Monthly Archives: July 2013

Florida Gambling Study Points to Harm of State’s Tourism with Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ever growing debate of gambling expansion in Florida and the controversial company selected to produce a gambling study for the Florida Legislature.  The company, Spectrum Gaming Group, was paid around $400, 000 and has been criticized as being made up of too many gambling industry insiders.  The first of a two-part report has just been released.  As the Miami Herald points out, it is conceding what most already realize, that expanded gambling with hurt state tourism:

If Florida decides to expand casino gambling, the move could harm the state and Orlando’s tourist brand, says a new gaming report commissioned by the Florida Legislature.

The report, released late Monday, comes at a time when lawmakers plan to review and rewrite the state’s gambling laws, and decide whether gambling should be expanded statewide.

“The brand equity of Orlando has benefits for the entire state” and “expanded gambling may fundamentally change the state of Florida as a place to live and visit,” write Spectrum Gaming Group, a New Jersey-based gambling consulting firm. “Rather than benefitting the state, expanded gambling (especially casinos) could make Florida a less-attractive tourist destination.”

 Some are surprised that the report is pointing out any negative repercussions to expanded gambling, but those in leadership are not willing to make any decisions until the second part of the report is released.  The assumption is that with the focus being more on the financial benefits of gambling in the second report, the company’s bias will be far more visible.  The Sunshine News explains:

“The report does not, and will not make policy recommendations. It will be the Gaming Committee’s responsibility to review gambling statutes, to address the ambiguities, inconsistencies, and exceptions in current law, and to craft an action plan. Over the next few months, we will evaluate Part 1A of the study. Public hearings will be scheduled for the fall of 2013, as directed by the President and Speaker, so legislators have the opportunity to listen to all interested parties.”

Ryan Duffy, spokesman for House Speaker Will Weatherford, had said earlier Monday that the second part was due out in October and would be far more detailed, “more holistic,” addressing gaming’s impact on cities and counties, its costs to social services, revenue projections — virtually everything.

“Absolutely no decisions are going to be made until all parts of the study are complete and in,” Duffy said.

Meanwhile, the Orlando-based group that opposes gambling, No Casinos in Florida, continues to pound Spectrum. In a letter No Casinos sent to Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz, it claims consultants are “too cozy with casinos” and any report would be a “propaganda tool for the casino gambling industry.”

Its still possible that even with the information from the second report in hand, Florida Legislators might choose to hold off on any expansion given the political landscape and reelection.  Bay News 9 explains:

No matter the facts and no matter the risk and reward, the chances of lawmakers doing anything about gambling anytime soon don’t look good.

It’s a safe bet nothing will happen until at least November 2014.

Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet said Tallahassee’s Republican leaders are facing pressure from social conservatives and deep-pocketed companies like Disney not to expand gaming.

“We’re heading into an election year legislative session, when they play it safe. The legislature plays it safe in an election year, next year there are a lot of senators, Republican senators, up for re-election. They won’t be doing anything dramatic with gambling next year,” said Bousquet.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 07/15 – 07/21

Nun gets 90 days in jail for thefts to support gambling habit

A Catholic nun who pleaded guilty to stealing almost $130,000 from two churches was sentenced to 90 days in jail along with other penalties this morning, Orleans County Court officials reported. Sister Mary Anne Rapp, 68, also was sentenced to five years’ probation, 100 hours of community service and $128,000 in restitution payments during her appearance before Orleans County Judge James P. Punch. Rapp faced up to six months in jail, after having pleaded guilty to grand larceny.  She admitted stealing the money from two rural churches between March 2006 and April 2011. Investigators have that said she stole the money to feed a gambling addiction and that she spent that money in Western New York casino.

 Seven threatened to kill Dubai salesman over cricket gambling debt

Seven men have been accused of threatening to kill a salesman if he did not repay Dh40,000 that he lost in gambling in cricket.  The seven Pakistani men — five visitors, a tailor and a businessman — who are aged between 25 and 49, were said to have threatened to kill their countryman, M.A., in Pakistan or in Dubai if he failed to repay the bookmaking funds that he lost over a number of cricket matches in October 2012. “He threatened to kill me in my homeland or to send a group of men to kill me in Dubai. Then my father asked me to go to the shop and he told me what happened. When I was heading to the police station to complain, I received another call from Z.A. He warned me over the phone not to complain to the police otherwise he would kill me,” claimed M.A.

