Monthly Archives: December 2012

UPDATE: Newly Established Florida Senate Gaming Committee to Conduct 2 Year Gambling Study Delaying Slot Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing attempts to legalize gambling in Florida including recent reports regarding slot machine expansion that was recently taken to a vote of the people. With so much ongoing debate, The Florida Current is reporting that the Senate has established a new gambling committee:

A bill to bring large casinos to South Florida drew the glitzy and glamorous headlines this year, but ultimately went bust under the weight of heavy lobbying by entrenched and competing interests.

Now, after a legislative session punctuated by a heated fight between and among the Central Florida hospitality industry led by Walt Disney World, large-scale casino conglomerates, pari-mutuels, Seminole Indian casinos, social conservatives opposed to new gaming and Internet sweepstakes café operators, Florida’s gambling fight is likely to simmer in 2013.

That’s because new Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, created a new Senate Gaming Committee that will take a comprehensive look at all of Florida’s gaming laws before moving forward with major legislation such as the casino bill.

This newly established committee is now considering a gambling study be commissioned before any serious legislation is moved forward:

The head of a new Senate gaming committee said Friday his panel wants to study the future of Florida gambling for up to two years before holding public hearings in cities such as Miami, Orlando and Tampa.

The extensive review could delay when and if the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track will receive slot machines. Lee County residents approved a referendum in November to add slot machines at the Bonita Springs dog track.

The Legislature, however, must pass a bill allowing slots in Lee before machines can be installed. Attorney General Pam Bondi ruled in January local slots referendums such as Lee’s were illegitimate and gambling in the state can only expand through a change in state law.

Sen. Garrett Richter, a Naples Republican who also serves as president pro tem, spoke at an Estero community leaders meeting Friday. The panel wants to do a thorough economic analysis on gaming before taking a position.

It appears the real motivation is to make sure slot expansion doesn’t cannibalize any potential mega resort casinos or other gambling opportunities. The online article continues:

“The first thing I need to understand is the complete economic impact of all gambling in the state of Florida,” Richter said. “There are a number of interests here. There are the destination casinos that want to come to Florida, there is the jai alai, there is the pari-mutuel facilities that want slot machines, Internet cafes, the Seminole Indians and even McDonald’s and Coca Cola.”

Richter, who hasn’t taken a position on slot machines, said he’s in listening mode.

“There are some major challenges,” Richter said about gaming in the state. “I think the financial impact will have some impact but that’s not all nine yards. It’s like the money that goes to education in the (Florida) lottery. Does all the money get there?”

After studying the various gaming interests, Richter said he’d like to have two to four hearings around the state in the same way state senators had a listening tour before redistricting.

As these committees consider what legislation to advance, its important that they consider all perspectives, not just the economic potential or decline of a particular sector. Casino Watch Focus has reported on the highly addictive nature of slot machines. Natasha Shull, a cultural anthropologist and associate professor in MIT’s Program on Science, Technology and Society, has spent the last 15 years researching and studding the slot machines. Her book, Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegasgives startling accounts of how these machines are designed to addict people in terrible ways. She explains in page 35 of her book:

It was not uncommon, in my interviews with casino slot floor managers, to hear of machine gamblers so absorbed in play that they were oblivious to the rising flood waters at their feet or smoke and fire alarms that blared at deafening levels. As the casino surveillance tapes showed, the actively can keep a group of gamblers unaware of their immediate surrounding, each other, and even a dying man at their feet. Mollie witnessed this extreme of unawareness one night as she searched the aisles of a casino for a machine to play and came upon a small crowd gathered around a man lying on the floor between a row of machines. “He’d had a heart attack and the paramedics were getting him with those shocker things,” she recalled. “Everyone walking by was looking at him, but I watching the woman on the dollar slot machine. She was staring right at the screen and never missed a beat. She played right through it all, she never stopped.”

This type of addiction and harm to a community cannot be ascertained through such economic studies. Please read Natasha’s book and please urge your legislators to vote against gambling expansion, especially expansion that involves these machines that are designed for extreme addiction.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/24 – 12/30

47 cited at cockfight; 60 birds and $100,000 confiscated

A major raid on a cockfight in East Compton led to the detaining of 47 people, the confiscation of about $100,000 in bets and the discovery of nearly 60 birds Saturday morning, authorities said. “It was a high-stakes cockfight,” said Aaron Reyes, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control. He said it was probably the largest one busted in Los Angeles County in several years. Several other birds were already dead in the backyard of the house in the 14600 block of Castlegate Avenue and eight others later had to be euthanized because of bad wounds suffered in the fights, according to Reyes. The investigation into the fight and ownership of the house is to continue, and further charges — including felony gambling ones — could result.

