Monthly Archives: September 2012

Video Game Company First to Enter US Online Gambling Market

Casino Watch Focus has been reporting on the ongoing saga of expanded online gambling in the US.  A ruling by the Obama Administration has opened the door for some states to engage in online gambling.  Legal questions still loom as to how far online gambling’s jurisdiction lies, and Congress is still debating proposals to allow full scale federal online gambling.  In preparation, several social media and gaming groups, such as Facebook and Zanga have looked into expanding their business to real money gambling. Most recently, Apple decided to allow real money gambling on their iPhones and iPads, albeit in the UK, not in the US.  Now, an online source is reporting that a Nevada-based video game company seeks to become the first to enter the federal online market:

Video game developer 3G Studios filed with the Nevada Gaming Control Board for multiple Online Service Provider’s licenses, making them the first video game company to move into the U.S. online gambling market. With this move, 3G Studios will be the first video game company to be approved for real-money gambling in the U.S.

3G Studios plans to launch one of the nation’s first licensed, for-money U.S.-based poker sites. The site will initially be restricted to Nevada residents, and geo-location software will ensure that gamblers are located in Nevada at the time of the wager. The site will also feature other casino-style games that can be played for virtual currency, and as U.S. gambling restrictions loosen, may be also played for real money in the future.

An August decision by a Federal Judge ruled that poker was a game of skill opened the door for online poker sites to surface in states that legalized the practice. Nevada joined Delaware in legalizing online gambling, and at least 10 other states are expected to follow suit next year.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 9/17 – 9/23

Las Vegas Sands hid evidence in former executive’s lawsuit: court

Las Vegas Sands  deceived a Nevada court in an attempt to stall a lawsuit by the former head of its Macau operations, a state judge ruled on Friday, fining the casino operator and abridging its right to object in a fight over key evidence. The ruling gives former Sands China  Chief Executive Steve Jacobs new room to pursue his wrongful termination case, which has become a public fight over the leadership and business methods used by Sands Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is a prominent Republican Party donor, as well as one of the richest men in the world, who led U.S. casinos into Macau, a gambling market which dwarfs Las Vegas. Jacobs contends Adelson directed him to investigate officials in the Chinese gambling haven for information to use against them and that Adelson told him to hire a Macau government official in a potential conflict of U.S. anti-bribery law. The U.S. Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission and Nevada casino regulators have all launched investigations in the wake of Jacobs’ charges.

 2 Devils Diciples motorcycle gang members charged in homicide

Two members of a well-known motorcycle gang that has regional chapters in several states, including Alabama, are suspected of killing a fellow member in the Rosinton community, northeast of Robertsdale. Devils Diciples gang members Adam “Sandman” Mayton, 30, of Newbern and Fred “Shooter” Weiss, age unavailable, of Northport are charged with murder in the death of Samuel Dixson, 54, of Milton, Fla., the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday. The mobile home was a meeting place for the gang, which is known for participating in criminal activity, Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack said. Gang members are required to own Harley-Davidson motorcycles and go by a club name or nickname to conceal their identities, according to the FBI. The gang has been known to participate in crimes, including drug sales, thefts, selling stolen motorcycles, conducting illegal gambling businesses, robbery, extortion and violence.

NY man sentenced to 6 years for investment fraud

A western New York man has been sentenced to six years in prison for advertising and selling businesses online that didn’t exist. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Buffalo says James Rotterman also must pay back $4.5 million as part of a sentence handed down Friday. Prosecutors say the suburban Buffalo man convinced hundreds of investors to send him millions of dollars by advertising on an internet site. Investigators say he’d advertise non-existent merchant portfolio accounts which were to provide a cash flow to the investor, then supply victims with false profit and bank statements. Prosecutors have said he used some of the money to pay off large gambling debts.

