

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


What can the Olympics teach us about the dangers of online gambling?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the struggles the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has dealt with in regards to gambling.  Most recently, the IOC issued a banned for athletes and their coaches for the current 2012 London Olympic Games.  The focus has primarily been on preventing match-fixing scandals and the like, however, little focus has been spent on the wide spread nature of gambling and the type of access online gambling provides.  As the 2012 Olympic Games come underway, The Los Angeles Times explains how widely available Olympic gambling has become, especially in the host country of London:

Walk into any betting shop — and they’re everywhere here — and pick your poison. Think Usain Bolt set a world record in the 100 meters? On Monday morning, the William Hill agency offered 3-1 odds for a yes bet, 2-9 on a no. Got a strong feeling which country will win the most gold medals or how many Britain will capture? Feeling quite chipper, Ladbrokes is offering 66-1 odds on the latter’s low option of under 10.

Betting on amateur sports may run counter to the idealized version of the Olympic Games, particularly for a United States that so regulates the industry. But here, it’s as common as changing weather or afternoon tea.

“Gambling has always been a way of life in Britain — horses, darts, everything,” Robin Hall said as he exited the basketball arena Sunday night. “We can bet on anything — the next person to score a goal, the next person to hit a shot.

The widely held belief of the IOC is that if you can prevent game & match fixing, then you can maintain the integrity of the game.  However, preventing gambling in general is likely the most effective way to maintain the integrity of the Olympic Games.  If you take away the market, then you take away the desire to cheat and game-fix.  The online arena is a highly established and ever growing sector of gambling that creates tremendous access and sustains such a market.  An online source explains just how important it is for the focus to remain on the dangers of online gambling and preventing its access:

“There is a new danger coming up that almost all countries have been affected by – and that is corruption, match-fixing and illegal gambling,” says IOC president Jacques Rogge.

His words should serve as a warning to the many American states that are eager to launch Internet gambling: The integrity of both amateur and professional sports can be put in jeopardy with the increasing ease – and corruptibility – of online betting by organized crime.

Already in Asia many sports leagues have collapsed after fans learned of players or referees being on the take. And in Europe, which is the global hub of Internet gaming, regulators are scrambling to set down new rules to curb such fraud.   

The issues the IOC is dealing with should be seen as a precursor and warning to those considering expanding online gambling.  The United States is at a crossroads with its gambling plans as the Obama Administration has opened the door for wide spread gambling and individual states are following the Administration’s invitation.  Now more that ever, the lessons of the IOC should be understood:

In the United States, Internet gambling was outlawed by Congress in 2006, but many states, such as New Jersey and Nevada, contend that the law remains unclear about their ability to set up commercial, private online gaming strictly for state residents.

Those states need to take a cue from Europe if they open the door to online gambling for pro sports. The European Commission announced in June that the risk of fraud in sports competition has been exacerbated by online betting, posing a risk to the integrity of sports. An estimated 7 million Europeans now gamble online, many of them younger men who follow sports.

In America, states need to cool their ardor for private Internet gambling, especially if it includes sports, until both the IOC and Europe figure this out. An industry that promotes the dubious notion of luck isn’t compatible with sports, which is driven by ideals of merit and fairness.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 7/09 -7/15

Second Joplin man pleads guilty in sports gambling operation

A second Joplin man has pleaded guilty in federal court to operating an illegal sports gambling operation on the Internet. William Lisle, 57, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Springfield to one count of using the Internet for transmitting betting and wagering information and one count of money laundering. When Lisle and a co-defendant, Kenneth B. Lovett, 72, of Joplin, were indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this year, Lisle faced 15 counts of money laundering in addition to a single count that both men faced of using the Internet to transmit information for a sports gambling operation. Lovett pleaded guilty May 18 and is awaiting sentencing. Both men could receive up to two years in prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release for the conviction on using the Internet to transmit information for a sports gambling operation. Lisle also faces up to 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and three years of supervised release for the money laundering conviction. He will be sentenced following a pre-sentencing investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

 Scotsman jailed for £160k Basel diamond theft

A Scottish man has been jailed for the high profile theft of a £160,000 diamond at this year’s BaselWorld watch and jewellery show, after admitting in court that he “wanted to steal something of value” to pay off gambling debts. The theft took place during this year’s show, with thief James Thompson admitting that he drank champagne to calm his nerves before approaching a diamond dealer posing as a fake stone dealer. He had created fake business cards and wore a suit when he met with the stone dealer. He had expressed interest in buying the £160,000 stone – said to be the most expensive of the selection he was shown – then pretended that he was angry, pocketing the stone when the dealer was distracted. Thompson’s tactics were dubbed unsophisticated and desperate by police. He had checked into a Basel hotel under his own name and is said to have made no attempt to defend his actions.