 Blackjack dealer stabbed by co-worker at Bellagio

A Bellagio blackjack dealer suffered deep cuts to her face after a colleague stabbed her while the two were inside a casino pit Friday night, officials said Saturday. It was the second violent incident in a  week inside a high-profile resort  on the Strip, the other being a murder-suicide at the Excalibur last weekend. Officer Marcus Martin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department, said the female victim, whose identity had not been released, was taken to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where she was being treated for her wounds. Her condition wasn’t immediately known. Brenda J. Stokes, 50, was arrested in connection with the stabbing, and was being held at the Clark County Detention Center on a variety of charges – burglary; battery with a deadly weapon; battery with use of a deadly weapon with substantial bodily harm, and mayhem.

 Woman who gambled away elderly man’s savings pleads guilty

A woman accused of gambling away the life savings of an elderly Rogersville man she was caring for pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of theft over $60,000 in exchange for an eight-year sentence. According to the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office, Charlotte Ann Hayes, 52, formerly of Rogersville, had been given power of attorney for Billy Davis of Rogersville while she was serving as Davis’ caretaker. Hayes was the ex-wife of one of Davis’ friends. The friend had worked for Davis as a handyman, and in recent years the friend had started helping Davis in his household. The HCSO received a tip from one of Davis’ family members in August of 2009 that Hayes was spending Davis’ life savings for her own use and not for the welfare and betterment of Davis. The amount was estimated by detectives in 2010 in excess of $100,000. Upon being questioned, Hayes admitted to taking funds from Davis to spend on a gambling habit, credit card bills, and assisting her family members with their bills. Hayes reportedly admitted to gambling with Davis’ money at the casino in Cherokee, N.C.

 Jewelry store employee gets year sentence for stealing $116,000

The province’s top court has overturned a conditional sentence handed down to an employee at a jewelry store in Lethbridge last May, for stealing $116,000 worth of property and pawning it off, and sent him to jail for a year. In its written decision released on Friday, the Alberta Court of Appeal said its frequent direction in such embezzlement cases a term of imprisonment is required, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Such as not the case for Juan Jose Calero-Perez, 23, as the judge overemphasized the importance of rehabilitation, treated his gambling addiction as mitigating and placed too much weight on his lack of record. The court also placed Calero-Perez on probation for two years after his release, during which he must take counselling and treatment as directed by his probation officer. He is also prohibited from any type of gambling or game of chance and cannot enter any casino, bingo hall or other place where gambling takes place.

 Vegas police investigate discovery of girl’s body

Police investigating the week-old disappearance of a 10-year-old Las Vegas girl were at the scene on Thursday of the discovery of a child’s body in an undeveloped housing tract in North Las Vegas.  Authorities didn’t immediately know if the body belonged to Jade Morris, Las Vegas police homicide Capt. Chris Jones said.  However, Jones also said: “I can tell you that the likelihood is that this is our victim.”  A passer-by called 911 about noon about a girl’s body in a remote area near Dorrell Lane and North 5th Street, North Las Vegas police said. That’s a short distance from the northern Las Vegas beltway and about 10 miles from downtown Las Vegas.  Jade was last seen by her family at about 5 p.m. last Friday with Brenda Stokes, police said. Stokes was later arrested after she was accused of slashing a co-worker with razor blades at the Bellagio resort casino. Stokes, 50, is now in jail.

 Jericho man scammed school out of millions

A Jericho man who federal authorities said stole more than $2 million from a South Korean school to pay for a lavish lifestyle that included fancy cars and gambling trips to Las Vegas has been arrested and charged with fraud.  Federal prosecutors Thursday said William R. Cosme, 46, also known as William R. Cosmo, conned the head of the school into giving him $5.5 million. In exchange, Cosme promised to invest the money, then use the earnings to lend the school $55 million so it could expand and build a new school. “Under the guise of investing their money, he ‘invested’ in fast cars and Vegas vacations for himself, playing fast and loose with the school’s money,” said George Venizelos, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office.

 Pickering minor hockey loses $725K to treasurer ‘with gambling bug’

Following the largest ever theft from a children’s hockey league in Canada, a former treasurer of the Pickering Hockey Association has been ordered by a judge to repay $725,000 in stolen money. Steve Scott’s embezzlement has stunned the PHA’s 400 volunteers, who spend weekends and evenings running minor hockey programs for 1,100 kids. “I never thought I’d see the day when something like this would happen in minor hockey,” said association president Don Linthwaite. “It brings a sense of disappointment and heartache for the people that do it for the right reasons. I don’t know how somebody could do it. How do you do that?” In a later meeting with the board, Scott resigned and admitted that he had been taking money from the PHA for 11 or 12 years, forging the signatures of association signing officers on cheques and gambling with the money, the court record states.

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

UPDATE: Genting Group Drops Initiative Petition Efforts, Focusing on Mega Casinos through Legislature Instead

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing attempts of Genting Group to legalize full scale, Vegas-type destination resort casinos.  Their most recent attempt has been to spend a million dollars to get an initiative petition approved to take to the people of Florida.  Once there, they would spend millions to persuade the voters to approve their casinos.  Now, The Miami Herald is reporting that they are abandoning those plans to try again directly with the legislators:

In a major shift in strategy, the Genting Group, the Malaysian-based casino giant, told legislative leaders this week that it will stop a petition drive to get a casino amendment on the 2014 ballot, leaving it to lawmakers to decide the future of gambling in Florida.