 Union boss embezzled union funds for gambling

Ernest Milewski, the Wilkes-Barre union official who earlier this year pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds and the assets of a health care benefit program, used his sentencing hearing to come clean on the reason why he stole the money—to pay for an out-of-control gambling habit. Milewski was sentenced last month to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling more than a quarter-million dollars from the Northeast District Council of the United Food and Commercial Workers and its health plan. Milewski was president of the union and a trustee of its health and welfare benefit fund. Prosecutors alleged that the dual positions made it easier for Milewski to divert money to himself. His sentence calls for him to repay more than $257,000 in restitution.

 Public should see report on Franklin County losses

Franklin County knows it has a problem. More than $2.8 million went missing over a span of 20 years, and officials have no doubt about who they believe took the money. Dennis Huston, a former employee of the county’s public works department, is scheduled to go to trial in January on charges stemming from the missing money.  County officials say he used his position there to make fraudulent payments to a company no longer in business and pocketed the money himself to support cocaine and gambling habits. Warning flags had been raised about Huston to county officials before. The FBI investigated him and it was brought to light that he had been convicted of embezzlement at a prior job just before Franklin County hired him.  But it wasn’t until an audit of the department’s vendor list turned up continuing payments to a business no longer in operation that Huston was fired early this year and subsequently charged with the thefts.

 DOJ Coming After Full Tilt Poker Owners Assets

A new amendment has been filed by the United States Department of Justice that includes Howard Lederer, Ray Bitar, Rafe Furst and Chris Ferguson. The four men face forfeiture charges as part of the second amended complaint. The complaint states the financial history of distributions that were paid to the four owners of Full Tilt Poker, which comes to around $137 million. The complaint cites many statutes including the Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Wire Act and the Travel Act. The Department of Justice is calling the distribution of funds an ‘illegal enterprise’ and the distributions are now subject to forfeiture. The complaint states: “There is probable cause to believe that the Defendant Properties constitute, or are traceable to property used in illegal gambling businesses.” The amended complaint is seeking forfeiture amounts from all four owners in the following amounts:  Howard Lederer $42.5 million, Chris Ferguson $42 million, Ray Bitar  $40.8 million, Rafe Furst $11.7 million

SkyCity cheats use hi-tech gadgets

Global cheating syndicates trying to swindle millions of dollars with hi-tech gadgets are responsible for some of the hundreds of crimes committed at SkyCity each year. Sophisticated spy cameras and shuffling devices – hidden up shirt sleeves – are some of the tools of the trade for the professional crooks who travel the world to target wealthy casinos. Two casino gangs have been detected at SkyCity recently, including one VIP group who won $4.5 million. Suspicions were raised about the 13 people on a junket from Singapore when the security team at SkyCity noticed the baccarat player who cut the deck had a “very unusual” action, according to Department of Internal Affairs documents released under the Official Information Act.

31 arrests made after cockfighting ring bust

Police in Lawrence County busted a cock fighting ring on Sunday. Lawrence County Drug Task Force agents along with the assistance of Sheriff’s Deputies raided the property after conducting a month long investigation.  Mitchell said an undercover agent was able to witness illegal cock fighting, as well as illegal drug activity that was occurring on the property.  Mitchell said that agents also discovered several roosters that were dead or severely injured.  Charges included unlawful possession of a controlled substance, chicken fighting, gambling and cruelty to animals.

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


Are NFL Replacement Referees Cause for Gambling Corruption Concern?

This week’s Monday Night Football (MFN) game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers sparked intense debate over an incredibly controversial ending because of a series of terrible decisions by the replacement officials, the last of which changed the outcome of the game. These replacement NFL officials have not only created havoc for fans and those involved in the game, but they have also had an impact on sports betting.  The Orland Sentinel explains:

Las Vegas casinos think this weekend’s NFL games will be the highest-scoring ever thanks to the league’s replacement officials.

Oddsmakers say casinos are changing their expectations as interim referees add new variables to the game, changing its pace and the approaches taken by players and coaches.

Sports books make money by encouraging balanced betting action; they get it by using point spreads to account for the advantage one team has over another.

