Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Brief Look at Crime 8/20 -8/26

Warrants issued for 2 in Baytown guard slaying

Capital murder warrants have been issued for two men in the killing of a guard at a suspected illegal gambling room near Houston. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office says the Aug. 5 gunfire in Baytown during a robbery left Juan Pardo-Gonzalez dead. Authorities on Tuesday announced the search for 26-year-old Rafael Gomez Soliz and 28-year-old Santiago Jaimes Gonzalez. Investigators say three men who allegedly were gambling drew guns and shot the uniformed guard before fleeing with an undetermined amount of cash. The name of the third fugitive has not been released.

 Jupiter man pleads guilty in May attempted kidnapping, avoids life sentence

A Jupiter man Wednesday traded a possible life sentence for the chance to get sent to prison for a maximum of 20 years by pleading guilty to one charge in connection with an elaborate plot to kidnap a wealthy BallenIsles man in May and hold him for a $20 million ransom.  Pavlos Kaimacliotis, 36, pleaded guilty to trying to commit kidnapping. In return, federal prosecutors dropped a conspiracy charge which could have sent him to prison for life and agreed not to push for the maximum punishment. Kaimacliotis and Michael Melillo, 50, of Palm Beach Gardens, were arrested shortly after undercover FBI agents assured them the ransom money had been delivered and their plan to kidnap a man identified only as “J.F.” had been a success. Agents said the plan was led by a cash-strapped Melillo. The former New Jersey attorney blamed their intended victim for setting him up for $100,000 in gambling losses, and said he wanted money to provide for his young son, agents said.

 Former Palms employees indicted in race and sports book scheme

A former manager of the Palms race and sports book and two other ex-employees have been indicted by a federal grand jury in a betting scheme authorities say defrauded the resort out of more than $800,000. Michael Albanese and the other employees – Matthew Kidle, an administrator, and Kassie Baker, a ticket writer – are accused of using their sports book positions to accept “invalid” wagers on horse races. A well-known Palms bettor, Charles Pecchio, also has been charged in the scheme, which occurred between July 2006 and July 2007. Other bettors are alleged to have been involved, but no one else is  charged. “We don’t see this type of activity very often,” said Jerry Markling, chief of enforcement for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which participated in the investigation with federal Homeland Security agents. “This scheme can only work if you have employees involved.”

 Fraudster who stole 1.5 million from his company and own MOTHER to feed online gambling habit jailed for five years

A company boss who swindled more than £1.5m to fund an online gambling addiction has been jailed for five years. Graham Taylor, 66, stole the sum over four years while working for Nema Ltd, an engineering firm where he worked as finance director.  Taylor’s thefts were so large they nearly caused the firm, based in Chichester Business Park, Rochdale, to go under and three members of staff lost their jobs.  Bolton Crown Court also heard how he had taken multiple cash withdrawals from his mother’s bank account while she had dementia and took money from her account just two days after she died. He pleaded guilty to four counts of theft from employees relating to the company between 2007 and 2011 and two counts of fraud by abuse of position relating to claiming his late mother’s estate.

 Archdiocesan embezzler gets 2 to 7 years

Amid the cries and sobs of relatives who packed the courtroom, the former chief financial officer for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was sentenced this morning to 2 to 7 years in prison for her admitted embezzlement of more than $906,000 from the church treasury. Anita Guzzardi turned and looked at her husband Angelo and mouthed the words “I’m sorry” as Common Pleas Court Judge Ellen Ceisler imposed the sentence. Busico argued that Guzzardi’s theft – which occurred during a time when she was steadily promoted and her salary went from $93,000 to $124,000 – was caused by her gambling addiction that in turn was triggered by her feelings of betrayal in 2005 when the District Attorney’s office announced its first grand jury report about the sexual abuse of children by some Catholic priests in the region.

 The nerve to steal $12m worth of steel

He cleaned out close to S$12 million worth of his company’s products over three years, selling its high-end steel products to scrap metal companies. Yesterday, Low Kok Leong (above), 50, was jailed 12 1/2 years for two counts of criminal breach of trust. He committed the crimes when he was an employee of Arcelor Mittal Singapore, a multi-national steel and mining company. He had been a warehouse manager for about 10 years and was in charge of the company’s stocks at Yang Kee Logistics’s warehouse in Tuas.  Without company permission, he would issue delivery orders and e-mails to the staff of the warehouse, authorising the release of its steel products, which include tubes and plates for the oil and gas industry, for sale to five scrap metal companies. He pocketed the money he received, worth almost S$12 million in all.Low’s lawyer, Mr A Thamilselvan, said his client committed the offences to feed his gambling habit.