 Scandal just part of the deal at WSOP

For a game supposedly mired in its own version of the Black Sox Scandal, the world of poker isn’t losing much sleep these days. That’s the only possible conclusion you can reach after visiting the World Series of Poker at the Rio Convention Center. On the day I roamed the rooms, there was next to no buzz about the ongoing Department of Justice investigation of an alleged bank fraud, money laundering, illegal gambling and multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme involving the Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars online sites. Although the FBI’s April 2011 raid on the online sites is commonly referred to as “Black Friday,” the throngs of players dreaming of piles of prize money and coveted gold bracelets at the WSOP weren’t going to let a little corruption keep them from the tables.

 Strip mall casino patron shoots would-be robbers

A patron at a strip mall casino in Marion County shot two men who attempted to rob the place, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. According to investigators, two men burst into the strip mall casino on State Road 200 in Ocala on Friday afternoon.  A sheriff’s report said that one of the men was carrying a baseball bat, the other had a firearm.  Surveillance video from the casino shows one of the suspects destroying a computer terminal with the bat, and the second suspect pointing the handgun around the room. After one of the suspects yelled, telling the patrons not to move, the video shows one patron approach the armed suspect and start shooting. The suspects fled the building. According to the sheriff’s report, investigators later received information that two men were transported from the Marion Oaks area to Shands hospital in Gainesville with gunshot wounds.

 ‘Million Dollar Burglar’ gets long prison sentence

Forget the Bellagio Bandit. Bryan Hiser’s prolific criminal ways eclipse the two audacious casino heists that put Anthony Carleo behind bars last year. Dubbed by Las Vegas police detectives as “The Million Dollar Burglar,” Hiser faces two life sentences for pilfering homes throughout the valley. The 31-year-old, who began thieving as a teen and has been in and out of jail, seems unrepentant. He told detectives he would “keep doing this until they stop letting me out.” Hiser may have gotten his wish. After being indicted in 11 separate cases dating back to 2010 – including stealing $2.6 million in goods from a nationally renowned philanthropist and breaking into the home of a police officer’s widow on the day of her husband’s funeral – Hiser was sent to prison for two consecutive terms of 10 years to life under the state’s habitual offender law. And while authorities have linked dozens of burglaries to Hiser, the true number of his crimes could be in the hundreds, prosecutors said.

 Westland woman sentenced to prison for embezzling $600K to feed gambling addiction

An admitted gambling addict from Westland is going to prison for nearly three years for embezzling more than $600,000 from her employer – a small family business that nearly went bankrupt and laid off employees because of the woman’s crimes.  According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Lori Ann Caruso, 40, was sentenced to 33 months in prison, ordered to pay restitution to her employer and attend gambling therapy for using her payroll job with two door companies to embezzle money she later gambled away.  According to court records, Caruso embezzled from 2007 to 2011.  She wired more than $380,000 from the company’s bank account into her own personal account, and used other employees’ credit cards to charge $270,000 for personal use, most of it involving cash advances at different casinos.

 Prolific burglar locked up after plaguing city residents for a decade

A prolific burglar who plagued the lives of Cambridgeshire residents for nearly a decade has been jailed for three years after he dramatically confessed to a £100,000 haul from 48 burglaries. Andrew Dunkley asked for the crimes – 47 of which were at residential properties – to be taken into account while being sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court for another break-in  earlier in the year. Deciding to “wipe the slate clean”, the 25-year-old admitted stealing jewellery worth £18,000 in one burglary during a series of offences dating back to 2004. In another break-in the gambling addict stole goods worth £15,000 and in others across Cambridge, east Cambridgeshire and south Cambridgeshire, his haul was up to £10,000. Sentencing Dunkley to three years in prison, Judge Jonathan Haworth said: “Heaven knows how much upset you’ve caused to people in this area.”