“We are not going forward with a petition drive effort and there have not been any petitions gathered,’’ said Brian Ballard, a lobbyist for Genting, after meeting with House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz. “The approach the Legislature is taking with this — a thoughtful analysis — we think makes absolute sense and we want to be a constructive player in it.”

Genting, which bought the Miami Herald site in 2011 to build a destination resort and casino complex, led a failed effort earlier this year to bring Las Vegas-style casinos to Florida. The measure never made it out of a House committee and was loaded down with provisions in the Senate before it was declared dead.

 It appears their new strategy is to work with the legislature to craft legislation that will meet everyone’s needs by 2014.  The Miami Herald continues:

With Weatherford and Gaetz representing new leadership in the Republican-majority Legislature, Genting is taking a less aggressive strategy in Tallahassee.

Weatherford and Gaetz plan to put gaming regulation on center stage in the next two years, spending the 2013 session examining options and waiting until 2014 to pass substantial legislation. Their plans also include renegotiating — a year earlier than scheduled — the revenue-sharing compact with the Seminole Tribe, which now brings the state $233 million a year.

“We currently have a lot of gambling in the state of Florida, but we have to take a very holistic view,” said Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican, earlier this year. “There needs to be clarity and direction as to where the state is going,” he added, and the tribal compact will “very likely” be part of that.

 The compact with the Seminole Tribe plays a major role in the process and will likely be part of the strategy:

A pivotal player in the debate will be the Broward-based Seminole Tribe, owner of the Hard Rock Casinos in Hollywood and Tampa, and five other casinos in Florida. Its agreement with the state gives the Seminoles the exclusive right to offer blackjack and other table games in Miami-Dade and Broward counties through 2015 in exchange for annual payments to state and local governments. Legislators imposed the expiration date when they ratified the compact in 2010 to give the state time to take a comprehensive look at Florida’s gambling laws.

Genting also hopes to still break ground on a resort complex despite what happens on the gambling front.  That will, of course, be the foothold they need should they find a future gambling expansion avenue:

Genting said Thursday that regardless of whether Florida approves casinos it continues to move forward with plans to build a resort complex that includes residential, retail and hotels on land now occupied by the Miami Herald Building near downtown Miami. The company paid Herald parent McClatchy Co. $236 million for the 13.9-acre site in 2011.

Development plans, however, are contingent on whether Miami’s historic preservation board votes to designate the 50-year-old Herald’s building an historic site. The issue, spearheaded by the Dade Heritage Trust, comes up for a final vote on Monday.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/17 – 12/23

2 dead after shooting at Las Vegas Strip hotel

A man shot and fatally wounded a woman, then killed himself Friday at the Excalibur hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, sending many patrons fleeing in fear. It happened at about 8:30 p.m. near the high-rise hotel’s front entrance, Las Vegas Metro Police Lt. Ray Steiber said. The man died at the scene of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after shooting the woman, who was a vendor at Excalibur’s concierge desk, Steiber said. The woman was pronounced dead later at a local hospital. Neither the gunman nor the victim was identified, but investigators said the two might have dated in the past. The shootings happened as the hotel’s front desk was busy on a Friday night with the National Finals Rodeo and other events in town. Steiber said patrons scattered at the first sound of gunfire, and no one else was wounded.

 Tea Fire Department embezzler gets 8 years

A woman who admittedly stole more than $170,000 from the Tea Fire Department has been sentenced to eight years in the state women’s prison in Pierre. Denae Baustian of rural Harrisburg was arrested in April on an aggravated grand theft charge. She pleaded guilty in July. She was sentenced Monday and will serve 30 percent of her sentence before she’s eligible for parole. The judge ordered an additional seven years of suspended prison time, which Baustian will not serve if she abides by the conditions of her parole. As part of her sentence, she is required to pay back all of the money she stole. She began by bringing $400 to court with her Monday to give to the fire department. Lincoln County State’s Attorney Tom Wollman said Baustian, who worked as the former treasurer for the fire department, had access to the department’s ATM card and used it to withdraw thousands of dollars to gamble with and invest in her husband’s painting business.

 Two dead, one wounded in shooting at St. Pete hotel

Two men are dead and a 17-year-old boy is seriously injured after a shooting during an apparent robbery attempt at a St. Petersburg motel early today, authorities said. One of the robbery suspects, Garrick C. Lucas, 25, of St. Petersburg, was pronounced dead at the scene, Puetz said. He was wearing a ski mask and a gun was found near his body, he said.  Eric T. Carter, 41, who lived at the motel, and Micah Cave, 17, who lives in a nearby motel, were taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where Carter died, Puetz said. Cave was being treated for injuries that were not considered life-threatening, Puetz said. Cave, Carter and four other men were on the motel’s patio playing a card game involving low-stakes gambling, Puetz said. Lucas and another man approached the group wearing masks and armed with handguns, Puetz said.