 Frenchtown man jailed after home set afire with wife, daughter inside

A Frenchtown man who allegedly responded to his wife’s request for a divorce by trying to set their home afire – even though his wife and sleeping 7-year-old daughter were inside – now faces arson and assault charges. Leroy James “Jim” McKay, 40, was charged Friday with arson, a felony, and partner or family member assault and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors. McKay’s alleged attempt to burn down the house “makes him unbelievably risky,” said Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg, who requested a $20,000 bail at McKay’s initial court appearance on Friday. She told them that her husband is an alcoholic with a gambling addiction, and that when he got home from a bar at 3:30 a.m., she told him they needed a divorce, according to Van Valkenburg’s affidavit.

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

Genting attempts to buy casino expansion in Florida

Casino Watch Focus has reported  on the on going attempts of Genting Group to bring mega-resort, destination casino gambling to Florida.  After failed attempts in the Florida legislature, the Genting group has decided to take the issue to the ballot box.  Casino Watch Focus has also reported on the strong support that has already come out against the ballot initive, most recently an advertisement stating what happens in Vegas should to stay in Vegas.  However, Genting isn’t putting all it’s eggs in the ballot initiative basket.  The Miami Herald is reporting  that the Genting group has been busy paying for as many Florida legislators as possible:

Genting’s political check writers, who had taken a bit of a break since the legislative session ended without passing their casino resort legislation, have been busy. The Malaysian-based casino giant has written a whopping $431,000 in campaign contributions since July 16, during the run-up to the primary.

The largest chunk of money — $189,000 — went to the company’s newly formed political committee as it prepares to put a constitutional amendment on the November 2014 ballot. (Presumably they are polling ballot language to give to petition gatherers on election day.) The rest of it went to mega contributions to the political committees of some key legislative players such as Sens. Jack Latvala and Joe Negron. Who is the Republican to watch in the casino-resistant House? Jason Brodeur of Sanford.

The Miami Herald has been critical of Gentings intentions to expand gambling in the Sunshine State.  In a recent article they explain that the company is looking to go beyond helpful development of the land they purchased and are instead being motivated by greed:

[F]or Genting, it’s not enough to offer a world-class hotel and restaurant complex a stone’s throw from the Port of Miami and a hop across two causeways to world-famous South Beach.

It’s about the cash generated by gambling — risky to the players and to the cultural destination Miami has become, but a win-win for the conglomerate across the globe.

Otherwise the gaming giant wouldn’t be fighting so hard and spending so much to ram casino gambling resorts down our throats.

Here’s a better idea, free of charge: Flip the property.

It’s not the right neighborhood. Genting bought low in hard times, but with real estate bouncing back, they can make a decent penny on the investment.

And we’ll be rid of the poltergeist.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/13 -8/19

Man allegedly steals $186K in jewelry, clothing to compensate for gambling loss

A man Santa Fe police cannot positively identify told officers that he stole more than $186,000 in jewelry and merchandise from two downtown Santa Fe stores to get back money he lost at an Albuquerque casino.   Martinez told Brewer that his wife dropped him off at the Hard Rock Casino in Albuquerque on Saturday night and that by the end of the night he had become “extremely intoxicated and lost all of his money,” according to the document. On Sunday, Martinez told Brewer, he and his wife were driving to Raton when he “broke the news” to her, which precipitated an argument and him being kicked out of the car. When Brewer, according to her document, asked Martinez if he stole the items in order to get the money back that he lost the previous night, Martinez answered, “Yes.”

 Nationwide cashier embezzled $300,000 from customers to fund roulette habit

A building society cashier embezzled £300,000 from customers when she became addicted to online roulette. Elaine Barrett stole from 49 customers at Nationwide Building Society in Glasgow’s Cambridge Street to fund her habit. Her scheme revolved around moving money from customers setting up new savings accounts into a separate account that only she could access. The 52-year-old was snared when a hand-written cheque for £9229 from a woman’s account that was closed to a fictitious account was spotted by bank officials. Barrett was the cashier that dealt with the customer and when investigated it came to light she had embezzled the money. Further investigations were carried out as a result of this and a number of customers served by Barrett had faced similar irregularities.

