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.

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