However, the replacement refs situation goes beyond simple betting line changes in Vegas and in some cases, refunds to gamblers.  As Casino Watch Focus has reported many times, the NFL takes a strong stance on gambling on their games.  The most vocal reason for the NFL to so staunchly oppose such gambling is the integrity of the game.  A recent decision by the NFL to begin working with casinos in advertising was criticized as being a sell-out position, but even then they attempted to bolster their opposition to sports gambling and their belief in maintaining the game’s integrity. Replacement referees represent a huge concern for the NFL as others are pointing out the possibility for outright corruption.  USA Today explains:

Gambling experts from sports-book operators to university professors say the NFL’s replacement referee saga has produced an environment ripe for corruption.

Officiating on a game-by-game basis as the referee lockout continues, replacements have more incentive to throw a game for cash, says NFL handicapper R.J. Bell of pregame.com.

“One hundred thousand dollars to fix a game is a lot of money to the regular officials, but if you compare that to their potential career earnings it’s a very small amount of money,” says Bell. “With the replacements, even $20,000 to fix a game is more than they stand to make from the NFL in their entire lives.

The NFL maintains that they have the proper methods in place to prevent corruption and game-fixing scandals, but as USA Today points out, the integrity of the game has already been compromised by the hiring of an non-objective official:

In an e-mail to USA TODAY Sports, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to address a perceived increased potential for corruption, but clarified that the league does “comprehensive” background checks on all officials, and they’re also subject to “random, unannounced” drug testing.

Yet the NFL’s background check didn’t stop a replacement official and proud Saints fan from being slated to officiate a Saints game last weekend before ESPN discovered the allegiance and the NFL pulled the plug on the assignment.

“That tells me they weren’t really screened out. These guys weren’t vetted,” says Dr. Timothy Fong, Co-Director of the Gambling Studies Program at UCLA, who interviewed former NBA referee Tim Donaghy in the wake of his corruption scandal. “I’d be fascinated to find out just how much time the NFL took to find out if these guys are at risk to be approached by organized crime.”

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


A Brief Look at Crime 9/10 – 9/16

Former employee pleads guilty to stealing from fitness guru Tony Little

A bookkeeper hired to look over the finances of television fitness personality Tony Little admitted on Monday that he did more than look. Mark Schreiber, 52, pleaded guilty to grand theft for dipping into Little’s business accounts and writing himself more than 150 checks. He was sentenced to three years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation. A lien will be placed against him for the amount he admitted to stealing, $658,456.28. He also must receive treatment for gambling addiction. Schreiber, a former controller for various companies founded by Little, was arrested last year by Pinellas Park police. He reportedly told officers at the time that he was heavily involved in online horse wagering, and Groger on Monday said it was clear that much of Schreiber’s money went to gambling.

 Secretary sentenced to 10 years for embezzling $500,000

A woman with a history of theft – including using tape and a weighted string to fish cash out of a lock box– was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for stealing more than $500,000 from a Downers Grove law firm where she worked as a secretary. Mary Marra, 44, of Woodridge pleaded guilty in June to two counts of theft in excess of $100,000 and one count of continuing a financial crimes enterprise, all Class 1 felonies, according to a news release from the DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin. Starting in December 2003, Marra embezzled money through a number of schemes that she was able to keep hidden from her employer for more than four years. She stole a total of $516,226.34, officials said. “According to the police report she admitted to the owner of the law firm that she had a gambling problem,” Sgt. Harry Andler of the Downers Grove Police Department said.

 Eighty people charged, 400 roosters seized in Melbourne cockfighting raid

Roosters “pumped full of steroids” were being readied to fight when detectives from the Melton CIU as well as representatives from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Sheriff’s office and RSPCA swooped the Neale Rd property in Rockbank, 29km from Melbourne, around 2.30pm. Eighty-six people who were present at the illegal fight were charged and summonsed to appear before the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court from October 26. More than $100,000 in cash planned for punting was also seized and Sheriff officers executed 134 warrants and impounded four cars. The owners of the property, which has been raided before, are still to be identified. The alleged “fight club” attracts illegal gambling, mostly from the Asian community. Cockfighting is illegal in Australia and it is also illegal to possess any fighting equipment used for cockfighting.

