Monthly Archives: June 2013

Court Date Decided and Briefs Filed by NFL, MLB & Other Sport Organizations against New Jersey’s Sports Betting Legislation

Casino Watch Focus reported that the NFL, MLB, NHL and NCAA were joined by the federal government in their lawsuit against New Jersey pro-sports betting legislation.  Betting on these sports has traditionally been limited to Las Vegas, but New Jersey passed legislation looking to open wide scale sports betting in their state.  The lawsuit was filed at the beginning of the year and a June 26th court date has been established.  As such, both sides have filed briefs to the court. An online source explains how low gambling revenues are causing New Jersey to fight even harder to keep the legislation in place:

New Jersey fired back at the major sports leagues and the US Department of Justice this weekend, while at the same time posting yet another decline in monthly gaming revenue in Atlantic City.

The US Department of Justice and five sports leagues filed briefs last week for the June 26th showdown in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit over whether New Jersey has the right to legalize sports betting within its borders.  New Jersey filed its own brief on Friday, as did two other groups supporting the State’s position.

Sports betting is a feature that state lawmakers hope will increase visitation and revenue at ailing Atlantic City casinos. Sports betting would also be allowed at New Jersey racetracks, including the Meadowlands, home of the next Super Bowl.

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A Brief Look at Crime 06/17 – 06/23

Shots at Potawatomi Bingo Casino send patrons fleeing

Patrons enjoying the early hours of Father’s Day at Potawatomi Bingo Casino apparently helped get a handgun away from an angry man who already had fired multiple shots on the casino’s gaming floor Sunday. The suspect, a 27-year-old Wauwatosa man, fired a handgun and wounded a 23-year-old Milwaukee woman about 1:30 a.m., Milwaukee police Sgt. Mark Stanmeyer said. Multiple people told the Journal Sentinel that frightened patrons stampeded in two waves toward the casino’s exits in a chaotic scene as other gamblers sought cover under gaming tables and next to slot machines. The casino closed until 9 a.m. Sunday after the incident. The victim, who was hospitalized, suffered a leg wound that was not life-threatening, according to police.

 New York bookkeeper admits theft of $800,000 from Buffalo employer

Already previously convicted for drunken driving, Mary Jane Hagler of Hamburg, New York, added a new crime to her record. The bookkeeper on Friday admitted stealing nearly $800,000 over 10 years from the Buffalo property company where she worked. The stolen money helped support her casino gambling habit, a prosecutor said. Hagler, 58, of Rosedale Avenue, pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing before Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk. Hagler admitted stealing $796,989 from Pearce and Pearce Co., a property management firm on Niagara Falls Boulevard. She stole the money mostly by writing unauthorized checks payable to herself. She also charged personal purchases to the company credit card.

Officials to seize $7.8M from illegal gambling operation 

Oklahoma law officials are seeking to confiscate $7.8 million that was seized from an Anadarko couple that was charged with conducting an illegal gambling operation. The couple, Chase and Kristin Burns, were among 57 people arrested in March on felony charges related to a Florida-based charity that purported to help homeless veterans by operating Internet sweepstakes cafes. The couple faces racketeering and other charges.

NY teachers union head lost $350K at casino

Authorities say an upstate woman suspected of stealing $808,000 from the teachers union she headed lost more than $350,000 at a central New York casino over the last seven years of her life. Police in Auburn tell The Post-Standard of Syracuse that the losses were revealed in Turning Stone casino records turned over by the Oneida Indian Nation. The detective investigating the thefts from the Auburn Teachers Association says police don’t know for sure that the money 63-year-old Sally Jo Widmer lost at the casino was union funds. The longtime union president was found dead inside her home last November. Authorities ruled her death a suicide.

Casino reviews security as charges loom in shooting

Potawatomi Bingo Casino is reviewing its security procedures after a man ignored posted warnings and brought a gun inside the casino, shooting a Milwaukee woman in her leg early Sunday. “In a situation like this, our security officers are not armed. They are not to become interveners, they are to become witnesses,” Ryan Amundson, casino spokesman, said Monday. Amundson confirmed that several casino patrons helped wrestle the gun away from the shooter, who already had fired multiple shots on the gaming floor and wounded the 23-year-old Milwaukee woman about 1:30 a.m. Sunday at the casino, 1721 W. Canal St. A 27-year-old Wauwatosa man is in custody while the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office reviews the case for possible charges, Milwaukee police said Monday. The man could be in court by Tuesday. Multiple people told the Journal Sentinel  that frightened patrons stampeded in two waves toward the casino’s exits in a chaotic scene as other gamblers sought cover under gaming tables.