 Taylor Woman Charged With Stealing $115G From Family Business to Gamble

A Taylor woman turned herself in to the Lackawanna County district attorney’s office on Wednesday to face charges that she stole more than $115,000 from her family’s sheet metal business and lost it gambling, according to a criminal complaint. Delane Rhodes, 49, 214 W. Taylor St., took on the role of office manager at Fetchen Sheet Metal, Rear 329 S. Main St., Old Forge, in 2006 when her parents, who owned the business, retired and her brother, Edward Fetchen, bought it. Between 2008 and 2012, Ms. Rhodes stole the money in various ways, investigators said, beginning with paying herself for overtime she never worked then later writing dozens of checks from the business to herself. Ms. Rhodes also used the company credit card for personal purchases to the tune of more than $4,000, investigators said. Ms. Rhodes also allegedly took loans out from the business for herself in the amount of more than $78,000.

 Woman sentenced for bilking military out of $190,000

A Sault Ste. Marie woman will serve a 20-month conditional sentence in the community for stealing more than $190,000 from the federal government.  But for the significant health and addiction issues at play during the time Crystal Charlebois-Miller defrauded her employer, she would be going to “real jail,” Ontario Court Justice Andrew Buttazzoni said Thursday.  “It’s a close call,” he said, after noting “jail terms are the usual penalties” for cases of “fraud against the public at large.” Buttazzoni described the offence as a “sophisticated fraud” involving a significant amount of money. He cited the accused’s addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling and underling mental health issues among the special circumstances he considered in determining sentence. Charlebois-Miller has lost a good job, her marriage and her reputation, he said. A public service employee for 22 years, she has had approximately $99,000 from her pension clawed back by the government.

 Employees fleece bosses of $398 million

Forensic accounting firm Warfield & Associates investigated 89 cases of employee fraud between 2001 and 2012, finding that in many cases it was simply a matter of workers sending money to their own bank accounts. Report author Brett Warfield said employee fraud was costly, and revealed governance weakness among some of the country’s major businesses. “The sums of money that were stolen from some of the organisations were incredible, with nine cases involving more than $10 million,” he said. “The ease with which perpetrators in many organisations used the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) system to simply credit their own bank accounts is very concerning.  Gambling addiction was the reason in more than half (or 46) of the cases studied, while improving lifestyle was the motivator in 35 cases.

 Former Miami cop convicted of fraud to be sentenced

Vernell Reynolds, a former Miami cop who stole thousands from a black police officers association to fund her gambling habit, will learn her sentence Wednesday afternoon in federal court.  U.S. Judge Marcia G. Cooke will sentence Reynolds, who pleaded guilty in April to fraud and tax charges.  Reynolds was head of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association, founded by one the department’s first black police officers in 1946. The group advocates for black officers and devotes efforts to charity work to benefit the inner-city. Several years ago, senior members of the group discovered thousands of unauthorized debit-card withdrawals from Reynolds.  She later was indicted on 16 counts of wire fraud for the embezzlement scheme that lasted from September 2008 to June 2010. The police department has since fired her.

 Casino operators pay penalty of $500,000 for breaches

Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) have been fined $357,500 and $140,000 respectively for breaching social safeguard requirements in 2011. The Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore (CRA) imposed the penalty on MBS for allowing 10 people to enter its casino without valid entry levels, two people to remain in the casino after their entry levies expired, and 19 people with exclusion orders to enter and remain in its casino, reported The Straits Times.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/06 -8/12

Macau Raids Casinos After Deadly Attacks on Guests

Macau police in operation with Chinese and Hong Kong authorities raided a number of casinos and hotels during the late night and early morning hours of August 3 and 4 (Friday and Saturday) in what is being codenamed “Operation Thunderbolt”. The raid follows a series of murders and attacks targeting tourists.  1300 people have been questioned and 150 of those detained as a result of the investigation.  “Crime comes inevitably with casinos,” Au Kam-sun, a Macau lawmaker, said yesterday in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News. “The police make a clean-up every now and then to keep the triads in check.” 130 individuals were arrested on Thursday August 2 as part of a cheating scheme at three unidentified casinos.  That case involved $11.6 million with casino dealers alleged to have taken bribes.  They are also accused of using tiny cameras to take images of cards on baccarat tables.