 Prison for woman who stole from law firm clients

An Akron woman is going to prison for stealing money from clients of the law firm where she worked and using the money to gamble. U.S. District Court Judge James S. Gwin on Friday sentenced Catherine Chenoweth, 56, to 30 months in prison and ordered her to pay $307,000 in restitution. Chenoweth, who pleaded guilty in June to wire fraud, worked as a paralegal in a Uniontown law firm. Her work for estate and probate clients gave Chenoweth access to their bank accounts and financial information. Between 2007 and 2010, Chenoweth arranged for clients to sign a number of blank checks, ostensibly for use by the law firm, and then made herself or her mother the payee, according to court papers. Chenoweth used the more than $300,000 stolen from five clients for her own expenses, including travel to West Virginia casinos, according to court papers.

 BNZ strikes deal over gambling fraud losses of $2.7 Million

A bank has reached a confidential settlement with a small family-owned business which lost more than $2.7 million to a fraudster who gambled the money at SkyCity casino. The Bank of New Zealand last week settled action taken against it in the High Court at Auckland by a small importing business. The victims have name suppression but the managing director said the case had been settled. He would not comment further, including on what payment might have been agreed between the parties. Lanuza stole more than $2.7 million from the company she worked for and gambled it away in the high rollers’ lounge. Over a six-year period, she wrote out multiple fraudulent cheques worth $784,363 drawn on the account of her employer, many of which were cashed at the bank’s casino branch.

 Woman sentenced after stealing money from bank

More than $125,000 was stolen from Parkvale Bank customers in Wintersville, and according to the woman convicted, it was all due to a gambling problem. Jan Manson, who pleaded guilty to the crime, worked at the bank as a manager. She told the court Friday that her gambling addiction led her to steal the money. “It went on for a long period of time. She knew the particular customers. Our disappointment and frustration with her is she would steal from elderly customers who she thought would be least likely to discover what she was doing,” said Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin. According to Hanlin, the law recently changed, so Manson could not legally go to prison. Instead, she will spend six months in the Eastern Ohio Correctional Center, followed by five years on probation. During that time, Manson is not permitted to gamble, or she could face jail time.

 Edinboro man charged with taking more than $500K

A borough man in charge of handling the money at a beer distributor has been charged with stealing more than $500,000 from the business over three years. Robert J. Stablein, 60, turned himself in to Edinboro police on Thursday morning and was later arraigned before Edinboro District Judge Denise Stuck-Lewis on three felony counts each of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds. Beuchert said Stablein also admitted to inflating or fabricating keg returns as one method to hide the missing money. “The defendant indicated that he used the money to fund his gambling habit and had no idea as to the amount in which he had taken,” Beuchert wrote in the affidavit.

Psychiatric report: Murder suspect Moaz fit to stand trial

Daniel Maoz, the 28-year-old lawyer accused of murdering his parents last August, is mentally fit to stand trial, according to a report from the Jerusalem District Psychiatric Committee. On Tuesday, the Chief Judge Tzvi Segal will hear the recommendations from the committee at the Jerusalem District Court in one of the final days of the Maoz trial. A copy of the report obtained by Channel 10 said that Maoz was fit to stand trial and is responsible for his actions. This means that if Maoz is found guilty of the murders he cannot plead insanity. The state attorney Yuval Kaplinsky has highlighted Maoz’s gambling addiction, his massive gambling debts, his suspicious Google searches for “inheritance after murder,” and his rapidly changing versions of the events leading up to his parents’ murder.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 9/03 – 9/09

DOJ targets banks, casinos in new money laundering offensive

The Department of Justice is shifting its sights to a new offensive in combating money laundering: bringing criminal charges against banks and other financial institutions for weak compliance systems that fail to catch illicit money flows. Even while the department’s money-laundering unit is wrapping up a series of blockbuster cases involving sanctions-busting transactions routedthrough some of Europe’s biggest banks, it has set its sights on the next front.  One of the largest casino companies, Las Vegas Sands, run by magnate Sheldon Adelson, is also under investigation by the Department of Justice for potential violations of anti-money laundering laws, according to a source familiar with the matter.