Missouri couple admit $2.8M embezzlement

A northwest Missouri couple who authorities say were heavy gamblers have pleaded guilty to a $2.8 million embezzlement and check-kiting scheme. The U.S. Attorney’s office says 54-year-old Laura Dejong and 55-year-old Craig Dejong, of Liberty, both pleaded guilty Tuesday to filing a false tax return. Laura Dejong also pleaded guilty to mail fraud. The wife admitted embezzling the money from January 2003 to November 2011 from Kansas City Screw Products Inc., where she worked as a secretary and bookkeeper for 23 years. Prosecutors said the Dejongs engaged in millions of dollars of gambling, mostly at slot machines. They also spent more than $100,000 on vacations and cruises. The couple agreed to forfeit their Liberty home and everything they bought with stolen money, including vehicles, a boat and sports tickets.

Man arrested for shooting man who won big at casino

One man is in custody and two others were questioned and released after a bizarre robbery and shooting Tuesday in northeast Oklahoma City. Authorities said Joseph Moore was arrested for the shot that put the victim in the hospital, luckily with non-life threatening injuries. “A gentleman called 911 to report he had been shot,” OKC Police Sgt. Dexter Nelson said. The victim told police he was previously at a casino and won a large sum of money. He then met two men who wanted to sell him an ATV and drove the suspects to the area of N.E. 63rd St. and Midwest Blvd. to check out the 4-wheeler for sale. “It’s an abandoned barn, there’s nothing inside that barn, it’s dilapidated, so there were no ATVs there,” Sgt. Nelson said. From there, the suspects allegedly shot and robbed the victim but they didn’t get far.

Five Stark County residents charged with laundering $530,000 from illegal bookmaking operation

Five Stark County residents are being charged with conspiracy to launder more than a half-million dollars obtained through an illegal bookmaking operation. A federal grand jury Wednesday returned an indictment in the case, according to Steven Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. Charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments are: Joseph D. Nemeth, 49, and Rhonda Albaugh, 45, both of Lake Township; and Canton residents Joseph M. Nemeth, 75; Helen C. Nemeth, 75; and Robert T. Johns, 66. The indictment alleges that all of the defendants conspired to launder at least $530,000 between 2004 and 2013. All but $15,000 of these transactions occurred after Nov. 1, 2008, according to the indictment. The indictment says Joseph D. Nemeth instructed Robert Johns and other gamblers to pay some of their loss debts to him by paying Rhonda Albaugh by check, which she then deposited into various bank accounts. Joseph D. Nemeth and Albaugh opened numerous credit card and bank accounts and utilized them to receive payments from various gamblers, the indictment says. They then invested illegal gambling proceeds in real estate and construction projects titled in the names of others, including Helen Nemeth and Joseph M. Nemeth.

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


Rep. Peter King Introduces Online Gambling Bill; Sen. Harry Reid Objects

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts to pass federal online gambling legislation.  Most attempts have centered around online poker and Sen. Harry Reid has led the way.  Casino Watch Focus reported that this year’s attempt would not come from Sen. Harry Reid, but rather Rep. Peter King.  His bill has now been introduced, but goes beyond legalizing online poker.  An online political source explains:

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) introduced legislation on Thursday that would legalize online gambling.

The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2013 would establish a federal regulatory regime for online gaming.

King’s bill comes after a 2011 Justice Department ruling that the Wire Act only banned online betting on sports, a decision that led many states to move forward with legalizing Internet gambling.

State officials and lotteries have resisted legislation that could hinder states’ authority over gambling. A similar “opt-out” measure was included in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) online poker bill last year but did not win over critics from state governments.

Sen. Harry Reid does not support this legislation.  He is working with Sen. Dean Heller on yet another online poker bill and believes King’s bill will not get any traction as it undermines his and other pro online poker advocates.  An online source reports:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid believes that a bill proposed by New York Congressman Peter King to legalize online gambling at the federal level undermines the efforts of Web poker advocates.

In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Reid says that King’s bill would authorize just about everything with little oversight.

“(It) basically authorizes everything – 21, poker, everything,” Reid said.

“I felt for several months now that I don’t see any movement on this,” Reid said. “I don’t see anything happening.”

Other online poker bills are expected to be filed at the federal level this year.  Stay tuned to Casino Watch Focus for updates and for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION.