 Police’s operation to combat organized crime

Officers of Police Organized Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB), together with the Financial Investigations Division of Narcotics Bureau and Crime Unit of New Territories North mounted an operation codenamed “Firepage” to combat money laundering activities by triad societies yesterday (August 2). After in-depth investigations, Police raided a total of 21 locations in the territory during early hours yesterday and arrested 84 men and 46 women aged between 30 and 69. They were suspected in connection with a variety of offences including money laundering, gambling in illegal gambling establishments, managing vice establishments, selling dutiable fuel and other triad related offences. During the operation, Police seized about $3.4 million cash (including Hong Kong dollars and foreign currencies), 11 watches and two private cars, with a total value of $8 million. Police investigations revealed that the target triad societies were in connection with money laundering activities involving over $300 million. The operation is still under way.

 MIT students scammed Massachusetts State Lottery for $8 million: report

Maybe MIT should stand for “muggers in training.” Ten years after a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students and a professor famously took Las Vegas casinos to the cleaners counting cards, a new gambling scandal has arisen that involves MIT: a researcher and a group of students scammed the Massachussets Lottery. Worse though, is that the Massachusetts Lottery knew they were doing it and chose to share in the windfall instead of protecting the integrity of the game. The math whizzes were looking for a unique school project when a couple of them figured out that it would only take about $100,000 in tickets to guarantee success in the Cash WinFall game. When the jackpot rose to $2 million or more, group members bought in and shared in the prize money. By 2005, the group had earned about $8 million in winnings, reported the Boston Globe. Despite an obvious conflict of interest in knowing that the game was compromised, officials continued to allow hundreds of thousands of $2 tickets to be bought by the merry band of thieves, the paper reported.

 Woman left five children alone in car while gambling

For about an hour one night last week, Yulissa Troncoso was paged repeatedly over the intercom as she played the slots at the Sands casino, Bethlehem police said. The casino was trying to reach her because her five kids — the youngest 10 months old — had been discovered alone in her car with the windows cracked open slightly, police said. The high temperature that day, July 26, had been 91 degrees. In what could be the first case of its kind locally, Troncoso, 33, of 518 N. Dauphin St. in east Allentown, was charged Friday with leaving her kids alone in her car while she gambled.  She cried as she was arraigned on five counts of endangering the welfare of a child, police said, and then was sent to Northampton County Prison under $10,000 bail. “She wanted to gamble and she took her gamble and lost,” police Lt. Mark DiLuzio said. “You don’t leave a child alone in a car, unattended, under any circumstances.”

 Las Vegas Sands faces federal probe, WSJ says

The Wall Street Journal on Saturday reported that casino-hotel operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. is being probed for possible violations of U.S. money-laundering laws.  The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles are investigating whether Las Vegas Sands Corp. and “several” executives violated laws by “failing to alert authorities to millions of dollars transferred to its casinos by two Las Vegas high rollers,” the Journal’s article says.  The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles is looking at how the company handled millions of dollars from a Mexican businessman who was later indicted in the USA for drug trafficking, and a former California businessman who was later convicted of taking illegal kickbacks, according to the Journal.

 Casino analyst sentenced to prison in slot cheating scheme

A former analyst with the state’s largest casino company was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison Monday in an elaborate player’s club scheme on the Strip. Tony Ahn, 29, who lost his job amid the cheating scandal, pleaded guilty in May to spearheading the conspiracy. He acknowledged betraying the trust of his company, then known as MGM Mirage, to unlawfully win $863,895 from slot machines. U.S. District Judge James Mahan ordered Ahn on Monday to pay the entire $863,895 in restitution and serve two years of supervised release after he gets out of prison. The judge gave Ahn until Nov. 5 to surrender to federal prison authorities. “This is an American tragedy to see you here,” Mahan told Ahn. “You have so much potential. I hope you see this as a positive and turn your life around.” Ahn apologized to the judge and promised never to get in trouble with the law again. “I definitely made a big mistake,” he said. “There’s no excuse for what I did.”