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


New Pro-Family, Anti-Gambling Message to Oppose Mega Destination Casinos in Florida

Casino Watch Focus has reported that after a failed attempt in the Florida Legislature, the issue of mega resort casinos is being pushed by the Genting Group to appear on the ballot.  What will surely follow is a slick campaign full of deception and falls promises as was seen in Missouri.  The Pro-Family, anti-gambling group No Casinos, has already started preparations for their opposition to this potentially devastating attempt at expanded gambling.  Please support this group, avoid signing any petitions to get this on the ballot, and check out No Casinos critically important message:


A Brief Look at Crime 7/02 -7/08

Ex-Sands exec alleges prostitution in Macau sites

The fired former chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s Macau casinos alleges in court documents that billionaire Sheldon Adelson personally approved of prostitution and knew of other improper activity at his company’s properties in the Chinese enclave. Jacobs was fired in July 2010 from his role overseeing the Macau properties. He sued the companies and Adelson three months later.  In the lawsuit, he accuses the company and Adelson of breach of contract and of pushing him into illegal activity in Macau, a former Portugese colony near Hong Kong where Sands has established a strong business presence. The company owns the Venetian Macao and Sands Macao casino resorts, the Plaza Macao hotel, restaurant and shopping complex and the newly opened Sands Cotai Central resort with three hotels and two casinos. In documents revealed Thursday — including a sworn seven-page declaration that Jacobs submitted along with a summary from his attorneys of problems obtaining documents from Sands — Jacobs describes an effort he launched after arriving in Macau in May 2009 to rid the casino floor of “loan sharks and prostitution.” “This project was met with concern as (company) senior executives informed me that the prior prostitution strategy had been personally approved by Adelson,” Jacobs said in the documents.

 Ex-CFO of Philadelphia archdiocese admits embezzling $900K

The former chief financial officer of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $900,000, the Associated Press reports.  Anita Guzzardi, 42, of suburban Haddon Heights, N.J., pleaded guilty Friday to charges of theft by deception, forgery and unlawful use of a computer for stealing the money between 2005 and 2011. She became the CFO last July 1, was put on administrative leave two weeks later and fired the week after that, the archdiocese said in a March statement after Guzzardi surrendered.  Prosecutors recovered about $250,000, AP says. The archdiocese said insurance would cover most of the rest of the loss. The alleged embezzlement went on for at least six years, but no one in the church caught it, sources said. Instead, it was discovered by a fraud investigator with American Express who wondered why the archdiocese was ringing up charges at a casino.

 CEO of Poker Site Full Tilt Is Arrested

The chief executive of Full Tilt Poker, the beleaguered one-time Web poker giant, was arrested Monday on a plane that had just landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport as the government unveiled new criminal charges against him related to an alleged Ponzi scheme. The government first unsealed criminal indictments against Mr. Bitar, who is from Los Angeles but was residing in Ireland, and 10 others in April 2011 that charged the group with money laundering, bank fraud and illegal gambling. Six members of the group have pleaded guilty to some charges, while five, including Mr. Bitar, remained outside the country and hadn’t yet entered pleas. One person among the group—a bank executive—has been sentenced to three months in prison.  Mr. Bitar had remained in Ireland in order to try to negotiate a possible resolution for his company and decided to return now to face charges because his part in that effort is now complete, his attorneys said in court Monday. The company is expected to finalize a deal for a one-time rival, PokerStars, to acquire its assets shortly, a person familiar with the matter said.

 Former Miccosukee chief stole millions from tribe

The Miccosukee Tribe has turned against its former chairman with a vengeance, accusing Billy Cypress in a new lawsuit of stealing $26 million from the tribe to spend on numerous gambling trips, shopping sprees, real-estate investments and luxury cars. Cypress, who was voted out as chairman in late 2009, is accused of conspiring with two former Miccosukee financial officers, two former U.S. attorneys and a Miami brokerage firm to keep the tribe in the dark about his alleged “criminal enterprise.”  “Consequently, the Miccosukee Tribe and the Miccosukee people were unable to discover this massive web of financial theft, embezzlement and fraud until 2010,” the federal racketeering suit claims. The West Miami-Dade tribe’s airing of its own dirty laundry, especially in light of a separate Internal Revenue Service civil probe of its in-house gambling distributions to Cypress and some 600 other Miccosukee members, is unprecedented.