A Brief Look at Crime 06/10 – 06/16

Ex-university official hit with embezzle charge

A grand jury has indicted a former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute employee on charges she stole more than $350,000 from the university. Rensselaer County District Attorney Richard McNally says Christine Dickson faces a felony count of second-degree grand larceny. Authorities say she used an RPI-issued credit card to steal $367,901 between 2003 and 2009. The 55-year-old Dickson was arrested three years ago but had been in plea negotiations since. The grand jury indicted her Friday. Her lawyer, Joe Ahearn (uh-HERN’), says he’ll seek to dismiss the charges based on the lag between arrest and indictment. Dickson is accused of using the card to get $82,000 in cash advances, $15,000 in car rentals, $4,900 for cruise and airline travel and $1,500 in charges to Amazon.com. She also funded trips to casinos.

Birmingham police raid illegal gambling operation

Over $80,000 in cash and 62 gambling machines were seized by the Birmingham Police Department Friday afternoon in a “Bingo Bust”.  The raid took place off Lakeshore Drive at “Bingo Bingo” after police received several complaints of the illegal gambling operation. No arrests were made, but police had enough information to obtain a warrant to make the bust.  “The detectives got information that this operation was ongoing here. So they came inside and observed the machines. They retrieved a warrant and served that warrant today.” Sgt. Johnny Williams said. No one was operating the computers during the time of the bust.

Former postal service worker sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison by federal judge in Portland 

A federal judge sentenced a former postal worker with a gambling addiction to one-and-a-half years in prison for taking more than $135,000 worth of checks, cash and other proceeds that belonged to the U.S. Postal Service. Simon noted that Mendoza-Cruz, who had served as an officer-in-charge of an Oregon post office and hoped to someday be postmaster, had violated a position of public trust.  “You were put in a position of trust,” he said. “You didn’t live up to that trust.”  And Mendoza-Cruz apologized for her actions, telling Simon that she regretted the gambling addiction that led her to steal.  In between sobs, she told him that gambling started as just entertainment, but soon became an obsession in which she was “feeling like I needed to keep going.” ““I let everyone down, including my family and co-workers,” she said. But she has sought out help for her gambling addiction and added that “I am on the right track to continue to do the right things.”

PokerStars Chairman Forfeits $50m to US in Resolution of Black Friday Case

Mark Scheinberg, Chairman of the Board of PokerStars, has agreed to forfeit $50 million as settlement of claims by the US connected to the first amended complaint relating to Black Friday. The Department of Justice sought the forfeiture of assets of PokerStars-related companies including Rational Entertainment Enterprises, pursuant to provisions that allow the seizure of property used in an illegal gambling business, and property derived from proceeds of bank and wire fraud and money laundering. The settlement has no bearing on the deal PokerStars struck with the DOJ last year to settle complaints against the company and purchase the assets of Full Tilt Poker for $731 million dollars. The $50 million forfeited by Mark Scheinberg will not be applied to any outstanding balance still owed to the DOJ as a part of the settlement last year.

Former Miami Beach health clinic leader sentenced in embezzlement case

The community knew Kathryn Abbate as the leader of a Miami Beach-based clinic that provides vital healthcare to the poor and uninsured.  Secretly, her attorney and prosecutors say she was a gambler, drug addict and thief, raiding almost $7 million from the Miami Beach Community Health Center to support her habits. For that, a federal judge on Wednesday sentenced Abbate to 42 months in prison — but not before her attorney Bruce Lyons spun a tale of a deeply troubled woman. He called it a “tale of two Kathryns.” According to Lyons: There were long nights playing slots at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Bundles of cash for unnamed politicians — some of it surreptitiously left under a raincoat. Secret payments to settle sexual harassment allegations against a clinic employee. Another $50,000 went to someone’s wedding. “I accept the responsibility for my conduct,” Abbate told Judge Marcia Cooke, “because I am responsible.” She added: “I am 64-years-old. Not in the greatest of health. And I am petrified…I’m just praying that you’ll consider my lifetime of service.” Lyons said his client didn’t live a lavish lifestyle, but she stole to secretly feed her addictions.

Feds: Bulger at center of murders

BOSTON (AP) — Reputed gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was a “hands-on killer” responsible for “murder and mayhem” in Boston for almost 30 years, a federal prosecutor told a jury Wednesday as Bulger’s highly anticipated racketeering trial began. Bulger’s lawyer acknowledged that Bulger made millions through drugs, illegal gambling and loan-sharking, but told the jury that three ex-mobsters who have pinned murders on Bulger cannot be believed. Each of the men received “extraordinary” deals from prosecutors in exchange for their cooperation, defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. said. The defense also denied prosecution claims that Bulger was an FBI informant for years and provided information on the rival New England Mafia.