 Woodmen agent in Alabama stole in range of $800,000

An Alabama representative of Omaha’s Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society has pleaded guilty to stealing about $800,000 from investors he had pledged to help save money for retirement. Scott Dees, 52, pleaded guilty this week in U.S. District Court in Mobile, Ala., to using the investors’ money for gambling and medical bills, according to court documents. Dees has not been sentenced; the maximum jail term is 20 years, court papers say. According to legal documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Mobile, “Approximately thirty investors in the Southern District of Alabama sent money to Dees for the purpose of having him invest the funds in a Woodmen of the World investment vehicle. However, rather than invest these funds as promised, Dees used the investors’ money for gambling and to pay for his personal medical bills.” Woodmen of the World, which employs about 575 people at its Omaha headquarters, is a financial services firm selling life insurance, annuities and mutual funds.

Postman embezzles $400k from veteran

A postman from West Seneca pleaded guilty Friday morning to embezzling about $400,000 from an elderly reverend and military veteran. The Erie County District Attorney’s Office says 63-year-old Peter Saraceno admits to  befriending the victim and eventually becoming a joint account holder on one of the victim’s bank accounts. The DA’s office say between 2006 and February of this year, he stole the money by writing checks to himself, making wire transfers to himself and making AT withdrawals all from the victim’s accounts. According to the DA’s office he blamed the embezzlement on alleged depression, post-traumatic stress and his wife’s heart condition. The DA’s office says Saraceno eventually admitted that he used the money to finance his gambling habit, which he says relieved his stress and depression.

 Sewell man sentenced to 8 years for loan sharking, illegal gambling on behalf of the mob

A Gloucester County man was sentenced today to 8 years in prison for his participation in a racketeering conspiracy involving loan sharking and illegal gambling, according to the United States Attorney’s office of Pennsylvania. Authorities said Battaglini exploited the violent reputation of the Philadelphia LCN Family in extending usurious loans and collecting payments on the loans, leaving the borrowers in fear of physical harm if they did not pay promptly. The case was investigated by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, the New Jersey State Police, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration. Additional assistance was provided by the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

Gambling addict threatened to blow up bank

A GAMBLING addict gave a counter clerk at a Hampshire bank a few seconds to hand over cash or he would blow up the premises with explosives he was carrying in his rucksack, a judge heard.  But when the teller refused and said he had pressed the alarm, the would-be robber walked out and immediately phoned the police to say what he had done.  The extraordinary drama happened shortly before 5pm on May 17 when jobless Bryan Dimmick, having blown his money at a bookmakers and then frittered away the last few pounds in a bar, entered the NatWest bank. “He has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. He knew what he had done and wanted to stand up and be counted. He knows he must get a grip on his gambling and must accept what help is on offer. He knows his partner won’t stand by him unless he does.”

Former lottery official pleads guilty to stealing, cashing in winning tickets

A former security official for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to accusations that he stole tens of thousands of dollars worth of winning lottery tickets. Remmele Mazyck, who served as deputy director of security, admitted Friday that he stole tickets that were intended to be free giveaways at the State Fair and other public events. The Arkansas Lottery Commission (ALC) said in a press release the charges allege that between November 2009 and October 2012, Mazyck used his position of authority to steal lottery tickets and cash them undetected. Mazyck cashed 22,710 tickets for a total $478,073, according to the ALC. “His life essentially is not completely over. He knows he’s going to go to jail. He’s just not sure how long. He’s got a baby that’s going to be born in the next 72 hours,” Hall said.

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

Federal Online Poker Bill Introduced

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts to legalize online gambling.  Most recently, Rep Peter King introduced a bill to allow a broad range of online gambling.  Other legislators such as Sen. Harry Reid commented that the bill would not likely move through the process and that it undermined poker only efforts.  Now, it appears that a poker only bill is being introduced.  The Las Vegas Review Journal reports:

A Texas congressman and longtime Internet poker advocate introduced legislation Thursday that would allow states and Indian tribes to legalize the activity without fear of federal intervention.

The bill, titled the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013, marks the second time Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, has tried to push federal Internet poker legislation through Congress. His 2012 attempt stalled.