 Father pleads guilty to killing his children in SUV blaze

A father who set his sport utility vehicle ablaze six years ago in a murder-suicide attempt, killing his two children, but who jumped out in time to save himself, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of murder. Dae Kwon Yun, 61, agreed to serve two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. In exchange, prosecutors said they would no longer seek the death penalty. Just before he entered the courtroom, a sheriff’s deputy told the judge the man’s status had been changed to “suicidal.” Yun appeared in a thick dark green frock, chained and handcuffed at the waist and his hair disheveled.Yun had faced financial difficulties due to gambling debt, as well as $100,000 he owed in back taxes. His wife and the children’s mother, Sun Ok Ma, testified that he repeatedly beat her and threatened to kill her and burn down their home, leading up to their separation and divorce.

 One killed in Waterbury club shooting

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — One person has died following a late night shooting on North Main Street.  There is no name on the door of the building, just the words “One to a Million” painted on a window, but neighbors know it as an after hours club, a place to play cards for money. “What goes on in this place,” asked News 8’s Erin Cox.  “They don’t do that much,” said an unidentified man, “get together, play cards, that’s all I know.” Monday night a card game turned fatal. About a dozen people were at the table when two suspects came calling, barging in demanding money.  A fight erupted, one suspect fired a shot, before getting away with cash. A 47-year-old city man was hit by the bullet, leaving a trail of blood on the sidewalk. He later died from his injuries.

 Former Mint Hill fire chief embezzled to support gambling habit

MINT HILL, N.C. — The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that 38-year-old Jeremy K. Russell, former fire chief of the Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department, has agreed to plead guilty to public corruption.  Prosecutors say Russell embezzled more than $225,000 from the town of Mint Hill, as well as the fire department. According to the charges filed in U.S. District Court, Russell used his position as a fire chief to steal and embezzle from those instituions, along with the taxpayers who supported them, from May 2010 to April 2012.  Officials allege Russell set up a “sham corporation” doing business by the name “Regional Medic & First Responder Supply Connection”, with a corresponding bank account in Regional Medic’s name that Russell personally controlled. They continued that Russell submitted “bogus” invoices from Regional Medic for equipment and services that were never rendered or supplied to the fire department.  The payments on the “bogus” invoices were sent to a mail drop set-up by Russell, who would then deposit the payments into his “sham corporation” bank account.  Prosecutors say Russell used the more than $225,000 embezzeld funds to support his personal lifestyle and gambling habit.

 Federal prosecutors: former Rosemead Mayor John Tran took bribes, solicited sexual favors from developers

Federal prosecutors alleged this week that former Rosemead Mayor John Tran accepted bribes to fuel a gambling addiction, solicited sexual favors from a developer and tried to escape prosecution by turning over other corrupt politicians.   The allegations were part of the prosecutors’ latest court filing to fight Tran’s request to withdraw his earlier guilty plea in a federal bribery case against him.  The defense earlier this month filed a motion to withdraw Tran’s March guilty plea after uncovering information damaging to the credibility of the FBI’s main informant in the case.  The response, filed Monday by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Akrotirianakis, includes allegations that Tran solicited the bribes to feed a gambling addiction and solicited sexual favors “while the victim/CI had business pending before the city of Rosemead.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/10 – 12/16

FBI Investigates Miami PD Officers In Gambling Case; Arrests Expected

The FBI is investigating a ring of Miami police officers who have been providing protection services to a bookmaking operation in Liberty City, CBS4 News has learned. Six officers are expected to be arrested, with three or four others likely to face departmental discipline including termination. The officers’ arrests are expected in the next few weeks. The investigation began almost two years ago, when the Miami-Dade Police Department followed up on a tip about a possible gambling house in Liberty City.

 Man gets 2 to 6 years for scamming priest out of $500,000

A Buffalo man who fleeced $500,000 from a 91-year-old Catholic priest over a decade was sentenced today to two to six years in prison. “I did take the money and acted like a fool,” said Richard Kesick, who lost most of the money gambling at a casino. “I shouldn’t have done it.” Kesick in October pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny before Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk. Kesick had faced seven years in prison. Franczyk said Kesick “systematically fleeced” the priest. While his gambling addiction explains Kesick’s motivation, it does not excuse it, Franczyk said as he delivered the prison sentence. Defense attorney Robert Cutting sought leniency for Kesick, in part because of his client’s “horrific gambling addiction.”