 Corsican mafia figure gunned down at butcher shop

An alleged key figure in one of Corsica’s most powerful crime families, Maurice Costa of the “Brise de Mer” gang, was gunned down in broad daylight Tuesday at his local butcher shop, police said.  Two masked gunmen shot and killed Costa, 60, at 11:08 am (0908 GMT) through the window of the butcher shop in the village of Ponte-Leccia in the north of the French island, police said.  Police said a single hunting rifle was fired at least twice and that Costa died on the spot after being struck in the chest. The gunmen fled in a car that was later found burned a few kilometres (miles) from the village.  The gang, named after a bar in the northeastern Corsican city of Bastia where members allegedly gathered, is considered one of the most powerful and influential criminal organisations on the island. The gang, whose presumed members often denied its existence at trial, was allegedly involved in a wide range of crimes from money laundering to illegal gambling.

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

Funding Cuts Impact Outreach of Florida’s Problem Gambling Helpline

Casino Watch Focus has been reporting on the ongoing gambling expansion debate that has consumed the Florida political and financial landscape.  As lawmakers continue to focus on the politics and financial gains or pitfalls, the Florida Gambling Council is providing prospective on the real danger to Florida families. Casino Watch Focus reported that the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling explained that legislators were ignoring the real dangers of gambling buy not adequately funding Florida’s Gambling Help Hotlines.  They pointed to some very starteling statistics on the increase in crime due to gambling as well as increased in unemployment, public assistance and even suicide rates.  Now the Council is reporting a big decline in those seeking help as a direct result of those funding cuts.  On online source explains:

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling’s (FCCG’s) HelpLine 1-888-ADMIT-IT,  saw a 32% drop in contacts for those seeking help with a gambling problem, marking the first year ever that contacts have decreased.   The Florida Lottery has been a primary funding source of the HelpLine and statewide awareness, education, and prevention for the past decade up until last year when funding of the HelpLine ceased.  At the same time, the Lottery reported fiscal year sales of $4.45 billion, the highest in history in Florida. In addition, Florida’s slot revenues from licensed racino’s also substantially increased, with roughly an $8.5 million bump over 2010-2011, while at the same time funding for problem gambling programing was reduced almost 40% from the previous year’s funding of $690,000.

According to Pat Fowler, FCCG Executive Director, “We’ve always known that the number of help contacts is directly tied to the level of public access to the HelpLine and information on available resources. To see such a drop in those seeking help over the past year is very concerning, since this could reflect thousands of Floridians who did not seek help simply due to a lack of awareness that help even existed.  Equally alarming are data from HelpLine callers indicating higher gambling debt, a lower income, and a greater risk of suicide in the past year.”

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling also released some of the specific statistics from 2011-2012.  The online source continues:

  • Suicide – Despite the decrease in contacts in fiscal year 2011/2012 from last year, the severity of the content of the calls worsened as shown by the 6% increase in those who claimed the gambler had suicidal ideations or suicidal attempts (22% up from 16% last year).
  • Debt – The average amount of debt owed due to gambling increased by $20,000 over last fiscal year ($42,471 in 10/11 to $62,513 in 11/12)
  • Income – More than one third (36%) of the gamblers cited an income range of $15,000 to  $35,000, with 15% earning less than $15,000, which for most families barring the number of children in the household is below poverty level in Florida.
  • Primary Gambling Problem – The most frequently cited primary gambling problem was:

Slots – 50%     Cards – 30%     Lottery – 11%

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/30 -8/05

Suit blames Miss. casino for gambler’s death after drinking

A $75 million lawsuit accuses a Mississippi casino of causing the death of a pain-pill-taking gambler by plying him with too many free drinks, the Associated Press reports. Bryan Lee Glenn, 30, died in August 2009 in his room at the IP Casino Resort and Spa in Biloxi.  Glenn was taking several painkillers, including Percocet and morphine, along with antipsychotic medications. He suffered a traumatic brain injury in a four-wheeler accident in 2004, lost everything in Hurricane Katrina a year later and then injured his back in a 2007 car accident. The suit also claims he had attempted suicide days before he died.

