A Brief Look at Crime 01/28 – 02/03

High-roller indicted on claim he gambled investors’ $175 million

High-rolling Las Vegas businessman Ramon DeSage was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on four counts of wire fraud accusing him of swindling investors out of roughly $190 million between 2005 and 2012.  DeSage, 63, who supplies luxury gifts to the casino industry, gambled away $175 million from the investors, the indictment alleged.  He has been summoned to appear for arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bill Hoffman on Feb. 8. DeSage’s lawyer, Richard Wright, could not be reached for comment. In July, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Internal Revenue Service agents had arrested DeSage on a criminal complaint alleging he was running an “elaborate” Ponzi scheme. DeSage, who holds dual citizenship in the United States and Lebanon, used his main Las Vegas company, Cadeau Express, and other companies to defraud his investors, the complaint charged. At the time, the complaint said DeSage, a Las Vegas resident since 1977, owed investors more than $75 million. He was described as a “prodigious gambler.”

 ‘Greedy’ man stole $250,000

A man was “greedy” for a more lavish lifestyle when he defrauded an indigenous grants organisation of more than $250,000, a court has heard. Mark Anthony Davis, 29, from Nundah, took the money between February 2010 and August 2011 when he was working for the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander College for Health, Education and Training. The Brisbane District Court heard on Friday Davis was working as a curriculum development manager when he arranged for the organisation to pay about $139,000 to a company owned by him for education services he never provided. The court was told he spent the money on a car, furniture, a holiday to the US and a home theatre system. The rest he spent on his addictions to gambling, drugs and alcohol. None of the money has been repaid.

 Three critically wounded after Carnival City robbery

Captain Julia Claassen said that a group of armed suspects entered the casino just after midnight on Monday and headed straight to the vault.  Claasen could not confirm the number of people in the gang but some told Talk Radio 702 on Monday morning there could have been about 20 people. The men ordered the casino’s patrons to lay on the floor and then used a hammer and a grinder to open the vault. The gang removed an undisclosed amount of money. A shift manager alerted police but the gang assaulted six patrons in the meantime. “When they tried to flee, a shootout ensued between the suspects and police, in which two security guards and one reserve officer, from Brakpan police station, were shot,” said Claasen. The three wounded men were admitted to hospital in a critical condition.

 Spanaway paralegal charged with theft of nearly $250,000

Deborah Sheehan said she stole the money – nearly a quarter of a million dollars – to pay her gambling debts, and she was very sorry.  Pierce County prosecutors noted her remorse but still charged the 46-year-old Spanaway woman with 27 counts of theft and forgery. She has not been arraigned and is not in custody. A bench warrant was issued for her arrest Tuesday. Sheehan worked for nine years as a senior paralegal at the Tacoma-based law firm of David Vail & Associates, which handles workers’ compensation, personal injury and disability cases, before she was caught in April 2012, prosecutors said. She is accused of stealing and cashing 89 checks intended for clients totaling $234,845. Police said she also admitted to stealing thousands from her homeowners association.

 Court orders Calgary man to return $500,000 to victims in energy company scam

A former Calgary man has pleaded guilty to fraud and been ordered to pay back $500,000 to his victims. Nicholas David Reeves, 51, pleaded guilty in court on Jan. 25 to fraud over $5,000 and sentenced to a year in jail. Between 2007 and 2009 he raised money for a UK-based company called Disenco Energy PLC. “He didn’t forward that money to Disenco. However, he used the money to support his gambling habit and some of it was also used for his personal use,” said RCMP commercial crime section Sgt. Sukh Randhawa. The scam came to the police’s attention when the company reported it to authorities. “Victims also came forward saying that they never received any paperwork,” said Randhawa.  Police conducted a year-long investigation and laid charges based on the evidence from 15 victims. The Alberta Securities Commission also looked into the case and found that Reeves lied to investors and misappropriated their money. The cash was intended to be used as venture capital in startup entities but instead was converted to money for his own use, said the ASC.

 Dennis Huston Changes Plea to Guilty of stealing more than $1 million to gamble

The former Franklin County Public Works accounting manager won’t go on trial for theft and money laundering.  Dennis Huston moments ago accepted a plea deal and changed his plea. He is pleading guilty as charged to first degree theft, money laundering and cocaine possession. Pasco Police arrested Huston in February of 2012. Prosecutors say he stole more than $1 million of taxpayer’s money to feed his cocaine and gambling addictions. Huston now faces up to 25 years in prison, the Assistant Attorney General is recommending 15 years.

Lunch Ladies Accused Of $93K Theft For Gambling

CBS Pittsburgh reported Thursday that two former lunch ladies have been charged with siphoning off nearly $94,000 in cash from their school and using the funds for casino gambling. The alleged theft took place over a more than two-year period. 50-year-old Stacy Lee Shipley and 49-year-old Sheila Ann Cook worked for the Charleroi School District — about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Both face a number of charges in the case, according to CBS.  The news is similar to a situation this fall out of New York, when a nun was accused of stealing $128,000 in order to fund a gambling habit at a casino.

 Man gets jail sentence in thefts from Girl Scouts

SANTA ANA – A former foreign-exchange student convicted of embezzling more than $100,000 from the Girl Scout Council of Orange County was sentenced to jail time after pleading guilty to grand theft and forgery.  Mawufemor Biekro, 35, of Ghana was sentenced to five years and four months in custody. Under new California sentencing guidelines, he will serve his sentence as two years and four months in jail followed by three years under mandatory supervision, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said. Biekro was also ordered to pay $102,479 in restitution to the Girl Scouts. “What the defendant stole from was, from our perspective, beyond the pale,” said Deputy District Attorney Chuck Lawhorn, who prosecuted the case. “He made a decision to embezzle money for selfish reasons that impacted a nonprofit organization that serves the needs of 23,000 Girl Scouts in Orange County.”  Lawhorn said Biekro funneled some of the stolen money back to his home country of Ghana through moneygrams and Western Union payments. Biekro also made ATM withdrawals inside Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula and other Indian gaming casinos, where he is believed to have gambled with the embezzled funds, Lawhorn added.

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

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