In interviews after King’s bill surfaced, Barton said his belief was that a poker-only bill had a better chance of passing Congress, rather than full-blown casino wagering.

Barton’s bill would set up a federal system for regulating only online poker. Individual states could opt out of the system, if they wish.

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

Brief Look at Crime 07/08 – 07/14

Sickening New Trend in Dog Fighting Emerges, Called “Trunk Fighting”

This shows us all just how far down into the depths of depravity some humans can go. Call it animal abuse on wheels. There’s a disturbing new fad emerging in Florida called ‘trunk fighting.’ Two dogs are put in trunk, bets are made on which animal will survive and the car is driven around until no noises are coming from the trunk. The ringleaders then open the trunk and see which dog is still alive. One New Jersey lawmaker is trying to make sure there are strict penalties if this ‘fad’ catches on in the Garden State. “This horrific new fad takes animal cruelty to a new level,” says Assemblyman Ron Dancer. “Pitting two animals against each other in a fight to the death for money is sickening enough. Now these criminals have gone mobile.” “They have adapted to law enforcement making raids on fixed locations. As a result, they have graduated to keeping their gambling rings on wheels to avoid the raids.”

 Belize Players Were Asked to Fix Games vs. USA

Reports have surfaced that the Belize national team was approached about fixing football matches against the US team. Remember, match-fixing is rarely about about winning and losing—it’s about conceding goals to ensure bets on total goals and margins of victory, points out. Three players, goalkeeper Woodrow West, defender Ian Gaynair, and midfielder Andres Makin, Jr., claim to have been approached by the man while in the US state of Oregon.  He was described only as an “international”.

Woman Embezzled $1.5M, charged

Federal charges were filed Wednesday against an Indianapolis woman for allegedly embezzling $1.5 million from a local business. Michele Spurgeon, 58, has been charged with bank fraud and tax evasion by the U.S. attorney’s office. According to a release, in the course of five years, police say Spurgeon is accused of defrauding $1.5 million from a Hamilton County business. A release from the U.S. attorney’s office says she would process checks made payable to the company but would withhold some checks and deposit them into a business account for a fraudulent company she created. She would make the checks payable to her employer and adjusted the area businesses’ accounting records. The release also says she spent the money on gambling, credit card payments, mortgage and home equity loan payments, utility payments and cash withdrawls.

 Watch boutique manager jailed for stealing $776K

The manager of a luxury Swiss watch and jewellery boutique was jailed for 51/2 years yesterday after siphoning just over $776,000 from the company. Chua Soh Keow, 49, would collect cash from customers at Piaget in Ngee Ann City – but she did not register every sale, or issue system-generated invoices to every customer. She misappropriated sums ranging from $1,520 to as much as $688,844 during a scam that stretched from 2003 to 2009. Some of the money she took helped to fuel her $9,000-a-week gambling habit, a district court heard. Pleading for leniency, Chua, who was unrepresented, said she regretted what she had done and was “very sorry”.

 Mississippi leads nation in corruption when linked to legalization of gambling

Two economists studied federal corruption conviction rates in states before and after they legalized casino gambling between the years 1985 to 2000. Mississippi tops the list. According to The Pew Research Center, economists Douglas M. Walker and Peter T. Calcagno analyzed the average number of corruption convictions for every 10,000 state employees. The result was four out of the five states with the highest annual rates of public corruption were casino states. Per the report: Mississippi led the list with almost four public corruption convictions a year per 10,000 state employees followed by Louisiana, Illinois and South Dakota. At the same time, none of the five states with the lowest corruption rates had legalized casino gambling during the study period.  “Interestingly, when we examine the individual states’ trends in per capita corruption convictions, we find the trends tend to be increasing both before and after casinos are legalized and begin operating,” they report in the journal Applied Economics. They give two theories for the patterns. The increase in public corruption convictions before states approve casinos shows that the casino industry is attracted to states with what they called an existing “culture of corruption.”

