A Brief Look at Crime 10/08 – 10/14

Phony South Florida religious group defrauds $4 million from 1,400 immigrants

Four South Floridians posed as representatives of a Christian organization to rip off $4 million from vulnerable immigrants.  Seamens Harvest Ministries operated out of a storefront in a Plantation strip mall, claiming to file so-called religious worker immigration applications for undocumented residents in exchange forlarge cash “donations.”  More than 1,400 victims thought they would wind up with coveted green cards that would allow them to work legally.  The defendants capitalized on immigrants’ hopes by using religion to trick them into believing the fraudsters had genuine intentions, prosecutors said.  “The defendants lined their pockets for more than five years, but not a single alien obtained their green card,” prosecutor Timothy Cole said. Alers, Caceres and Dorado often went to a local casino “to gamble the money (often in amounts exceeding $10,000) extracted from the victims,” prosecutors wrote.

Arrests made in 2 recent Jacksonville shootings

Arrests have been made in the killing of a teenager and an attempted murder outside a high school football game, Jacksonville police said Monday. A warrant has been issued in a third case, Saturday’s slaying at a Jacksonville club. On Sept. 22 Ranod McKann, 16, was talking with a 40-year-old dice game winner hours after the game outside an Art Museum Drive apartment complex when they were robbed by two other men, police said Monday. McKann was shot following the robbery. Lt. Rob Schoonover said McKann was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was the only one wounded. An earlier report by police that McKann was involved in the dice game was incorrect. Police said a third man, Tyrone Marquis Taylor, 20, is being sought on a murder charge and was identified as one of the gamblers that morning. Schoonover said the robbery may have been related to the gambling loss. On Sept. 25 police recovered the stolen getaway car on West Lincoln Court. Beside a nearby garbage bin, they found the .357-Magnum handgun used to kill McKann.

 Woman admits to skimming from public schools

A former accounts payable clerk is accused of stealing more than $200,000 from the La Crescent-Hokah public schools to fuel a gambling habit. Mary Chris Turner of Onalaska admitted to taking money for up to a decade, telling police she spent it on pull tabs, bingo and at casinos, according to a criminal complaint. Turner, 59, was charged Thursday in Houston County District Court with felony theft, swindle, embezzlement of public funds and credit card fraud. According to the complaint, district officials discovered missing checks during an annual audit. They then realized someone had used the district Visa card to make cash withdrawals and doctored the credit card statement in a cover-up.  Officials suspected Turner, who was responsible for keeping track of credit card use. According to the complaint, they said she was protective of the cards and worried about other employees using them for large purchases.

 Ex-Head Of Waterbury Boys, Girls Club Sent To Prison For More Than 4 Years For Embezzling

For most of his life Robert Generali has been known as “Big Rob,” a fitting nickname for a man well over 6 feet tall, but on Friday a federal judge called him a “common thief” before ignoring federal guidelines and sentencing him to 57 months in prison for embezzling more than $400,000 from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Waterbury. “In the deepest, most insidious sense, the children are the victims here,” U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Bryant said. “Will they ever trust authority figures again, or will they see them all like they now see ‘Big Rob’?” Generali first came under investigation of federal authorities in early 2010 when they learned he had won a $100,000 Super Bowl pool in 2008 at Roma’s Restaurant and never claimed it on his tax returns. As they further investigated his financial dealings they discovered Generali was using an unauthorized credit card account he opened in the club’s name for his personal use and depositing club money to a bank account that he used for personal expenses.

 44 arrested in $1b money laundering ring

The Israel Police today announced that it has uncovered a gambling and money laundering ring which had a turnover of over $1 billion over the past two years. The police said that the ring was a new financing channel for many criminals, which replaced the financing from Trade Bank, before it crashed.  In pre-dawn raids, the police arrested 44 persons suspected of managing the gambling and money laundering ring. The arrests were made in Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, Holon, Rishon LeZion, and other cities.  The arrests were made on the basis of intelligence about tens of millions of dollars obtained through illegal gambling operations by criminal gangs in central Israel.

 Calif. man gets prison in Bellagio chip heist

A California man was sentenced Wednesday to two to five years in a Nevada prison for his role in a botched grab-and-run casino chip heist last May at the Bellagio resort on the Las Vegas Strip.  Michael Quinn Belton, 25, of Nuevo, Calif., apologized in court and gave Clark County District Court Judge Kathleen Delaney a letter saying he wanted to enter the military and turn his life around.  “I’m sorry about what I did,” Belton said in a raspy voice as he stood shackled to other jail inmates in the courtroom. “It was poor judgment on my part.” Prosecutor Danae Adams said Belton and the other would-be robber wore wigs and sunglasses into the Bellagio, and the other man sprayed a pepper spray-type substance at a blackjack dealer and player before Belton snatched $115,000 worth of chips and tried to run.

 Feds say couple stole $2.5 million from casino nightclubs

The controller and chief financial officer for an entertainment group that owns and operates restaurants and nightclubs at Foxwoods Resort Casino has been charged, along with her husband, with embezzling more than $2.5 million from the company.  The government alleges that Lynn A. Scheufler, 34, and Craig L. Galligan, 40, used $1.4 million in embezzled funds to gamble at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. They were arrested Wednesday at their Woodstock home, according to U.S. Attorney David B. Fein. They later were presented in federal court in Hartford and released on bond. “We are deeply disappointed by this incident, and are working hand in hand with both the Internal Revenue Service and United States Attorney’s Office as they uncover all the facts surrounding this elaborate scheme. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation we are unable to provide further comment at this time.”

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