 Man, 31, killed in Temple Terrace shooting after casino trip

A 31-year-old man was shot dead early Tuesday at an apartment complex where he was staying with family after a night at a casino. Shots rang out in the first-floor corridor. Platt was wounded once and collapsed. The gunman ran off, and Platt’s cousin called 911. Authorities also have not released a description of the gunman, said Temple Terrace police spokesman Michael Dunn. It is unknown whether the gunman was targeting the cousins, attempting a robbery or had followed them from the casino. A family member said Platt had spent the evening at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

 Man pleads guilty to role in shooting death of Brinks guard at Calder race track

A Miami Gardens man pleaded guilty Thursday to his role in the August 2011 robbery and shooting death of a Brinks guard at the Calder Race Track and Casino on the border of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, according to federal court records. Reginald Mitchell, 27, a former security employee at the track and casino, pleaded guilty to robbery conspiracy, interfering with commerce, and possession of a firearm resulting in death during a crime of violence, in federal court in Miami. Another man, Vladimir Louissant, 34, of Pembroke Pines, is charged with firing the fatal shot at the guard, Alvaro Lopez Ramos.

 Death in Vegas sends shockwaves Down Under

The mysterious death of a young footballer outside a Las Vegas casino has cast a shadow over the Australian Football League finals series and prompted soul-searching among clubs about their responsibilities for players. The body of John McCarthy, a 22-year-old midfielder for Port Adelaide Power, was found on the driveway of the Flamingo hotel early on Sunday morning. McCarthy had become separated from a group of team mates partying in the Nevadan gambling mecca, a popular holiday destination for Australian Rules players keen to let their hair down after a bruising season of the indigenous football code.

 Retired Va. reservist faces prison time

A retired Virginia Air National Guard officer faces prison time for forging death certificates so she could collect life insurance benefits. Vickie T. Armes will be sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Richmond. Armes collected more than $800,000 from Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance by falsely claiming both her own death and her husband’s. According to court papers, she squandered the money on Internet gambling. She pleaded guilty to stealing government funds. Armes’ attorney cites the woman’s gambling addiction in asking for a lenient sentence. However, prosecutors say they have new evidence showing Armes pulled the same scam against another insurance company before the claimed onset of a gambling addiction.

 Phila. man, 46, could be executed Oct. 3

BEFORE RULING on whether to stay the Oct. 3 execution of Terrance Williams, a Philadelphia judge on Monday asked Williams’ attorneys to give her more information about evidence allegedly kept from the jury that convicted him. Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina gave the defense team until Thursday to turn over the information. Williams, 46, of Philadelphia, is in line to become the first person executed in Pennsylvania since 1999 for murdering Amos Norwood, 56, in 1984. He lured the man to a cemetery, beat him to death with a tire iron and set his body on fire with gasoline. Williams stole his victim’s cash, credit cards, a calling card and his car and drove with friends to Atlantic City to gamble, Deputy District Attorney Ron Eisenberg told Sarmina.

 What The US Government Alleges Howard Lederer Did With The Full Tilt Poker Player Funds

Distributions to Full Tilt Owners, Including the FTP Insiders 124: Rather than protect player funds as promised, Full Tilt Poker distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to its owners. Beginning in April 2007 and continuing through April 2011, Tiltware LLC’s Board of Directors, to wit, the FTP Insider Defendants, authorized the distribution of approximately $443,860,530 to the owners of Tiltware LLC, including themselves, further promoting and facilitating the ongoing illegal operation of Full Tilt Poker during this time period. Many of the distribution payments were transferred from Full Tilt Poker directly to bank accounts the professional poker players affiliated with Full Tilt Poker and other owners had established in Switzerland and other foreign countries.