 Schererville woman gets 3 years for theft from employer

A Schererville woman whose theft of more than $600,000 from her employer forced the company to cut staff and wages will spend about three years in prison.  U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen also ordered Laurie Brezinski to pay $659,048 in restitution to her former company, Fidelity National Insurance Co. Brezinski, speaking through tears, apologized for her actions. “I am sorry,” she said. “I am truly, truly sorry.” Along with pleading guilty to the theft, she also pleaded guilty to lying on her income taxes by hiding her criminal profits. She owes the government about $180,000. Brezinski’s attorney, Kerry Connor, said her client suffers from depression and a gambling addiction, which helped spur the embezzlement. She said Brezinski has always accepted responsibility for her crime.

McCrea will serve a year for embezzling

Disgraced former Almont Village/Clerk Sally McCrea appeared stoic Monday afternoon, July 8, as she was remanded over to Lapeer County Sheriff’s deputies for a year’s incarceration in the Lapeer County Jail. In February of 2013, McCrea pleaded guilty to embezzling an estimated $165,278 from the Village of Almont’s coffers during her tenure as clerk/treasurer. At the same time, she pleaded guilty to additional charges of “embezzlement by a public official” and “willful neglect of duty.” “Miss McCrea should be held to a higher standard,” said Schneider. “She was in charge of all of our finances. Her conduct led to increases in our millage, water and sewer rates. These actions cry out for justice.” During the initial investigation, McCrea claimed she needed the money to sustain her gambling addiction.

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

Zynga to Expand Real Gambling Options in the UK along side Facebook: Sights set on the US

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing partnership of Facebook and Zynga to introduce real money gambling into the social media arena.   Facebook has already started allowing real money gambling and will soon introduce sports betting.  The Daily Mail reports:

Facebook will offer real money betting on horse racing and football matches in a major expansion of its gambling operations. The social networking site was criticised last year for launching a range of Las Vegas-style casino games with the promise of jackpots worth tens of thousands of pounds.

It already offers virtual slot machines for children as young as 13 – with real money games advertised as soon as users hit their 18th birthday.

Now it will begin offering sports betting under a lucrative deal with online bookmaker Paddy Power, which was announced last night. The game, called Paddy Power In-Play!, will be rolled out in the coming days. It will only be available in the UK, where gaming laws are more relaxed than in the US.

 Zanga is also a part of Facebook’s gambling strategy, but Facebook appears to be far more important to Zynga’s success. As explained by The Week, Zanga has started offering real money gambling games and their operation will soon be available on Facebook:

At a World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona, Facebook’s Sean Ryan is showcasing two new Zynga games, ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino, according to VentureBeat‘s Dean Takahashi. Zynga “says that social gaming remains its heart and soul,” Takahashi says, “but the gambling games are a logical extension for fans who want to bet real money and win it in social games.”

The first step is conquering Britain, where online gambling is legal and regulated. In April, Zynga released online and downloadable versions of its two real-money games in the U.K., in partnership with established British poker company Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment. Facebook and mobile versions are coming soon.

The Facebook component is key to Zynga’s strategy. Zynga and its investors believe, with some justification, that “the real-money Facebook games could be a game changer, luring in the general U.K. population that has known Zynga for years as a social gaming pioneer,” says Jennifer Booton at Fox Business

 So how will this affect the American Market?  Right now Britain is viewed as a test market to work out any issues and with the current US legislation landscape shifting to States allowing online gambling, Facebook and Zynga could be worth billions in the future.  The Week continues:

Britain is “the ideal test-case for Zynga, with it’s concentration of seasoned online gamblers contributing to a £2.3 billion ($3.4 billion) industry for the country,” says Lauren Hockenson at GigaOm. But the company’s “sights are no doubt set on the United States, which, despite its currently restrictive gambling laws, could be worth $9.3 billion by 2020.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is pushing for legislation to drop all federal regulation of online gambling, leaving it up to individual states to decide what to allow. Nevada and New Jersey — home to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, respectively — have recently legalized the practice. (Nevadans can already play online real-money poker against other Nevadans, and New Jersey and Delaware are setting up their online gambling systems.)