 2 women leave infant in car while gambling at truck stop

Two Louisiana women are were arrested Thursday after police received a call that an infant was left alone in a vehicle at a truck stop in Eunice, LA. St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson, Captain Megan Vizena says Blair Buller and Anna Celeste SImoneaux were both booked into the St. Landry Parish Jail facing charges of cruelty to a juvenile. A dispatcher received a complaint from a concerned citizen about the infant. When the deputy arrived, he saw the infant inside with no one around. He found the mother, Blair Buller, inside gambling.  After Buller was arrested, the deputy reviewed the surveillance video that showed the infant alone in the vehicle for about an hour and 30 minutes.

 Operation Blood Sport: Meth and coke ring bust leads to discovery of cockfighting operation

If the Jefferson County DA’s office is right, some of the sixteen people indicted in a drug ring bust weren’t satisfied with dealing meth and cocaine. They were also allegedly involved with an illegal cockfighting operation featuring seventy roosters plus accoutrements that allowed the birds to slash the hell out of each other for gamblers’ entertainment. Details below. The investigation began in May 2012, with law enforcers from various agencies zeroing in on a crew suspected of trafficking drugs in Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Edgewater, Aurora and Denver. But the narcotics didn’t originate in those locations. The cocaine being peddled is believed to have come from California, while the meth is thought to have traveled here from Arizona.

 Doggies stripped of $600,000 by finance officer

The former finance officer with the Western Bulldogs football club has been jailed for fleecing it of more than $600,000. Jason David Hucker, 30, stole money from the club on an almost daily basis for two years until November, 2010. The County Court today heard that Hucker stole cash takings from the Whitten Oval merchandise store and off-site game-day stores. Prosecutor Michael Hannan said earlier that Hucker also dishonestly obtained a financial advantage by deception through unauthorised credit reversals. Mr Hannan told Judge Irene Lawson that Hucker was a heavy gambler and had four telephone betting accounts and accounts with other agencies.

 Former employee gets 2 years for embezzlement

Nov. 28–Feeling imprisoned by guilt over a son-in-law’s death and a succession of childhood traumas and abuses, Cynthia Carol Jacobsen felt her only escape was through a casino door.  To make a long story short, Jacobsen gambled. She fell deep in debt. She embezzled from her employer. She got caught. Jacobsen, 58, of Brooklyn Park, will now trade the psychological prison her defense lawyer claimed she had for a federal one. U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank sentenced her to 26 months behind bars Tuesday, Nov. 27, for embezzling more than $1 million from Land O’Lakes of Arden Hills, where she was a supervisor. “I know I have committed a very bad crime,” Jacobsen told Frank. “I expect to be punished.”

 Jacktrade LLC enters guilty plea in illegal sports betting case

In a deal with federal prosecutors, a gaming developer company known as Jacktrade LLC has forfeited more than $2 million in seized assets and pleaded guilty to an illegal gambling charge related to offshore sports wagering.  The defunct Las Vegas-based firm pleaded guilty last week in U.S. District Court to one count of interstate transmission wagering. The company admitted that it violated the federal Wire Act in 2007. The law prohibits Internet gambling only on sports, according to a recent U.S. Department of Justice opinion.  Prosecutors said wagers on sports were illegally routed through offshore sites on the island of Curacao in the Caribbean. Daniel Bogden, the U.S. attorney for Nevada, said that since illegal operators aren’t regulated at the same level as traditional, brick-and-mortar casinos, prohibiting illegal gaming is necessary to protect consumers, while deterring money laundering and underage gambling.  “Such illegal gaming operations take business from legal gaming operators, preventing state and local governments from receiving important tax revenues, and serve as a major source of income for organized crime groups both in the United States and abroad,” Bogden said in a statement released Wednesday.

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

UPDATE: Online Poker Bill Said to Lead to Unintended Criminal Consequences dead in 2012

Casino Watch Focus reported that a new online poker bill was filed by Sen. Harry Reid and Sen. Jon Kyl. The bill, known as the “Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012,” attempts to legalize online poker. However, as explained by Professor John W. Kindt in an online article, the bill allows for a variety of nefarious activities:

University of Illinois emeritus professor John W. Kindt says the Reid-Kyl Internet gambling bill would facilitate money laundering by terrorists and organized crime through new encryption technologies, which would allow for the potential abuse of banks’ abilities to process payments to offshore gambling websites.

“What the bill allows makes it easier for mobsters and even terrorists to launder money,” said Kindt, a retired professor of business and legal policy at the U. of I.

“The bill’s supporters argue that the Reid-Kyl legislation is worded in a way that allows for poker while prohibiting most other forms of Internet gambling,” he said. “But regulatory technologies can now be circumvented by cheaters and, even worse, by international criminal enterprises. Furthermore, gambling is gambling, whether it’s poker or some other game. And Internet gambling is the crack cocaine of gambling. It would place gambling at every school desk and workstation, in every living room, and on every cellphone.”

