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.”

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