It won’t be a slam dunk getting a chunk of the Jersey or Nevada markets — Zynga needs to partner with a casino in Atlantic City, and only two of the 10 are still up for grabs, says VentureBeat‘s Jeffrey Grubb. But as signs point toward more online gambling in the U.S., Zynga has put itself in a prime position to profit. It has an established brand plus loads of customer data to work with, and Facebook is a great platform for minting new online gamblers.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 07/01 – 07/07

Half a million dollars’ worth of jewelry stolen in Atlantic City casino heist

Three men stole half a million dollars’ worth of jewelry from a store at an Atlantic City casino in what New Jersey police are calling a brazen smash-and-grab robbery. Atlantic City Police are looking for the men in connection to the Monday night heist at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa. The men brazenly broke into the store, stole the goods and fled in a waiting getaway car, police said. The robbers were not carrying any weapons during the heist, said Sgt. Monica McMenamin. The Borgata, which opened in 2003, is a 2,000-room casino-hotel, with four nightclubs, a concert venue, a theater, restaurants and 11 retail stores.

 Four who ran Hollywood, Fla., psychiatric hospital found guilty of Medicare fraud

A top executive and three aides who prosecutors say operated a Hollywood psychiatric hospital like a “brothel of fraud” were found guilty Friday of bilking Medicare by submitting false claims for $67 million. The taxpayer-funded health care program was duped into paying almost $40 million to Hollywood Pavilion, whose chief executive officer and others covered up the “sham” by falsifying patient records and marketing contracts with “dirty” patient recruiters, according to Justice Department prosecutors. The recruiters, many convicted felons, were paid more than $1 million for the patient referrals, prosecutors said.  Eight of those convicted defendants testified at the Hollywood Pavilion trial, including Dr. Alan Gumer, a former medical director at the Hollywood Pavilion facility who is facing sentencing in August for his crime in the American Therapeutic case, and Keith Humes, a Hollywood Pavilion patient recruiter who is serving a seven-year prison sentence stemming from another Medicare fraud offense. Zink said Gumer had $500,000 in gambling debts and had not paid any taxes for years when he was working for Hollywood Pavilion. “He was a weak man,” Zink said, “who was willing to sell his license for money.”

 Chamblee police: $240K seized in illegal gambling raids

Police said they seized $240,000 from more than a dozen DeKalb County businesses during illegal gambling raids Thursday. Authorities raided 14 Chamblee businesses, including convenience stores, check cashing establishments, laundromats and a pool hall, according to a news release from the Chamblee Police Department. Eleven individuals were arrested and identified as employees, and two people were arrested for outstanding warrants, police said. Their names were not immediately released. The raids were the result of a three-month undercover investigation into gambling with illegal game machines, according to police.

 Gambling addict stole $200k from kinder

A gambling addict who stole more than $200,000 from a Melbourne kindergarten he was president of was like a fox in a chook pen, a judge has said.  Periclis Telios, 41, stole $224,008 from the Ward Avenue Kindergarten Association in Oakleigh South between February and October 2012. Telios took steps to get control of the kindergarten’s accounts including removing the accountant and organising for a single signatory to be able to withdraw money, the Victorian County Court heard on Thursday. As of the end of 2011 the kindergarten had approximately $190,000 in a term deposit and $11,375 in a bank account. Once he took over as president, Telios withdrew just over $200,000 from the accounts and transferred nearly $24,000 to his own account online, the court heard. Judge Carolyn Douglas said Telios knew he had a gambling problem and put himself in a position where he was dealing with money.

 $1.2 million seized in raid on Cyber Oasis Internet gambling parlor in Brook Park

Officers seized more than $1.2 million after an Internet gambling parlor raid in Brook Park. Last week, a grand jury indicted 40-year-old Izdihar Najjar on 18 counts including money laundering, gambling and operating a gambling house. Prosecutors said they also raided her Cyber Oasis Internet café on Smith Road, where they seized more than 100 video slot machines. Then on Monday, Ohio Department of Public Safety agents executed search warrants on Najjar’s bank accounts, totaling $600,000, according to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. The Avon woman allegedly deposited another $630,000 into a bank account belonging to a Canada-based company that made the gaming machine software. “This underscores the fact that this is a gambling syndicate and a criminal enterprise, not the mom-and-pop operation that defenders of these Internet cafes would have you believe,’’ said Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Daniel J. Kasaris.

