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.

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