A Brief Look at Crime 03/11 – 03/17

NJ man admits role in fatal casino carjacking

A southern New Jersey man has admitted he fatally shot a man and wounded a woman during a carjacking inside an Atlantic City casino parking garage. Camden resident Phillip Byrd pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony murder in a plea deal with Atlantic County prosecutors, who’ll recommend he receive a 47-year prison term when he’s sentenced in June. Byrd and two other Camden men were accused of robbing 28-year-old Sunil Rattu and 24-year-old Radha Ghetia in September 2011. The victims were forced to drive from the Trump Taj Mahal parking garage to an alley, where they were shot. Rattu died from two gunshot wounds to the head. Ghetia survived two shots in the upper body. Another defendant also has pleaded guilty. The other is due in court Thursday.      

 One stop spree: Embezzle, gamble and lose, all at the same casino

When the controller of some restaurants and clubs at Foxwoods Resort Casino allegedly stole some $2.5 million in cash deposits, apparently some of the money casino gamblers had spent at the clubs made a circuitous route back to the gaming floor. The controller and her husband proceeded to lose $1.4 to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun at the same time the cash deposits went missing, according to federal authorities who secured a grand jury indictment  in the case late last year. According to an IRS agent’s affidavit, which has been unsealed by the court, the bulk of the money Scheuffler allegedly embezzled came from bags of cash that the businesses she supervised bundled up at the end of the night shift. The controller would open the bags and remove money she was meant to stock ATMs with, according to the affidavit. But much more was discovered missing from the bags than got placed in the ATMs, a forensic audit later uncovered.

 Mass. organized crime boss gets 4-year sentence on loan sharking, gambling charges

A 64-year-old North Andover man described by prosecutors as the “overall boss” of a loan sharking and illegal gambling enterprise has been sentenced to up to four years in prison. Joseph Giallanella was also sentenced Monday to two years of probation upon release. Giallanella had pleaded guilty in January to charges including managing a gaming enterprise, using a telephone for gaming, criminal usury, two counts of conspiracy and two counts of accessory after the fact of larceny. Prosecutors say he strong-armed debtors using threats and violence. Giallanella and an enforcer had extortion victims all over the state who they “stalked, threatened, coerced, harassed and in one instance beat for money,” according to court documents.

 Philly-area ambulance worker stole $642K

Police say a secretary for a suburban Philadelphia ambulance company stole $642,000 from the nonprofit over four years, allegedly to support a gambling habit. The Bucks County Courier Times reports 56-year-old Danette Lewchick was sent to Bucks County prison Monday after being unable to post $25,000 bail on theft and related charges. Authorities say she became the Warrington Community Ambulance’s financial secretary in 2008. She allegedly took money from the company’s account and put it toward her personal use. Her attorney, Jeffrey Solar, says she has “a severe gambling addiction.” Police say many of her withdrawals were made at Parx Casino in Bensalem, or at banks between the casino and her home and job.

 Internet cafes described as $300 million conspiracy

Calling their actions “callous” and “despicable,” authorities on Wednesday said the nonprofit Allied Veterans of the World — which operates Internet cafes throughout Central Florida — is a sophisticated, $300 million criminal enterprise. A three-year, multi-agency investigation into the controversial strip-mall casinos culminated this week with the arrests of roughly 50 people, including law-enforcement officers and a Jacksonville attorney on hundreds of charges ranging from racketeering to money laundering. In total, 57 people were charged in “Operation Reveal the Deal.” The non-profit Allied Veterans held itself out to be a charity for veterans, overseeing dozens of store-front “electronic sweepstakes” centers that it called “fund-raising centers,” according to a federal search warrant affidavit prepared by an Internal Revenue Service agent. “In fact, the ‘fundraising centers’ were nothing more than Internet casinos that operated slot machines in violation of Florida’s gambling laws,” the affidavit said. The company claimed to donate 70 to 100 percent of its proceeds to charity, according to the affidavit, but in reality, gave away about 2 percent. Allied Veterans grossed $290 million between 2007 and 2012, the affidavit said, but donated just $6 million to charity.

 Okla. couple accused of violating Fla. gaming laws

An Oklahoma technology company owner was arrested Tuesday in connection to allegations that he made $290 million after supplying illegal gambling software in Florida and claiming the games’ proceeds would benefit a veterans group.  Chase Egan Burns, 37, turned himself in to sheriff’s deputies in Oklahoma on a felony charge of being a fugitive from Florida, where he is facing several charges including racketeering and conspiracy, according to a formal accusation filed by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office. Burns’ wife also has been arrested. Court documents allege Burns and other owners of gambling units he supplied claimed that the money played and lost on the games would be donated to Allied Veterans. But authorities said the veterans group received less than 1 percent of the proceeds. Prosecutors said they believe Burns earned more than $290 million on the gaming software and units.

Cuyahoga prosecutors seize money from Internet cafe supplier

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County prosecutors have seized $1.8 million that they say was generated by illegal gambling at Internet cafes. About half of the money was confiscated Monday from a credit union account in the name of VS2 Worldwide Communications, a New Jersey company that supplies software for computer games played in the storefront cafes. A Cuyahoga County judge authorized the move, adding to funds previously taken in a criminal case.  Owners and lawyers say the unregulated cafes — which number as many as 800 in Ohio — are legitimate businesses that sell Internet or telephone time and throw in computerized sweepstakes games as a marketing tool. Prosecutors say the businesses are a facade for illegal gambling on games that mimic slot machines.

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