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


London Olympics’ gambling numbers set records and top 100 million

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of the International Olympic Committee to minimize gambling on the games.  Protecting the integrity of the games is key in a sports world that is under constant scrutiny for game fixing due to huge gambling markets.  The first move of this games IOC was to ban athletes from gambling on the games. The IOC knew that their action would only do so much, especially considering how prevalent online gambling is in the host town of London. Now that both Olympic Games have come to a close, the final gambling numbers are in.  An online source reports:

The final tallies are out and the big winners at this year’s London Olympics was not the athletes but rather the online bookmakers.

An estimated £80-100 Million is believed to have been wagered on the London Olympics, according to Sporting Index.  Initial forecasts called for somewhere between £20-£40m. Ladbrokes forecasts the industry will have taken in almost £80m for the entire two week period, compared with £4m from the Beijing Games in 2008.

It was not immediately clear as to how the books performed in terms of wins/losses, however, football betting specifically resulted in big wins for the bookmakers, especially with Mexico’s shocking gold medal victory against heavily favored Brasil.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 8/27 – 9/02

FBI Files on Joe Paterno Reveals Fear of Organized Crime and Gambling Threats

FBI files on Penn State’s long time former football coach, the late Joe Paterno, make no mention of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who was sentenced in a child abuse case this summer.  They do, however, point to the theory that organized criminal factions with gambling interests may have been threatening the head coach and his staff during the late 1970’s and early 80’s via a series of letters.  “It now appears to [Paterno], the purpose of letters is to disrupt his football team,” an FBI memo obtained by the Washington Times said.“[Gamblers] may be using this technique to benefit themselves in future point-spread betting involving PSU and opponents.”

 Authorities destroy more than 750 slot machines seized in illegal casinos

The Federal Agency for State Property Management has destroyed over 750 slot machines seized from illegal casinos in six oblasts in August, the agency reported on Monday. Law enforcement authorities have seized more equipment as they are now working actively to liquidate illegal gambling institutions, according to Mikhail Kantin, who heads the agency department responsible for property seized by the state. Cooperation between the police, the judicial authorities and the property agency is also improving, he said. Court decisions more frequently contain orders on the confiscation and utilization of equipment used for criminal activity, and this had substantially accelerated the destruction, he noted.

 Man sentenced for $4M in bogus insurance charges

A surgical technologist who claimed a gambling addiction led him to bill insurance companies for more than $4 million in bogus charges, sometimes falsely claiming to be a doctor, was sentenced Friday to one year in jail. An attorney for Kenneth R. Welling, 45, of Lake Forest Park, had asked the judge to impose no jail time, saying that Welling was a first-time offender and had accepted responsibility for his crimes. Attorney Collette Tvedt claimed her client deserved mercy because he had already “lost” his wife due to his financial crimes and gambling addiction, and could pay restitution faster if he were able to work. Welling apologized to the judge, his family and others, saying a year of intensive therapy had shown him “it was my gambling addiction fueling my illegal behavior.”

 Alabama Casino Lobbyist, Legislator Head to Prison for Gambling Vote Selling Scheme

A casino lobbyist and a former legislator who pleaded guilty in Alabama’s gambling corruption case are now in federal prison. A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons said lobbyist Jarrod Massey reported Monday to the minimum-security prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. Former state Rep. Terry Spicer of Elba reported to the minimum-security prison camp in Marion, Ill. Massey declined an interview with The Associated Press before heading to prison, but he said in a Facebook posting that he was grateful to be serving his sentence close to his family in Montgomery. Massey has a sentence of five years and five months for offering bribes to legislators. Spicer has a sentence of four years and nine months for accepting bribes.