7 charged in multimillion dollar tax refund scam

Seven people, two of them U.S. Postal Service employees, have been charged in a multimillion dollar tax fraud scam that involved intercepting U.S. Treasury checks and using the ill-gotten gains to form shell corporations, purchase expensive cars and gamble in Atlantic City, officials said today.  In all, the group allegedly stole nearly $2 million in tax refunds after they bribed two Queens mail carriers to intercept the fraudulent checks between November 2011 and April 2013, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.  The checks were generated using Social Security numbers stolen from residents in Puerto Rico and falsified wage information, then directed to addresses along the mail route controlled by the two crooked mail carriers, Fishman said. In early 2012, the group purchased at least 14 motor vehicles using proceeds from the fraudulent checks, according to Fishman, who said the money was also used to fund gambling trips to Atantic City.

Gambling father leaves children alone in truck

A Yelm, Washington resident has been booked after he left his children in a truck while he was enjoying a gambling session. 34-year-old Terry Jonason was spinning the reels of the slot machines inside the Emerald Queen Casino for several hours.  His two daughters blew the truck’s horns after which they were discovered. It was clear to see that the children had been inside the truck for quite a while, but they were in a normal condition. “The girls had spent about five hours in the vehicle and they had wet their pants,” a police spokesperson revealed. The 34-year-old gambler works as a trucker for his dad’s company, which is located in Spanaway, Washington. Jonason visited the small town of Fife for repairs of the vehicle. The 34-year-old truck driver went to the gambling venue as his vehicle couldn’t be repaired. Jonason thought he had been gambling less than one hour.

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


Florida Judge Denies Injunction Sought to Stop Enforcement of Internet Café Ban

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to end illegal Internet Cafes in Florida.  Gov. Rick Scott signed into law legislation passed by the Florida House and Senate that officially put an end to illegal Internet Cafes.  Shortly thereafter, a group filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the ban.  Now The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that the injunction sought has been denied:

A federal judge refused Tuesday to block enforcement of Florida’s new video gambling law, rejecting arguments by the owners of two Broward senior arcades that the measure is unconstitutionally vague and violates the First Amendment rights of their elderly customers.

“The phrase ‘casino-style games’ has a common or ordinary meaning that is known to the general population,” Cohn wrote in his decision, noting that the arcades themselves use the phrase ’’casino-style gaming” in some of their advertising.

He also dismissed the argument that, if the law forced the arcades to close, it violated a First Amendment “right of association” of customers to mingle together while playing the games. “If senior citizens desire to associate and play ‘casino-style games,’ they may still meet at local casinos to do so,” Cohn wrote.

The lawsuit seeking to invalidate the legislation for being “unconstitutionally vague” is still moving forward and will likely take several months to be fully tried.  The injunction to lift the ban and allow these gambling facilities to operate, however, has been denied, thus allowing current enforcement keeping these gambling dens closed.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 06/03 – 06/09

Man beaten to death by masked men in trailer home

Police from the Lod subdistrict and the YAMAR investigative unit are looking for suspects in the killing of a Kfar Truman resident found beaten to death in his trailer home inside the village on Sunday night. A senior official with the Central District police said Monday that the victim, 46-year-old Shimon Tirush was well-known to police, with a criminal record tied to his involvement in illegal gambling rings. Tirush had returned to his home with his girlfriend when he was ambushed by two masked men who were waiting inside the caravan. The two men beat him unconscious and then fled the scene, at which point his girlfriend called police. Lod police commander Doron Turgeman told reporters at the scene of the murder that around 1:30 officers received a call of a robbery at Kfar Truman and that when they arrived they found the victim lying in the entry way of his home, and that paramedics spent a half hour trying to revive him before ruling him dead.

Gambler convicted, risks spending life in prison

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Joseph Neal was convicted Thursday evening for a crime that took place in June of 2009, according to a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office press release.  Neal was charged with two counts of Armed Robbery, one count of Aggravated Assault, and one count of Shooting or Throwing Deadly Missiles. In June 2009, Neal was gambling, pitching quarters, with two others and lost almost $600, the report detailed. He then left the area and came back with a revolver. The report said, Neal pointed the gun at the two victims and fired into a vehicle of another victim, who stopped by to visit. The victims gave Neal their money, he fled the area and was later caught by JSO, the report said.  Neal faces life in prison and will be sentenced the week of June 17.

Fort Worth vice officer sentenced to four years in prison for giving inside information to Dallas-based gambling operation

In March, 52-year-old Edward Boyd Adcock, who once worked vice for the Fort Worth police department, pleaded guilty to official use of misinformation — a technical term that means he used his position to warn a gambling operation about coming raids and an ongoing criminal investigation. At the time he requested a judge hand down his sentence. Today he got his wish: In a Fort Worth courtroom Judge Louis Sturns sentenced Adcock to four years in prison. According to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, Adcock made a lot of money being a crooked cop — up to $70,000.