Given the current state of the fiscal cliff negotiations, the bill is not expected to pass this year. As an online source explained, even Sen. Harry Reid has conceded the bill’s passage this year as there is no consensus. However, this process does lend itself to being used as leverage in the fiscal cliff negotiations or during next year. Professor Kindt explains:

Although the bill doesn’t appear to have much momentum behind it now, Kindt cautions that both senators are very influential in their respective parties. “That signals to me that it could be part of a fiscal cliff deal,” he said. “But the lame duck legislative period also would be an opportune time for pro-gambling lobbyists to band together and pass it.” But passing such a bill through political horse-trading would be a huge mistake, Kindt says.

“Internet gambling in particular shrinks the consumer economy and destroys consumer confidence by promoting a ubiquitous gambling philosophy,” he said. “Legalizing online gambling would allow dubious parties to create a queue of speculative bubbles in international stock markets that could collapse the already fragile financial systems and destabilize essential international economic security.” Kindt likens gambling to “an economic cancer” that would only metastasize with more Internet gambling.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/03 – 12/09

Boca Raton man pleads guilty in FBI sting

A Boca Raton man accused of running a network of businesses built on lies pleaded guilty Friday to a mail fraud charge arising from an undercover FBI operation. Edward Laborio, the founder of Envit Capital Group, admitted to participating in a “pay-to-play scheme” in which he offered illegal kickbacks to someone he believed was the manager of a pension fund, according to court documents. It turned out to be a FBI sting targeting small business owners willing to engage in shady stock trading practices. Laborio’s plea in Miami federal court came as he faces charges in Boston that he defrauded investors of Envit Capital Group and business entities associated with Envit. In addition, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is suing him, accusing him of duping investors into buying more than $5.7 million of stock in his companies. The SEC alleges Laborio, 33, used investors’ funds to cut $340,000 in checks to himself, spend $100,000 at casinos and cover personal expenses such as video store rentals, restaurant meals and pharmacy bills, court records show.

 Jury finds Fla. coach guilty in Vegas casino death

LAS VEGAS – A former Florida high school football coach and teacher was convicted Friday of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a Utah man he knocked down with a single punch after the two men exchanged words in a Las Vegas casino men’s room. Benjamin Gerard Hawkins stood still and stared straight ahead, as his wife and other family members wept as the verdict was read in Clark County District Court. The case stemmed from the July 2011 death of John Massie, 46, of Roy, Utah. Hawkins’ family had hoped for an acquittal after he testified that Massie derided him with racial comments, tapped him three times on the chest and shoulder as they exchanged words in the men’s room, and approached him again after they walked separately to the gaming floor at O’Shea’s Casino.

 Police arrest Miramar employee accused of embezzling union money

The treasurer for the municipal employees union, accused of embezzling about $187,000 from union coffers, was arrested by the Miramar Police Department on Monday. Ron Salerno, 43, turned himself in after the police issued an arrest warrant for him last week, said police department spokeswoman Tania Rues. Salerno is charged with grand theft over $100,000 and swindling to obtain property of $50,000 or more. Both charges are first-degree felonies. Bank statements from the General Association of Miramar Employees (GAME) account showed that from June 2010 to June 2012 there had been over 180 ATM transactions totaling approximately $118,781. A certified public accountant reviewed the banks statements and determined the transactions were mostly large cash withdrawals made at various ATMs and casinos using the union ATM card issued to Salerno for union business.

 Man who bet on pee-wee games arrested again

The alleged ring-leader of a group of men accused of gambling on pee-wee football games is behind bars again. According to his bail bondsman, Brandon Bivins was picked up Friday by the US Marshals in Palm Beach County on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Bivins was found in possession of a .357 Magnum revolver and 26 rounds of ammunition. The gun was found when Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies conducted a search warrant on Oct. 29. BSO turned the gun over to the feds who waited until last week to charge him with the crime. Since he had previously been convicted of a crime, he was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Because of this latest arrest, Bivins missed his scheduled arraignment before a Broward judge Tuesday morning. If convicted on these new charges, he could face a minimum of 15 years in federal prison. Bivins was coach and president of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes and was charged in October with bookmaking and keeping a house for gambling.

 L.A. police: 4 arrests in killings of 4 outside home

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man accused of gunning down four people outside an overcrowded, unlicensed boarding house in Los Angeles was arrested at a Las Vegas casino-hotel along with three alleged accomplices, police said Tuesday. The four suspects were found at the Silverton Hotel and Casino less than 24 hours after the slayings and were arrested without incident. After a request for assistance from Los Angeles police and the FBI, Las Vegas police learned that the suspects were driving a black Audi with no license plates, located the car at the hotel, and watched the suspects through the night until arrest warrants were issued. Ka Pasasouk, 31, was arrested for investigation of murder, while three others were accused of being accessories to murder, committing robbery, or both, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said at a news conference.