 Former Coventry charity boss stole £120,000 of funds for blind

A FORMER charity boss has admitted stealing more than £120,000 of funds meant to help blind and partially sighted people in Coventry. Tyrone Pooley illegally siphoned off funds from his charity, based in Cheylesmore, and used the money to feed his gambling addiction, a court has heard. The 59-year-old first stole £60,000 from the Fund for the Blind and Partially Sighted in 2006, when he was a trustee of the charity. He then lied to the Charity Commission after failing to transfer the cash to the designated account in December 2008, and stole a further £61,422.39 in 2009, Coventry Crown Court was told. Tyrone, who lived in Coventry at the time but has since moved to Whiteladies Road, Bristol, pleaded guilty to two charges of theft and providing false and misleading information to the Charity Commission regarding the charity’s accounts.

 John Milton Merritt Allegedly Stole $300,000 From Four Orphan Girls

Last Friday, Attorney John Milton Merritt plead guilty to 12 counts of using forged court orders to defraud clients, Oklahoma News 9 reports. Among those affected by the scheme were four orphaned girls whose parents were killed in a 2002 car crash and a boy injured in a 2005 car accident, NewsOK is reporting. In total, Mr. Merritt stole just under $450,000 from the children and $1.7 million in total. He reportedly could face more than 30 years in prison. Prosecutors appear unmoved by the claim that Merritt always intended to pay back his clients but was prevented from doing so by the federal investigation. Merritt is being forced to forfeit over $700,000, Court House News is reporting . Prosecutors intend to seek full financial restitution. Sadly, Merritt is not the only person who tried to live off the money of orphaned children. Last year, James Hoots plead guilty to stealing $170,000 from six orphans in order to finance his gambling addiction, the National Council of Problem Gambling reports.

 PokerStars Will Pay $547 Million To Settle U.S. Government Charges and Buy Full Tilt Poker

PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker company, has agreed to pay $547 million to settle the U.S. government’s civil charges that the company used fraudulent methods to process payments and evade U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling. Under the agreement, PokerStars, based in the Isle of Man, will also purchase Full Tilt Poker, a formal rival which collapsed following the U.S. government’s move in April 2011 to shut down the U.S. operations of the major online poker operators. The deal calls for PokerStars to make $184 million available to reimburse U.S. customers of Full Tilt within 90 days that had money on deposit at the company.

 Ireland Olympic squad rocked by betting scandal claims

Ireland’s bid for Olympic gold has been derailed, before it has even started, by claims of a betting scandal involving a member of Team Ireland. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, confirmed that he received an allegation concerning one of the competitors due to compete at the London Games, which opened last night in spectacular circumstances. Hickey revealed that he is currently seeking legal advice on the matter and that the alleged competitor was also been informed of the investigation. The Olympic Council of Ireland subsequently received a detailed letter from the competitor’s solicitor on Thursday and a full investigation is now under way with the competitor believed to have made two bets backing an opponent to win an event in which they themselves were directly competing. This practice is prohibited by The International Olympic Committee and earlier this month IOC chief Jacques Rogge confirmed the IOC’s stance saying “the fight against doping and illegal gambling remain the absolute priority of the IOC”.

 Maine Man Admits $900,000 Theft From Nonprofit He Led

The former longtime head of a charity serving low-income Maine residents pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling $900,000 from the organization to cover mortgage payments, gambling debts, and other personal expenses, reports The Portland Press Herald. Thomas Nelson served as executive director of York County Community Action Corp. in Sanford, Me., for 21 years before stepping down in February 2010. Prosecutors said in court filings that beginning in 2004, Mr. Nelson diverted charity funds to another, now-defunct nonprofit for which he was treasurer and arranged overpayments to a consulting firm that gave him kickbacks. Mr. Nelson pleaded guilty to counts of embezzlement, conspiracy, tax evasion, and signing a false tax return. Under the plea agreement he will pay $1.2-million in restitution to the York County charity and $150,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.