Terrytown woman arrested after stealing more than $100K for gambling

A Terrytown woman was arrested after a gambling addition led to her stealing more than $100,000 from a restaurant she once worked for, a Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s spokesman said Monday. Kristen Carroll, 38, was booked with one count of theft, valued at $103,508.44, as well as being a fugitive for failing to appear for an arraignment hearing related to issuing worthless checks. According to Commander Eric Becnel, the owner of the restaurant suspected Carroll, who managed the eatery from July 2011 to Jun 2012, of stealing cash deposits. Carroll was a friend of the owner and was responsible for collecting the cash payments to prepare for daily deposits, Becnel said. The owner noticed a significant amount of cash missing from deposits when he checked the business deposits against cash received and confronted Carroll, Becnel said. Carroll admitted to her friend that she had been taking money to support her gambling addiction.

Huston ordered to pay $2.8M for embezzling from Franklin County

A Franklin County judge ruled Friday that Dennis Huston will have to pay $2.8 million in restitution for embezzling money from the county for 22 years.  Judge Vic VanderSchoor said he doesn’t know if Huston ever will be able to pay even a portion of the money back.  The restitution covers a period from 1996 to 2012 when Huston was collecting “consistent sums” of money after he opened a bank account in the name of a Spokane company and submitted invoices to Franklin County for equipment and parts it never received. Huston testified briefly from his chair while shackled, dressed in an orange jumpsuit. He said he processed legitimate payments to the Spokane company while he was working for the county.  Huston’s defense lawyer John Jensen argued some of the money he was convicted of embezzling actually was part of those payments. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison in March for the embezzlement scheme, which is considered by officials to be the worst government fraud in state history.  Huston said in court after he pleaded guilty that he stole money to support his cocaine and gambling habits.

State worker allegedly stole $1 million and went gambling

Authorities have arrested a former accountant for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals on charges she defrauded the state’s Medicaid program out of more than $1 million. Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell’s office says 46-year-old Deborah Crowder Loper, of Baton Rouge, was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Tuesday on charges of fraud, money laundering and malfeasance in office. Loper managed funds used to operate the state’s Medicaid program. Caldwell’s office claims she fabricated documents to make it appear that she had closed a bank account associated with her job. Instead, she allegedly deposited hundreds of thousands of dollars in Medicaid reimbursement funds into the account for her personal use. Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street says records show Loper would use the money to gamble at area casinos.

East Naples man to serve 7 years for defrauding employer of $150,000

An East Naples man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing more than $150,000 from his employer to fund his personal gambling ventures.   Raymond Gryska, 63, of the 1800 block of Florida Club Circle, will also serve 23 years of probation and has been ordered to pay full restitution, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office’s Economic Crimes Unit began investigating Gryska after they received a complaint from his employer, Leanis Polynesian Shop Inc. An analysis of the business’s accounts discovered 296 fraudulent transactions from January  2008 through July 2011. The majority of the fraud involved Gryska forging checks from several of the victim’s operating accounts and depositing them into his personal account with the exception of several checks that were cashed at check cashing establishments or sent to his personal brokerage account, the Sheriff’s Office reported. In total, Gryska stole $157,167 from three separate accounts.

Gambling link eyed in fatal Brooklyn stabbing

One man was stabbed to death and another was wounded in a fight apparently linked to an illegal gambling operation in Brooklyn, police sources said Friday. The violence erupted at 10:30 p.m. Thursday in front of a home on 60th St. in Sunset Park. A 37-year-old man was stabbed in the leg and bled to death. Another man the same age was in stable condition at Lutheran Medical Center with a slash wound on his left hand, police said.

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


EBT Cards are Now Banned at Casinos in Florida

Casino Watch Focus has reported on welfare abuses tied to gambling venues and legislation by various states and the federal government to end those abuses.  Now after the recent aftermath in Florida over internet café’s, Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill that would further clean up the gambling scene.  A local Miami news agency explains:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday signed 36 bills into law including one that bans welfare recipients from using EBT cards at “adult entertainment establishments” like strip clubs and casinos.

The legislation (HB 701) targeting EBT cards created a heated debate in the Legislature.

EBT cards — standing for electronic benefit transfer — are like debit cards. Welfare recipients use them to draw down their benefits.

Critics called the bill offensive to poor people. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jimmie Smith, said that voting against his measure was like “voting for lap dances on taxpayer dollars.”

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