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.

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