 Man found guilty in murder of St. Charles County insurance agent

A man who police linked through DNA evidence to the 2007 slaying of a St. Charles insurance agent has been found guilty of first-degree murder and robbery. Jurors deliberated for 2 1/2 hours Thursday before finding Paul C. White, 35, a former St. Charles resident, guilty in the killing of Robert Eidman. Eidman, 48, was shot with a 9 mm pistol three times on June 8, 2007. The case went unsolved for more than three years until DNA found on the inside of Eidman’s rear pocket — where he kept his wallet — matched up with White’s DNA and broke the case. During the three-day trial, assistant prosecutors Laura Whitlow and Phil Groenweghe laid out a case that was part CSI, part theater, with testimony from a series of forensics experts as well as White’s play-by-play of the robbery and murder while on the stand. White testified that he and his roommate, Cleo S. Hines, had decided to rob someone that day because White was broke after gambling away $1,200 on craps and blackjack the night before. White said that he went to Walmart the morning of June 8 to rob someone cashing a paycheck, but he changed his mind after seeing the sea of the surveillance cameras. He testified that he remembered his wife’s car insurance agent took cash payments, so he and Hines decided to rob Eidman instead.

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

UPDATE: Zynga Confirms Real Money Poker to begin in 2013

Casino Watch Focus has reported that Zynga has been heavly considering offering real money online gambling.  They have worked with social media company Facebook to offer games to online users of the social media site.  They have a full infrastructure in place to have people purchase credits to use in their various games, the most popular being Zynga Slots and Zynga Poker.  An online source is now reporting that Zynga has decided to launch real money online Poker in 2013:

Following a late afternoon collapse of Zynga’s share price Wednesday, CEO Mark Pincus confirmed reports featured on earlier in the week that the company will be offering “real money” online poker in the first half of 2013.

Pincus stated that the launch will be subject to individual country regulations.  “Real money” play may not immediately be available within the US, although some states have begun legalizing online poker while a bi-partisan measure is currently being considered at the federal level.  Sponsors of this legislation have suggested it will likely be attached to an upcoming bill.

This sudden and quick move seems to smell of desperations as the companies stock has plumited and its users have dropped by millions.  The online source continues:

The company expected full-year EPS of 4 to 9 cents vs. estimates of 26 cents (for 2012).  Earnings were significantly less than those projections, however.

The company reported earnings of 1 cent a share on revenue of $332 million.Analysts had expected 5 cents a share on revenue of $344 million, according to an estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Since buying OMGPOP for about $210 million, Zynga’s daily users have fallen from about 70 million to just more than 55 million.

Following trading, Zynga shares had dropped to an all time low at press time, falling by as much as 36 percent.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/23 -7/29

Macau murder spate adds to casino industry worries

In Macau, three murders in the past two weeks have raised fears that violent crime, for years a rarity in the world’s gambling capital, is growing more common at the same time as the island’s casino operators are struggling with slower growth. Police in the gaming and entertainment hotspot, a one hour ferry ride from Hong Kong, said a Chinese woman who also held a Japanese passport was found murdered last Thursday in a residential area minutes away from the cavernous gambling halls of Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian casino. That came just days after two Chinese nationals were murdered at the five-star Grand Lapa hotel, and at the end of June a senior figure in Macau’s junket industry was severely beaten. By contrast, only five homicide cases were recorded between June 2011 and May 2012, according to Macau police statistics. There does not appear to be an obvious link between the June and July incidents, but security experts and Macau residents say the recent outbreak of extreme violence has its roots among Macau’s junket operators – the shadowy companies that help bring China’s wealthiest to the gambling tables.

 Gambler jailed for double murder

A taxi driver and compulsive gambler who carried out the “unspeakably wicked” murders of two elderly ladies has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years. Heavy-drinking gambling addict Andrew Simon Flood pleaded guilty to murdering Margaret Biddolph, 78, and Anne Leyland, 88, at Liverpool Crown Court. Flood, a married father of four, used a dressing gown cord and a telephone charger cable to strangle his victims – both of whom were customers of his, the court was told. Flood was a “desperate” man who was in around £18,000 worth of debt and could not pay the rent on his family home.

Mrs Biddolph’s body was discovered at her house in Lonsdale Road, Southport, on February 21, and Mrs Leyland was found dead at her home in nearby Birch Street in the early hours of the following day. Speaking after the sentencing, Mrs Biddolph’s daughter Anne Pearson said: “Today’s sentencing sees justice done in the eyes of the law, but it will never bring our mother back to us. Her death is something we will never fully recover from.” Recorder of Liverpool Judge Clement Goldstone QC said Flood knew where his victims lived because he had worked for them as a private hire taxi driver. “You targeted them because you wanted to rob them of their money and jewellery in order to feed your dependency to alcohol and your addiction to gambling which had caused you and your family to suffer financial hardship.”