 Tulsa fires athletic director over gambling probe

Tulsa athletic director Ross Parmley was fired Tuesday, a week after he was named in a federal investigation of a man accused of running a gambling operation in Oklahoma City. Tulsa President Steadman Upham released a letter to students and faculty of the private university Tuesday night, saying Parmley “admitted he had not been truthful” about his role in the mess when he told him in October 2011 that he was cooperating in an FBI investigation. Parmley was publicly linked last month with the investigation into Teddy Mitchell. In recently unsealed court documents, Parmley is described as an “admitted gambler with Mitchell.” Mitchell is scheduled for trial in April.

 Health Aide Gets 9 Years For $383K Theft

A Saratoga Springs woman who stole $382,974 from a 82-year-old legally blind woman for whom she worked as a home health aide has been sentenced to serve up to nine years in state prison. Michele L. Rose, 50, of Birch Meadow Estates worked for the woman for over five years and had previously taken care of the elderly woman’s husband. Rose was arrested after a family member noticed discrepancies in the elder’s account and contacted police. The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office said that Rose stole the money through phone transfers, personal checks and credit card charges since at least 2006.  Rose reportedly used the money to fund her gambling habit. She pleaded guilty to second degree grand larceny and will have to make restitution.  The elder is now in a nursing home.  The money stolen was her life savings.

 Police identify woman killed by bus at Mohegan Sun Casino

State police say a 62-year-old New York City woman was the person struck and killed by a bus at the Mohegan Sun casino in eastern Connecticut. Troopers identified the woman Thursday as Pui Ying Li of the Elmhurst section of Queens. Authorities say she was trying to cross a street in front of the Mohegan Tribal Public Safety Building near a parking garage Wednesday afternoon when she was hit by a commercial bus owned by the Tribal Sun Bus Co. Police say Li suffered traumatic facial and head injuries. She died at Backus Hospital in Norwich. Officials identified the bus driver as 38-year-old Lin Qi Si of Braintree, Mass.

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A Brief Look at Crime 11/26 – 12/02

Bookkeeper steals nearly $500K from tennis club

A former bookkeeper for the Boeing Employees Tennis Club in Kent was sentenced to nearly two years in prison.  Joanne Hanada, 61, was found guilty of 10 counts of theft.  Hanada stole $490,000 from the club, which is a private organization with more than half its members not employed at Boeing.  Prosecutors said Hanada siphoned thousands to personal accounts over the course of six years. During her sentencing, Hanada tearfully claimed the embezzlement stemmed from a gambling addiction.  The judge sentenced Hanada to 22 months in prison and ordered her to pay restitution.  As a result of the thefts, the club had to increase member dues and ask members for a one-time fee of $395 to replace the building’s roof. The fee caused the club to lose half its members.

 Admin worker jailed for dealing cocaine after running up gambling debts

AN Edinburgh pensions administrator was jailed for 45 months today after turning to drug dealing when he ran up gambling debts.  Gareth Morris made £1000 clear profit after selling cocaine for a fortnight before police raided his flat. A judge told Morris, 34, that it was clear that he was involved in commercial dealing in the Class A drug. Lord Uist pointed out at the High Court in Edinburgh that he had a good job at the time. The judge noted that he had previous convictions for drug trafficking offences which had resulted in community service being imposed on him. Lord Uist said: “That sentence obviously did not have the desired effect as you returned to drug dealing. Mr Mckenzie said Morris became involved with “an illegal poker den” and got into debt. “He thought the way out was to gamble more but as often happens that backfired,” he said. “He found himself in the situation that the gambling was escalating and the debt was escalating,” he said.

 FBI raiding ‘body-rub’ joints in booming South Florida massage industry

Hidden in plain sight amid South Florida’s suburban storefront malls is a booming adult industry that local leaders and law enforcement officials worry may be a large-scale breeding ground for sexual slavery and human trafficking. It’s known as the “body-rub” business, a world of open-til-late massage parlors better known for blacked-out windows and neon signs, provocative ads and rumors of “happy endings” for cash than their therapeutic merit. In recent years, experts say, there has been an “exponential” surge of massage parlors in South Florida, particularly in Broward County where many of the parlors advertise their proximity to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. And many elected officials are concerned.  Along State Road 7 and Stirling Road in Hollywood and  Davie, dozens of storefront massage parlors now compete for the lunchtime professional trade and late-night gamblers.

FBI says Teddy Mitchell involved wife in illegal poker games    

The FBI claims Teddy Mitchell involved his wife in the illegal poker games at their Oklahoma City home before she was beaten to death in 2010. Teddy Mitchell, 58, is accused in a federal indictment of making millions of dollars by hosting illegal high-stakes poker games at his home and by illegally taking bets on sporting events. He has pleaded not guilty. His wife, Julie Mitchell, 34, was killed at their home Nov. 2, 2010, while he was traveling out of state. Police have not arrested anyone in her death. New details about the FBI investigation of Teddy Mitchell are in an 84-page court affidavit unsealed last week.

