A south Mumbai diamond broker’s teenage son was kidnapped for ransom and murdered with the complicity of the boy’s cousin who was a habitual gambler and heavily in debt, police said Tuesday. Thirteen-year-old Aditya Ranka’s body was found at Pali village near Navi Mumbai late on Tuesday. His 25-year-old cousin Himanshu Ranka, and Himanshu’s friend Vijesh Sanghvi (28), were arrested. V P Road police said Himanshu and Vijesh were addicted to betting on cricket matches and deep in debt. They said Himanshu identified the target, while Vijesh carried out the kidnapping and murder. A ransom call was made to Jitendra’s cell phone, who initially took it as a joke. But upon learning that his son had gone out after receiving a call, he registered a complaint,” the officer said. According to police, as Vijesh was driving towards Navi Mumbai, Aditya tried to escape, following which he stabbed the boy to death. He then pulled over at a quiet spot, transferred the body to the boot, and drove to Pali village. There, he allegedly tried to burn the body and then abandoned it near a farmhouse.
The last two officials convicted of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux tribe in the Dakotas have been sentenced for their roles in the crime. Jacqueline Wanna, 67, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Aberdeen to six months of house arrest and five years of probation, the American News reported. Tammie Strutz, 52, was sentenced to two years in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. The defendants together also must pay nearly $346,000 in restitution. Authorities say Strutz stole the most money, at about $122,000, while Charlene Wanna took about $93,000, Jacqueline Wanna $77,000 and LaBelle about $53,000. Strutz admitted she gambled away the money she stole.
The former manager of a north-end gas bar who defrauded the owner of between $400,000 and $500,000 stood in a Brantford courtroom on Monday and apologized to the victim and to his own family. Court heard that Homenuk used the money to fund his addiction to online gambling. For some time, the station managed by Homenuk was the only one of the Davis Fuel-owned stations that was not making money. An examination of the business records by an accountant revealed discrepancies going back to 2004. It was eventually revealed that Homenuk had been regularly fudging the numbers on the gas station’s paperwork to hide his theft of what he later admitted ranged from $100 to $600 a day.
A former Malden mayoral aide and city solicitor could face seven years in prison after he pleaded guilty Monday in Middlesex County Superior Court to charges stemming from a money laundering scheme with ties to organized crime. Charles Toomajian, 55, pleaded guilty to larceny and accessory after the fact to a felony after procecutors agreed to drop conspiracy charges he also faced. Appearing before Judge Jane Haggerty, prosecutors said they are seeking a 5- to 7-year sentence. Toomajian also could be ordered to pay up to $350,000 in restitution when he is sentenced May 28. According to the indictments, Toomajian served as an intermediary between Charles Davis of Stoneham, who allegedly owed large gambling debts, and bookmaker Joseph Giallanella of North Andover, who along with Davis also was charged as a member of Rossetti’s network, prosecutors said. Davis worked for staffing company Randstad Professionals in Wakefield, where he had access to the corporate checkbook. To pay off his gambling debts, he wrote company checks, which were deposited into an account at Toomajian’s private law practice.
With the state capital besieged by criminal investigations, Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos has warned his members about taking campaign donations from gambling interests. Skelos issued the warning during a closed-door meeting with his members this past week after it was revealed that ex-state Sen. Shirley Huntley recorded six state senators, all of them Democrats like herself, for the FBI. With the push to legalize casinos heating up, gambling interest groups and their lobbyists in the last two years have given generously to legislators, Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group found. Among the donations were a combined $1.2 million to Skelos; the Senate Republican campaign committee he controls; Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Assembly Democratic campaign committee he controls and the chairs of the gaming committees in each house.
But with the feds sniffing around Albany, Skelos urged GOPers to be smart, sources said. “He said, ‘I’m not taking any money from gambling interests now and I would urge the members to be extremely careful. People are watching very closely,’ ” one senator said. The senator said Skelos recalled how the Democrats who controlled the chamber in 2009-10 got caught up in a potential bid-rigging scandal when awarding a contract to operate the Aqueduct racino in Queens. The contract has since been scrapped and the FBI is said to be looking into the matter.
Nevada State Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett has stated in an email that regulators are looking into identification verification firm Iovation and its relationship to licensed online poker company UltimatePoker. Iovation had ties to an insider cheating scandal at UB.com, a now defunct online poker site. UltimatePoker was the first legal online poker site to go live in Nevada two weeks ago. Players having difficulties registering were greeted with an error message from Iovation, which in turn helped in verifying its involvement with UltimatePoker. The online poker company announced it had severed ties with Iovation earlier in the week.
Former Bank of America manager Donnie Wright was sentenced Thursday, May 16, to 37 months in prison for embezzling more than $300,000 from his employer. U.S. District Judge Sam R, Cummings ordered Wright, 53, to pay $385,356 in restitution in installments after his release from prison and required he have five years’ supervised release. Wright also was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service during the first two years after his release. Cummings apparently set aside a request by Shery Kime-Goodwin, the federal public defender representing Wright, to reduce the sentence because “my client developed a gambling addiction that was very powerful.” Amanda Burch, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, did not object. According to Kime-Goodwin’s motion for a reduction in the sentence, Wright resigned from the bank after admitting to the thefts in 2010, and devoted his time to addressing the gambling addiction.
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