 Las Vegas Sands Allegedly Allowed Organized Crime Figure To Transfer Gambling Credit To Macau

Las Vegas Sands allowed a man identified by the U.S. Senate as an organized crime figure to move a $100,000 gambling credit from a Las Vegas casino to one of its Macau casinos, according to documents that emerged in the wake of a lawsuit filed by a former Sands employee.  The cooperation with an alleged crime boss could draw the attention of Nevada gambling regulators, who are charged with stopping casinos from bringing “disrepute” on the state, at a time when Sands is the focus of several government investigations.  Sands, controlled by billionaire and prominent Republican party donor Sheldon Adelson, is under investigation by U.S. and Nevada regulators for payments that raised bribery concerns under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Evidence in a wrongful termination lawsuit by a former Sands China chief executive spurred the probes.

 Gambler Fakes Kidnapping To Pay Debt

A 28-year-old man faked his kidnapping to repay a gambling debt. His worried mother then paid a 100,000 THB ransom. However, police became suspicious after not finding any evidence of a kidnapper. Eventually the man confessed that he faked his kidnapping to force his family to help him pay the debt. He said he was being threatened every day by the people whom he owed the money. Previously Mr. Chalong had brought his car to pawn to repay the debt, but the money still wasn’t enough. So he had to lie to force his family and friends to find money to help him, because he had no choice.

 Ormond Ponzi scheme operator must pay $2.2 million

A 57-year-old man already convicted of running a million-dollar Ponzi scheme will get more time and has been ordered to pay his victims $2.2 million. Ormond Beach businessman Tomas Loebel pleaded no contest to more than a dozen securities fraud charges, according to a State Attorney’s Office news release.  Circuit Court Judge R. Michael Hutcheson on Wednesday sentenced Loebel to 40 months in prison, to run at the same time as his current sentence. After he’s released, he’ll serve 15 years probation.  A judge in March had already sentenced him to 15 years in prison for cheating his well-heeled friends out of more than $1 million by encouraging them to invest in a company called “The Rose Garden” that didn’t exist.

 MORENO VALLEY: Former water company chief due in court

The former general manager of a shareholder-owned water company in Moreno Valley is due in court Thursday, Aug. 30 to face sentencing on her guilty pleas to  grand theft, identity theft and tax evasion.  Investigators said Debra Sutton, 55,  stole $784,000 of  the Box Springs Mutual Water Co.’s  money and used it for luxury cruises and gambling. Sutton once headed the company, a private nonprofit agency that provides water to about 3,300 people in the Edgemont community on Moreno Valley’s west side.  In March, dozens of Box Springs shareholders, furious over allegations of embezzlement and lax oversight, ousted the company’s former board of directors.  Sutton was charged the next day.

 Accountant Pleads Guilty to Stealing $400k from Client

An accountant who was working for an East Hampton firm pleaded guilty in Suffolk County Criminal Court on Aug. 23 to embezzling slightly more than $400,000 from an elderly client whom she was supposed to be helping to pay bills, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.  Sheila Parrish-Miles, 54, of Riverhead, had recently been fired from the firm, when it was discovered she had been writing checks from the elderly man’s account, endorsing and depositing them into her own account, the DA’s office said. “Ms. Parrish Miles expressed extreme regret for the situation,” said her attorney Colin Astarita, of Southampton. “She had indicated in court that the money was spent on online gambling sites and she has sought therapy for the gambling addiction,” he said.

 Man Charged in $648K Insurance Scam

An insurance company president faces up to 15 years in prison after police charged him with stealing more than $648,000 in insurance premiums, according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s office. An investigation by two agencies produced evidence that Joseph Koch, 54 of Jericho, had spent the money on personal expenses, including car, mortgage, and country club bills, said the DA’s office. Rice’s office said the stolen money was used for Koch’s own expenses, including payments on a Mercedes-Benz, mortgage bills, gambling trips, country club membership fees, and income taxes. “Mr. Koch’s theft left his client without coverage and facing potentially serious liability issues, but all he cared about was living the high life on somebody else’s dime,” said Rice. “It’s unimaginable that he thought he could get away with so brazenly flaunting the theft of more than a half million dollars.”

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