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, Deadspin.com 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

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