 Internet poker owner handed 14-month prison term

NEW YORK, July 23 (Reuters) – An owner of Absolute Poker, one of the three largest Internet poker companies, was sentenced to 14 months in prison on Monday after admitting to deceiving banks over the processing of gambling proceeds. Brent Beckley, 32, joined Costa Rica-based Absolute Poker in 2003 and became its head of payment processing.  Last December, he pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to break U.S. laws against gambling on the Internet. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Beckley deserved prison time despite his surrender and cooperation because “the sentence has to make clear that the government of the United States means business in these types of cases.”  “I fooled myself into thinking that what I was doing was OK,” Beckley told the judge.  Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged 11 people at the three biggest online poker companies: Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. The U.S. government also seized their Internet domain names.

 Feds say Ga. casino boat allowed illegal gambling

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say the owners of a Savannah-based casino boat owe the government nearly $7 million earned from illegal gambling in state waters off Georgia and South Carolina. An indictment unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court charges the general manager of Diamond Casino and two of his boat captains with operating an illegal gambling business. Prosecutors say Diamond Casino’s cruise boat routinely allowed gambling in state waters between July 2010 and last November. Casino boats must sail beyond state waters — which extend to 3 miles offshore — in order to offer legal gambling.

 Two Internet cafes, one in Fall River, to pay $750,000 for illegal gambling

After allegedly facilitating illegal gambling at locations throughout Massachusetts, two so-called Internet cafés, including one owned by former Fall River city councilor Leo Pelletier, have agreed to pay a total of $750,000 to the state. Additionally, Teradyne Systems Massachusetts acknowledges that the two cafés used the sweepstakes software in a manner that violated Massachusetts consumer protection laws, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. New England Internet Café of Fall River, also known as Leo’s Place, and Internet Marketing Group of Lynnfield licensed and used sweepstakes software distributed by Teradyne.  “Through today’s action, these cafés will return their illegal profits back to the Commonwealth and cease operating in the state,” AG Coakley said. “These so-called Internet cafés are illegal gambling operations with no protections for consumers, including no posted odds, minimum odds, or guarantee of payouts for patrons.”

 Caesars fined for under-21 gambling

Caesars Entertainment Corp. is paying the state a $100,000 fine to settle underage gambling charges, but may face a stiffer penalty if it happens again. “This is not an isolated incident, but a pattern of abuse,” Nevada Gaming Commissioner Randolph Townsend said Thursday as the regulatory panel voted to accept the settlement with Caesars over multiple charges of gambling and alcohol consumption by underage customers at several of the company’s Strip resorts between 2010 and May of this year. Townsend, whose comments were echoed by fellow commissioners John Moran Jr. and Tony Alamo Jr., said Caesars was getting off easy. “If it happens again, I want a seven-figure settlement or else we will litigate it,” Townsend said. “As we enter the Internet gaming world, this becomes a significant issue.” Alamo said $100,000 wasn’t enough to send a message to the industry. He was told by deputy attorney general John Michela, who negotiated the settlement, that the figure was based on history and precedent.

 Friends abduct 20-yr-old, kill him when he raises alarm

A  hotel management topper teamed up with a young couple, both college dropouts, to kidnap a north Delhi-based businessman’s son for ransom but ended up killing their 20-year-old abductee in panic when he started to raise an alarm. The victim has been identified as  Shivam Kapoor, a B Com student residing in Malkaganj. His friend-turned-kidnapper, Runeet Gulati, 20, had topped his batch at a well-known hotel management institute in Bangalore. Shivam, Runeet’s neighbour, was targeted because his father had just completed a big  land deal, police said. Also accused are Abhey Diwan, 27, and Mahima, 25, a married couple heavily in debt due to Abhey’s gambling habit, and their friend Jatin, 24. Abhey and Runeet were friends. The murder was not a part of the initial plan but with the kidnapping plan having gone awry, Shivam Kapoor, was shot in the head and his body was burnt and dumped near a canal in Maurya Enclave, near Pitampura in north Delhi. Cops solved the murder after getting clues from an 11-year-old boy who saw the abductors dump the body. The accused were arrested on Wednesday.

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