Daily Archives: March 7, 2013

A Brief Look at Crime 02/25 – 03/03

Man who gambled away pension guilty of killing wife

A Santa Ana man was found guilty Wednesday of killing his wife after she asked him to move out of their home because he gambled away $100,000 in pension money and had an  extramarital affair. Agustin Armaraz Espinoza, 58, was convicted of fatally beating Marisela Espinoza, his longtime wife, in July 2010 and fleeing briefly to Mexico, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office. According to prosecutors, Espinoza gambled away $100,000 in pension money and was in possession of a prepaid cellphone containing text messages regarding an extramarital sexual relationship. His wife, after learning of her husband’s gambling and cheating, demanded that he move out of their Santa Ana house. Authorities said Espinoza bludgeoned his wife and left her body in the bedroom of their home. He fled to San Bernardino and attempted to use his wife’s debit card before fleeing to Mexico.

Crook gambling addict admits stealing from employer

A GAMBLING addict stole from his employer in an attempt to pay off debts of more than £50,000 a court heard. Paul Andrew Dodds admitted stealing £4,000 from Coral bookmakers in Bishop Auckland at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court today (Monday, February 25). Andy Clinton, mitigating, said the 46-year-old was addicted to gambling and, at one point, had debts in excess of £80,000. He emphasised how Dodds had no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, adding: “He knows what he has done wrong and wants to put it right as soon as possible.” On returning to court, Mr McGuire described the thefts as unsophisticated and said Dodds had acted out of desperation.  He said Dodds accepted what he had done was wrong and that he would ultimately get caught but had felt he had no choice. “He has hit rock bottom and he needs help with his gambling,” said Mr McGuire. “It’s as simple as that.”

 Democratic party chief suspect in embezzlement

SEATTLE — A state Democratic Party strategist is under investigation for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the campaign committee he ran for Democrats in the state Senate. Three Democratic senators said Saturday they are trying to figure out how long the now-suspended executive director Michael King allegedly had been embezzling from the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee and how much had been taken. “The evidence at this point is pretty clear that there was money taken by Michael for his benefit,” Paul Lawrence, attorney for the committee said Saturday. He didn’t know how much had been taken. But when asked about reports that it could range between $35,000 and $100,000 he said: “We’re certainly looking at reimbursements at the high end of that range.” King told friends he’s battling addictions to alcohol and gambling, senators said.

 W. Pa. health exec stole $713K for gambling

PITTSBURGH—A fired executive of western Pennsylvania’s second-largest hospital network has been arrested on charges he stole $713,000 to feed his gambling habit.  Online court records don’t list attorneys for 52-year-old Ira Johnson, of Penn Hills, who was in custody Monday and awaiting arraignment on charges he stole the money from West Penn Allegheny Health System from 2006 until he was fired in November 2011.  Johnson was manager of patient financial services and later manager of revenue/cash receipts when he allegedly deposited health system checks into two accounts that appeared to belong to medical practices. In reality, Allegheny County investigators say Johnson was withdrawing the money at casinos in Pittsburgh, Erie and in Illinois, New Jersey and West Virginia.     

 Mobster sentenced in gambling, loan-sharking operation

A North Jersey mobster, who admitted to participating in the affairs of Philadelphia’s La Cosa Nostra, was sentenced today to a 55 month term in federal prison. Louis “Big Lou” Fazzini, 45, pleaded guilty in October to a racketeering conspiracy charge linked to a mob-controlled gambling and loan-sharking operation. A self-described “made” member of the mob, Fazzini, of Caldwell, operated a sports bookmaking business and ran a social club in northern New Jersey where illegal gambling on card and dice games occurred regularly. In addition, he devised a scheme to get health benefits through a “no show” job at a trash hauler controlled by the Philly mob.

 Man convicted in disability fraud case

An Independence man who collected Social Security disability benefits for more than 15 years even though he had a job and an active lifestyle was found guilty in federal court Monday. Charles Daniel Koss, 63, was convicted of two counts of theft of government money, one count of Social Security disability fraud, one count of mail fraud and one count of transmitting a false negotiable instrument with the intent to defraud the government. He could be sentenced to up to 61 years in federal prison without parole. Prosecutors said Koss received $212,768 in Social Security disability payments between 1994 and 2010 even though he worked as a full-time loan officer in a mortgage business. In order to qualify for disability benefits, a person must be unable to perform substantial work. Prosecutors say Koss enjoyed bowling, golfing, horseshoes and boating at his lake house. He also frequented a casino where he gambled a total of $260,000.

 Former commodities broker gets 4 years in fraud

A former commodities broker has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for defrauding a half-dozen customers of approximately $2.5 million and causing them to lose approximately $1.3 million, the U.S. Department of Justice reported Tuesday.  Joshua T.J. Russo, 31, of Chicago, a former vice president of alternative investments for Olympus Futures Inc. (previously Peak Trading Group), pleaded guilty in November to commodities fraud. Between March 2007 to April 2011, he obtained approximately $2.5 million from six investors and caused losses of more than $1.3 million, including $208,000 in commissions for himself that he spent on gambling, vacations, clothing, theater tickets, meals, and entertainment.

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