Former councilor sentenced for theft

A former Inuvik, N.W.T., town councillor has been sentenced to two years less a day for stealing nearly $500,000 from three businesses. The judge also ordered Grace Elizabeth Loreen, 50, to repay the money to the businesses. Loreen stole the money over a three-year period to fund an online gambling addiction. The judge said the offence was a breach of trust and that at the time of the pre-sentencing report, Loreen hadn’t stopped gambling. She stole most of the money from Deline Construction. The theft left the company unable to pay employee salaries and loans on equipment, resulting in a loss of up to $1.3 million.

 Toms River public employee suspended after gambling arrest

Authorities have suspended Toms River’s deputy director of public works without pay following his arrest as part of an investigation into a $1 million-a-week gambling ring. The Asbury Park Press reports officials took the action against 43-year-old Anthony Benyola following a closed-door meeting Monday. Benyola is paid $97,142. Benyola and 22 others are accused of participating in a ring that officials say used websites to track illegal bets and record profits and losses. Prosecutors also allege members sold marijuana and prescription drugs. The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office says the enterprise operated in Monmouth, Somerset, Essex and Hudson counties and in New York.  

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

Florida Gambling Loopholes Lead to Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing attempts to expand gambling in Florida.  The Genting Group has been attempting to build mega resort casino’s and has managed to put together a gambling cruise ship as they wait to push the Vegas-style casino complexes through future legislative sessions.  Now it appears that more expansion is taking place through various loopholes in the law.  The Miami Herald explains:

Days after an administrative law judge ruled last month that the barrel races held at a fledgling North Florida racino were not a legitimate pari-mutuel sport, state regulators crafted a license to allow for “flag-drop” races, the first of its kind, to replace them.

In the last two years, the same regulators have allowed for slot machine operators to run electronic roulette and craps games in Miami-Dade and Broward, allowed a dormant jai alai permit to be used to expand the number of slot machines at Magic City Casino, and allowed Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Racetrack to run a one-time race in June so they could offer thoroughbred races via simulcast year-round.

These are just among a handful of decisions by state regulators that have effectively expanded the gambling footprint in Florida under Gov. Rick Scott.  

A newly commissioned gambling study is soon to be released and some will look to expand gambling with its findings.  However, others are hoping it will bring to light various loopholes that can be closed.  The Herald continues:

The rulings have not gone without notice by top legislative leaders who have ordered up a comprehensive study of gambling in Florida. They say they want the debate to include the loophole-driven expansion of gambling, as well as a discussion about whether to authorize destination resort casinos being pushed by the world’s gambling giants.“It behooves the Legislature to walk through all the statutes very deliberately with the goal of possibly rewriting those statutes to add clarification,’’ said Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee that will conduct the review next session.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, a veteran of the gambling law fight who once lobbied on behalf of the Jacksonville greyhound track, believes the Legislature’s failure to reform its gambling laws has led to the inadvertent expansion of gambling.

“There are people who are looking at loopholes and these things expand gambling,’’ he said. “I’m for closing loopholes. I’m not for expanding gambling in Florida.’’

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

A Brief Look at Crime 06/24 – 06/30

Scheme cost 500+ victims at least $7 million

She promised high returns but instead caused high anxiety for hundreds of investors who were scammed out of millions of dollars. U.S. postal inspectors say they caught Kalin Dao with undercover video.  She is the mastermind behind the investment scheme that cost more than 500 victims at least $7 million. Inspectors invested in Dao’s company to learn about her business. “She gladly took my money, sent me regular updates, investment statements categorizing how my investment was doing,” said US Postal Inspector, Robert Strande.  Those documents were all fake.  Strande traveled to Las Vegas to attend an investors meeting with Dao and brought a hidden camera.  He spoke with her about the transparency of her records. Strande says the victims were devastated, ““It completely wiped them out financially. Most of them did not have disposable income.” Postal Inspectors say Dao used the money to finance her lavish gambling trips to Vegas.  She was sentenced to 12 years in prison.  

 Former Hawaii top cop pleads guilty to tax evasion, lying to FBI

A former Honolulu police major who retired in 2011 amid allegations that he extorted money from the operator of an illegal gambling house pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to felony charges. Carlton Nishimura, 57, pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about what he told a prosecution witness and to filing a false income tax return in 2005. He faces a maximum five-year prison sentence for the lying charge and maximum three-year term for the tax evasion charge at sentencing in October. The FBI also claimed that Nishimura received about $6,000 per month in extortion money from the illegal gambling house operator between April 2004 and March 2006. In return for the guilty pleas to lying and tax evasion, the federal prosecutor promised to drop extortion conspiracy, witness tampering and methamphetamine possession charges against Nishimura.