 Magazine ad leads to Tulare County cockfighting bust

An advertisement in a Mexican cockfighting magazine led authorities to Tulare County last month where they busted the largest known U.S. retailer in the illegal blood sport. At a home in a rural Goshen neighborhood two miles west of Highway 99, investigators found more than 1,000 razor-sharp knives used in cockfights hidden in Pringles potato chip cans. And yet no charges have been filed against Juan Carlos Gonzalez and his wife, Leticia Aguilar Gonzalez, who were arrested by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department after the June 12 raid of their home. They are believed to be the U.S. distributor for a Mexican company that produces the knives. The Gonzalez home appeared to be the base for a big operation, court papers in the case reveal. Authorities found 338 birds — chicks in boxes, hens in coops and roosters on “stringwalks,” with tethers on their legs to keep them from fighting each other. “This guy was a major supplier,” Sakach said. The Humane Society is aggressive about patrolling cockfights, but it’s a clandestine world that’s hard to crack. Authorities sometimes get tipped by angry wives who tell them that their husband is gambling away the grocery money, Sakach said.    

 Ex-Auburn attorney gets 45 months for wire fraud

A federal judge sentenced a disbarred Auburn attorney who pleaded guilty to wire fraud to almost four years in prison Tuesday. U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Fuller sentenced James Boyd Douglas Jr. to 45 months in prison after approving a plea deal between Douglas and prosecutors for a reduced sentence and no further charges. Douglas’ attorney Trip Walton said the defense was pleased with the sentence. The wire fraud charge carries a potential sentence of as much as 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Douglas was given a lesser sentence for cooperating with prosecutors. Walton characterized his client’s legal trouble as part of a personal struggle with a gambling addiction. In March, Douglas admitted to taking more than $2 million in proceeds from residential mortgage loan transactions overseen by his law firm during a six-year period. Prosecutors say clients and lenders were told the loans had been repaid. Walton said the money fed Douglas’ gambling habit. “He didn’t buy himself cars and houses, lavish things; it all just went to feed a gambling addiction,” Walton said.

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


UPDATE: Florida Mega-Casino Ballot Initiative Likely to Reach Voters

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. The Genting group formed “New Jobs and Revenues for Florida.”  Despite claims that the group’s intentions are benign and simply investigating job creation, new evidence reported by Naples News Online, paints a very different picture:

Created in April, “New Jobs and Revenues for Florida” has already spent nearly $600,000 toward what appears to be an effort to put an initiative before voters, according to campaign finance records filed with state election officials that were made public Friday.

A list of expenditures filed with state election officials gives a relatively clear picture. Most notably, National Voter Outreach, a Nevada-based petition gatherer, was paid $50,000.

“National Voter Outreach is a political consulting firm specializing in organizing signature drives to qualify issues and candidates for the ballot,” the company says on its website.

Another $150,000 has been paid to Fort Lauderdale Attorney Bruce Rogow for consulting and legal services. Rogow, a high profile appellate lawyer, has argued a number of cases before the state Supreme Court, which would have to approve any ballot language. 

A closer look at additional connections further reveals that the Genting Group is investing heavily in a ballot initiative to attempt to divert the Florida Legislature.  The Naples News continues:

The group’s major initial expenditures also include $350,000 to Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates, an Alexandria, Va.- based media and campaign consulting group with strong ties to Republicans including Gov. Rick Scott.

“There are some obvious experts that are listed there,” said Brian Hughes, a spokesman for the group. “The key now is for the committee to determine which path forward makes sense.”

The group is backed almost exclusively by companies affiliated with mega-resort developer, Malaysian-based Genting Group. Together the Bayfront 2011 Development and Resorts Word have anted up $605,500.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 6/25 -7/1

Va. gang task force gets $850K from gambling raid

U.S. Marshals on Friday gave a regional gang task force in northern Virginia more than $850,000 in funds seized during a controversial gambling raid last year at the Eden Center in Falls Church, a hub of Vietnamese culture in the region.  The check presentation Friday relied on funds seized during a yearlong investigation of what authorities called the Dragon Family gang, which they say ran an illegal gambling ring at Eden Center. More than $1 million was seized in the raids, which were conducted in August. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., a supporter of the gang task force who attended Friday’s presentation, defended the police work there.  “Because of (police), it’s safe to go to Eden Center,” Wolf said. “There’s no apologizing for it. It’s a very positive thing.”   

Dogfighting: Blood Sport Continues Despite Increased Enforcement

The pit bulls had scars along their backs and sides.  Blood and excrement stained a set of wooden boards, fitted with hinges so they could be formed into a fighting pit. Six dogs, heavy chains running from their collars to the unplanted dirt, were pinned to the ground behind a bizarre high desert house that police say was a center for the illegal blood sport of dogfighting.  “It smelled like the worst kennel you’ve ever been in in your life,” said Los Angeles Sheriff Lt. Larry Gregg, who described the scene for NBC4.  Deputies raided the house in the community of Littlerock Saturday night, arresting twelve people and removing eight dogs, Gregg said. Humans and animals were crowded into a bizarre backyard compound made entirely of old garage doors, Gregg said. Among them was a man the Humane Society of the United States says is a suspected kingpin of Southern California dogfighting.  “You walk into a garage where it looked like they were doing the fighting, and there were these two-by-fours hinged together,” Gregg said. “There was blood all over the boards, and fecal matter.” Dogfighting, which dates from the 1800s, is illegal in most countries, but continues as an underworld activity.

