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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