 Bankrupt company director jailed for theft

A bankrupt and disqualified company director, who stole more than $500,000, has been jailed for more than three years. John Henry Ede has been found guilty for numerous charges involving taking money out of a business he was managing illegally, and gambling it away. Ede was handed a consecutive sentence totalling three years and seven months at Auckland District Court following a three week trial. The court heard how Ede took money meant for the company Neil Timber Limited (NTL), which he was unlawfully running, and placing it into the account of Neil Timber Trustees Limited (NTTL). He then spent most of the $501,658 on himself, much of which was gambled. He was found guilty of theft by a person in a special relationship, managing a business while bankrupt, and being involved in a company while bankrupt. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s national manager of the insolvency and trustee service, Robyn Cox, welcomed the ruling. “The sentence sends a strong message that breaches of the insolvency legislation are taken very seriously by the courts,” he said.

 4 are accused in NY of pocketing charity donations

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is charging that the operators of 19 charities that supposedly aided Israel pocketed millions of dollars for themselves. The charities all had names intended to appeal to Jews eager to help Israel such as the Israel Leukemia and Cancer Society.  But Schneiderman charged in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Brooklyn that the four people who ran the charities withdrew more than $2.5 million for their personal and family expenses from 2007 to 2013. According to The New York Times, Schneiderman said the expenses included home mortgages, the remodeling of a second home, car loans, dentist visits, video rentals and a trip to the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City.

 23 indicted in NJ for alleged bank fraud scheme

Authorities in New Jersey have indicted 23 people on charges they allegedly posed as business account holders to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars, withdrawing most of the money from casinos in Atlantic City. Acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman said Thursday those indicted face racketeering and other charges for allegedly stealing more than $275,000 from 14 business accounts at JP Morgan Chase Bank between February and September 2011. Sixteen of the defendants have been arrested. Warrants have been issued for the seven still at large. Most of those indicted are from the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. One defendant is from Reading, Pa., and one is from Roanoke Rapids, N.C. Prosecutors say the complex scheme involved creating fraudulent accounts from which money could be withdrawn.

 Former cop embezzled more than $90,000 from police social club, officials say

A former Lower Heidelberg Township policeman previously charged with stealing $4,900 from the township police union faces new charges of embezzling $92,820 from the Temple social club for the Berks County Fraternal Order of Police. The charges were filed Wednesday against John J. Masciotti, 42, by county Detective Thomas Weaver at District Judge Dean R. Patton’s office in Muhlenberg Township. Masciotti of the first block of Tennessee Avenue in Lower Heidelberg surrendered to authorities with his attorney at Patton’s office for arraignment on charges that include theft and receiving stolen property. Masciotti resigned in July from the Lower Heidelberg police force, of which he had been a member for at least 15 years, after he was charged by detectives from the district attorney’s office with embezzling $4,900 from the Lower Heidelberg police officers association, for which he was secretary and treasurer. Several friends and acquaintances of Masciotti told Weaver that Masciotti told them he had a heavy gambling debt. One man said he once overheard Masciotti explaining that he moved money from one account to another to cover any shortages.

Former Bookkeeper Stole $230K from Brookfield Business, Police Say

A 53-year-old Mukwonago woman, who worked as a bookkeeper in Brookfield between 2008 and 2012, is accused of stealing more than $230,000 from her former employer.  Boivin was working at Management Research Services, 19035 W. Capitol Drive, when she wrote out checks to herself totaling $225,721.89. She created fictitious entries in the books, matching the check numbers to vendors, according to the criminal complaint. She also totaled 45 unauthorized transactions totaling $2,329.47 on one credit card and 66 unauthorized transactions totaling $2,802.18 on a second credit card, the complaint states. Boivin was confronted about the missing money by a financial accountant. She admitted to stealing from the business during that confrontation, the complaint states. The Brookfield Police Department filed search warrants into her player’s cards at Potawatomi Bingo and Casino. They discovered $1.1 million was cycled through her card on the slot machines 624 times between 2008 and 2009. Her current losses are  $196,584.13, the complaint states.

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