Pastor, wife accused of stealing $430,000 from church 

A US pastor and his wife have accused of stealing close to half a million dollars from their former church and gambling the money away. Charles Gifford, who was once the pastor at the Bethel Institutional Missionary Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, allegedly took $430,000 worth of church donations to fund trips to the Coushatta Casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  Prosecutors have said that Charles and wife Adriane stole the cash in periods between 2004 and 2007. Amy McCauley, an investigator for the white collar crimes division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office told KHOU: “Over that three-year period they were able to take that total of $430,000 from that little Baptist church.”

Man steals over $250K in property, cash from uncle 

Hillsborough detectives have recovered over $250,000 worth of property stolen from a Tampa home on June 18. Detectives say the victim’s nephew, 28-year-old James Wiggins, and his accomplice, 24-year-old Elizabeth Woodcock, broke into their home and stole $150,000 in cash, 62 1-ounce gold coins valued at $100,000, jewelry and electronics. In an interview with detectives, Wiggins and Woodcock admitted to committing the burglary and turned over the money and coins. They also told police they threw out the jewelry so they wouldn’t get caught with items that could link them to the burglary. In total, $142,853 in cash and 22 1-ounce gold coins valued at $35,000 were recovered. The rest of the cash was spent on clothes, cell phones and casino games.

Body Found In Lemay Neighborhood 

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOX) –?The body of a young woman was found this morning on a south county street. Little was known at this early point in the investigation other than about 6:30 this morning St. Louis county detectives were called here to the 200 block of Wachtel Avenue off Lemay Ferry Rd. within a short walk of River City Casino. A woman believed to be in her 20′s or 30′s was found lying in the street. Police say there were no obvious signs of trauma to the victim. Now, they’ll await a medical examiner’s report.

Two Ithaca Men Convicted for $1M Online Sports Gambling Operation

Two Tompkins County men were convicted of illegal gambling throughout Tompkins County, the District Attorney’s office announced Tuesday. Both men were convicted on June 5 after pleading guilty to one count of first-degree Promoting Gambling and agreeing to forfeit the gambling proceeds. Jeffrey S. Iacovelli, 52, of the 100 Block of Troy Road in Ithaca, and Carmen Ciaschi, 51, of the 300 Block of Warren Place in Ithaca, were earlier named in a 20-count indictment including promoting gambling, possessing gambling records and conspiracy. Telephone and computer wiretaps by the New York State Police found the two men “were part of an online sports gambling network based in Costa Rica,” the county said. The gambling operation  garnered more than $1 million in bets from Ithaca participants and surrounding areas during 2009.

 Gambling ring collected $1B in one year

An illegal sports   gambling ring based in North Texas raked in $1 billion in just one year through offshore websites and a toll-free phone number that received up to 35,000 calls per month, the Internal Revenue Service said. The case — which may be one of the largest of its kind ever targeted by federal agents — is detailed in a series of court filings by the IRS, which has raided homes and businesses and seized cash, fancy cars, expensive jewelry, rare coins and sports memorabilia. No criminal charges have been filed, but an IRS agent assigned to the agency’s criminal investigations division signed the seizure documents. He wrote that the seized property was part of an ongoing money-laundering investigation. “A group of approximately 22 individuals (conspirators) have conducted an illegal gambling enterprise within the United States,” an IRS agent said in court documents. “The gambling organization originated in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.”

 Sands Suit Alleges ‘Prostitution Strategy’

A former top China executive at Las Vegas Sands suggested in a court filing made public Thursday that there was potential wrongdoing by company executives, including allegations that chairman Sheldon Adelson approved a “prostitution strategy” at the casino operator’s Macau properties. The filing in Nevada District Court in Las Vegas by Steve Jacobs, the executive, is one of the most explosive yet in a continuing legal dispute between Mr. Jacobs and his former employer. Mr. Jacobs and his attorney accused the casino operator of withholding documents Mr. Jacobs is seeking in order to establish jurisdiction in his wrongful termination lawsuit, which was first filed in 2010.

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