Mitchell’s “illegal gambling business … has been in continuous operation from at least 1990 to November 2010,” FBI Special Agent Francis J. Bowles Jr. reported in the affidavit. “Mitchell operated this illegal gambling business with the assistance of his wife Julie Bryant Mitchell, (his) sons Dryden Ryley Mitchell and Nick Mitchell … and others.” The agent reported more than 10 reliable witnesses provided statements that Julie Mitchell, Dryden Mitchell and Nick Mitchell “participated directly in the illegal gambling business by taking bets, dealing at poker games and/or keeping books and records of the illegal gambling activity.” One cooperating witness identified Julie Mitchell as a card dealer at the poker games, according to the court affidavit.

 Disbarred lawyer imprisoned for 8 years for stealing $1 million from clients

Disbarred lawyer Scott Rovenger pleaded guilty to defrauding more than $1 million from his South Florida clients and was immediately sentenced Monday to eight years in state prison. His elaborate fraud, which went on for 20 years, involved cheating so-called close friends and clients, forging signatures on checks and entering into fraudulent settlements that he lied about, according to a sworn confession he gave when he realized it was all caving in on him. He apologized and said he blew all the money on paying for a lifestyle he couldn’t afford. “I used it for some gambling, for some addictions I had, for some living expenses too,” Rovenger said. “I’m totally broke … I’ve lost everything.”

Assassin found guilty of stabbing man 32 times in karaoke bar

A clean-cut Xiao Ye Bai made the sign of the cross and bowed his head Monday afternoon to await the jury’s decision. The assassin held the prayerful pose and showed little emotion even as the verdict was read: guilty on all counts, including first-degree murder. Bai, 25, could face the death penalty for stabbing Wen Jun “James” Li 32 times in the middle of a crowded karaoke bar early on a summer morning three years ago. Prosecutors said Bai, a Chinese immigrant, was working as muscle for the Asian gang United Bamboo, collecting a $10,000 gambling debt, when he stabbed Li in the bar on Jones Boulevard near Spring Mountain Road on July 6, 2009. Two months before the attack, with Pei driving a car, Bai sat in the back seat with Li, demanding $10,000 and punching and slapping him until he was bleeding and bruised. Li was running a scam at casino baccarat tables that prosecutors believed was supported by Asian mobsters.

 Administration manager Wendy Hope Jobson stole and lost $8 million

A GAMBLING-addicted mother of two was “floored” to learn she had wasted almost $8 million on online pokies. Administration manager Wendy Hope Jobson used internet banking to siphon money from her hotel-business employer more than 1000 times over five years. Jobson, 50, wasted the money on a gambling website, spending most of it on a poker machine game called Doctor Love. She then used the frequent-flyer points gained on her credit card on luxury overseas fares. Jobson pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court yesterday to 1410 counts of theft. Mitchell Koroneos, managing director of The Koroneos Group, which owns three hotels in Geelong and another in Werribee, said he was alerted to unusual transactions by his bank manager in September last year. He was told that $10,000 had been transferred from the company’s accounts to Jobson’s account four times. A forensic investigation later revealed Jobson had stolen about $7.8 million.

 Feds charge Intrade with illegally selling bets

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators on Monday sued the online prediction market Intrade, saying it illegally let customers bet on future economic data, the price of gold and even possible acts of war. Intrade is known for allowing bets on presidential elections, sports and other high-profile events. The prices at which customers are willing to make those bets are cited as informal odds. For example, on Monday the site gave “Argo” a 28.5 percent chance of winning the Oscar for best picture and assigned a 19 percent chance that the United States or Israel would launch an airstrike against Iran by June 30. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said in a complaint in federal court that Intrade and its operator, Trade Exchange Network Ltd., sold investment contracts that technically are options. Options must be traded on approved, regulated exchanges.

 Suspect in baby, grandmother deaths lost at casino

BRIDGEPORT, Pa. (AP) — A young man mired in gambling debts told police he killed a 10-month-old girl and her grandmother during a botched kidnapping after losing at least $15,000 at a casino near his office. Raghunandan Yandamuri, 26, knew the family from his apartment complex. Like him, the baby’s parents were young technology professionals from India. He had gone to the wife’s birthday party, met the visiting grandmother and — tellingly — used family nicknames in a ransom note demanding $50,000. “They both are working, so I thought maybe they have some money,” Yandamuri told police in a videotaped statement played at his preliminary hearing Wednesday, during which a suburban Philadelphia judge ordered him to stand trial on murder, kidnapping and other charges. “My intention was not to kill anyone or not to harm anyone,” he said. “I only tried to kidnap the baby.” Yandamuri told investigators he panicked after the grandmother, who had opened the apartment door to him on Oct. 22, was killed in a struggle over a kitchen knife he had brought. He accidentally dropped the baby, put a handkerchief over her mouth to quiet her and tied a towel around her head, he told police. He then left the infant — with her dark hair, huge dark eyes and white dress — in a trash-strewn, unused sauna in a basement fitness center, he said.

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