A Brief Look at Crime 9/24 – 9/30

Talented young footballer jumped to his death after racking up online gambling debts

A promising young football player jumped to his death from 120ft high viaduct after racking up gambling debts online. Talented Adam Billing, 27, from Liskeard, near Plymouth had been a youth team player with Plymouth Argyle FC but failed to make it as a professional after suffering a serious knee injury. He threw himself from the 120ft high Moorswater viaduct in Liskeard, east Cornwall, in April after spiraling into debt through an online gambling addiction.

In a statement he said: ‘For whatever reason Adam had been drawn into a cycle of gambling that became more and more costly to him and he felt he couldn’t approach me or anyone else for help.’ Mother Karen and father Bill said: ‘It is our opinion that Adam turned to online gambling after a number of personal circumstances left him at a low ebb and made him vulnerable to the lure of online gambling. Mrs Billing went on to warn others about online gambling. ‘Vast amounts of money can be easily lost, just by clicking a button.  Those who gamble get embroiled, not acknowledging that they are losing real money,’ she said.

 Teen dies after dice-game robbery in Jacksonville

Jacksonville authorities say a teen died after being shot during a robbery attempt as he placed a dice game. The Florida Times Union reports that relatives of the victim reported him being 16 years old. He has not yet been identified.  Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Shawn Coarsey says the teen was with friends playing the gambling game Saturday night when two males approached them. The suspects shot and robbed the group, then took off.  Police have not yet made any arrests. The teen was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

 Three convicted in point-shaving scandal

The three main defendants in USD basketball’s federal point shaving scandal have pled guilty to various charges, including bribing star player Brandon Johnson, according to U-T San Diego. Steve Goria, Richard Garmo and Paul Tweni quietly pled guilty to bribing Johnson to shave points from the Toreros’ score in a February 2010 basketball game, according to U-T San Diego. These three guilty pleas bring the total number to six, in the indictment that involves a grand total of 10 people, including former players Johnson and Brandon Dowdy as well as former assistant coach Thaddeus “TJ” Brown. The FBI believes that Brown was the liaison between the gamblers and the players charged. After an anonymous informant came forward with information about Goria’s illegal gambling operations, the case evolved into an investigation into point shaving, with the indictments following a year later.

 Slain woman’s husband indicted on gambling counts

An Oklahoma City man has been indicted along with eight other people and one business for an alleged illegal gambling operation and money laundering in Oklahoma City. The Mitchell’s have previously denied any wrongdoing.  The indictment alleges the defendants were members of an illegal gambling operation that organized high-stakes poker games, took wagers on sporting events and laundered the proceeds. The gambling allegations surfaced after Teddy Mitchell’s wife — Julie Mitchell— was found beaten to death in the couple’s Oklahoma City home in 2010.

 Ex-chamber executive pleads guilty to theft

JOPLIN, Mo. — Kim Lester, the former finance chairwoman for the Boomtown Days Festival who was employed as vice president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, pleaded guilty Monday to stealing money from the festival’s bank account. Lester, 54, 5848 Eland Road, paid $40,000 in restitution, which is about the amount she told investigators she had taken from the festival accounts before the discrepancy was discovered in December 2010. Lester told investigators that she used the money to fund a gambling addiction. She has made no public comment during the course of the investigation or the court proceedings.

 Man admits stealing $100K in copper from Cape Canaveral AFS

A 24-year-old Merritt Island man faces federal prison after pleading guilty to charges he and his stepfather stole $100,000 in copper from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Federal prosecutors said the pair gained access to the base with 49-year-old James Allen Lee using a temporary contractor access badge issued by his employer between November 2010 and April 2011.  Phillip Joseph Vogt III, who investigators said hid beneath a blanket in the bed of a pickup truck as Lee drove onto the base, faces up to 10 years in federal prison for theft of government property, according to the U.S. States Attorney’s Middle District office in Orlando. Vogt and co-defendant  Lee confessed removing large amounts of copper wire from reels in a storage area, later scrapping it for cash. After being confronted by investigators, Lee said he spent all the money on “gambling and drinking,” according to federal court documents.

Forest woman sentenced for stealing from elderly at bank

A former branch manager of a local bank who pleaded guilty in June, was sentenced this morning in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Lynchburg to a charge of embezzlement. Sheila Marie Wright, 50, of Forest, Va., previously waived her right to be indicted and pled guilty to one count of obtaining monies under the custody and control of financial institutions by means of false and fraudulent pretenses. This morning in District Court, Wright was sentenced to 33 months of federal incarceration and five years of supervised release thereafter. Wright also agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $364,894.76 to her victims.  “Wright abused her position at the bank to prey on unsuspecting victims, selfishly using their hard-earned savings to perpetuate her gambling activities.  Unfortunately crimes such as these occur too often and destroy the public’s confidence,” said Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Richmond Division. “The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate and work with the USAO to bring these criminals to justice.”

 Pine Grove woman admits stealing $211,526 from sportsmen’s group

Stacy M. Kassab admitted Wednesday in Schuylkill County Court that from January 2008 until October 2011, she stole more than $200,000 from a Pine Grove area sportsmen’s group. Kassab, 38, of Pine Grove, did not change expression as she pleaded guilty to theft, receiving stolen property and theft by failure to make required disposition. Police said at the time of Kassab’s arrest that she admitted stealing the money in order to pay personal expenses and support her gambling habit.

 Halfway Home Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

A former bookkeeper at a shelter for women coming out of prison — a woman who herself had been helped by the center after getting out of prison for embezzlement — pleads guilty to embezzling $160,000 from the shelter. Jean Kilroy-Bensinger, 49, faces up to 15 years in prison, after admitting she stole the money from the Center for Women in Transition to support her gambling habit at the River City Casino. The Center’s Director, Robert Wessels, asked Judge David Dowd to give Bensinger the maximum penalty, when she is sentenced later this fall. “In my opinion, somebody with this type of criminal background, who would abuse the position of trust of an organization like this that wanted nothing but to help this woman, I believe that she should get the maximum for this charge,” Joyce said.

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

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