Monthly Archives: August 2013

Disney Prepared to Fight Destination Casinos as The Genting Group Buys Herald Building in Miami

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many continued efforts of The Genting Group and others to bring mega-destination, Las Vegas-styles casinos to Florida.  After early legislative losses two years ago, The Genting Group decided to use a ballot initiative to bring the issue to the voters.  They ultimately suspended that effort in hopes of delaying the process until 2014 after a newly established gambling committee decided to institute a moratorium until a study could be complete.  The Genting Group is moving forward with the resort part of the development assuming the study results will be favorable to expanded gambling. The Miami Herald is reporting that site The Genting Group plans to use has been okayed for demolition:

The Malaysian gaming giant that bought the former Miami Herald site in downtown Miami Monday received a permit to demolish the media company’s former headquarters.

The demolition is slated to take place by the end of 2013, according to a statement released by Bill Thompson, senior vice president of development for Resorts World Miami, which is owned by The Genting Group.

In March, Genting revealed plans for a mixed-use complex with a five-star hotel, luxury condos, waterfront restaurants, retail space and an 800-foot long promenade along Biscayne Bay. Those plans were significantly scaled back from an initial $3.8 billion project, proposed in 2011, that was to include a casino.

Given the controversial company hired to conduct the study, and the plans from Genting to push forward, many groups are see the writing on the wall and plan to fight such gambling expansion.  One of the biggest opponents, Disney, is prepared to defend Florida family values against expanded gambling.  Legislation is still necessary for expansion, the Sunshine State News explains how Disney and others plan to fight:

Walt Disney World officials apparently are pumping vast sums of money into a new campaign to kill enabling legislation for destination-resort casinos in 2014. And they’re doing it by enlisting the services of a small army of traditional lobbyist firms, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and No Casinos Inc.

“Right now I couldn’t tell you exactly how much money Disney is spreading around,” said Nick Iarossi, chief lobbyist for Las Vegas Sands in Tallahassee, “but I know it’s considerable. And I know there is a widespread belief in Tallahassee that they are using No Casinos as a front.”

In an interview Monday with Sunshine State News, Iarossi said Disney has a large piece of convention and meeting business in Florida, and a “fear of competition” from casinos, especially now that Spectrum Gaming Group is conducting a comprehensive multi-part study of gaming in Florida. It’s a study lawmakers hope to use in 2014 to craft comprehensive legislation to regulate the state’s gambling industry.

As part of that study, Spectrum issued a report in July concluding, among other things, that Florida’s family-friendly tourism brand could be damaged if casinos are allowed in the state.

Disney isn’t talking. But it apparently fattened its war chest, Iarossi said, with the idea that this is the year, this is the time, to go all out in opposing integrated resort casinos in Florida.

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

Brief Look at Crime 08/19 – 08/25

Man’s gambling ‘led to wife’s murder’

Brian Bradbury beat his wife to death with a dumbbell inside their Sydney home after they argued about his gambling addiction, court documents allege. He then staged a random home invasion to conceal Lynette Bradbury’s murder on October 31, 2011, the documents say. At the time of his wife’s death there was only $12 in their bank accounts. But when Bradbury, 58, was granted bail in Parramatta Local Court on Wednesday there were hugs and sobs of joy from about a dozen family members in the gallery. His addiction was straining their relationship, police allege, and Mrs Bradbury had to work extra shifts to pay off their debt. “The victim had confided in a family member that she would leave the accused if she discovered him gambling again,” the court documents state.

IT boss who stole £19MILLION from energy firm and blew most of it gambling online

An IT manager has been jailed for seven years after defrauding his employers of £19million to feed his runaway gambling addiction. Jonathan Revill exploited his position at multinational energy firm GDF Suez to order computer equipment, which he then sold on and used the proceeds to place bets online. He would bet as much as £300,000 on a single sporting fixture – and continued to gamble thousands of pounds even after he was arrested. The 38-year-old’s wife was entirely unaware of his criminal behaviour, which included buying a £500,000 family home with company money, and did not know that he had previously been declared bankrupt.

Feds Seize Chinatown Building In Gambling Case

Last week, the federal government of the United States claimed a six-story New York City Chinatown building valued at about $17 million in a case related to illegal gambling. The building’s owner — Won & Har Realty Corporation — had to forfeit the property after it was determined that it was aware of the illegal gambling going on and didn’t take any action to stop the operation. In other words, it wasn’t an “innocent owner,” as it tried to claim. Won & Har will forfeit the building to the United States. The feds will sell the building, retain 65 percent of the proceeds of the sale after accounting for the costs of selling it, and then return the remainder of the proceeds to Won & Har Realty.

Montco DA: Fire dept. treasurer stole $250,000

The treasurer of a Montgomery County nonprofit fire department has been arrested for stealing nearly a quarter-million dollars from the organization and using the money to fly to China and Las Vegas, and to buy jewelry, spa visit and tickets to sporting events. Montgomery County detectives charged Ronald Kenneth Nolan on Thursday with theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, misapplication of entrusted property and related offenses in the theft from the Upper Gwynedd Township Fire Company, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said Friday in a statement. An audit and the criminal investigation found “that the defendant stole $249,703.77 of Upper Gwynedd Township Fire Company funds and used it for his personal expenses between 2006-2012, all while he served as the volunteer treasurer of the organization,” Ferman said in the statement.

Man sentenced in embezzlement of Las Vegas developer

A man who conspired to embezzle millions from Turnberry Associates, which owns several Las Vegas properties, was sentenced today to more than four years in prison. Rocco Lazazzaro, 55, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy of wire fraud. In addition to his prison sentence, he was ordered to pay $3.7 million in restitution, said Daniel Bogden, U.S. attorney for the district of Nevada. Lazazzaro conspired with Hope Ippoliti, 51, the former controller of Turnberry Associates, to steal more than $3.7 million from the company and its affiliates. The company is responsible for Town Square, Turnberry Towers and Residences at MGM among other Las Vegas properties. Turnberry Associates lost a combined $5.6 million. Lazazzaro pleaded guilty to being directly involved in $3.7 million of that total, Bogden said. Lazazzaro used the money for gambling and drugs, Bogden said.

18-year term for man who bilked Catholic order

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno sentenced Sotomayor to 18 years in prison and ordered $1 million restitution – money the judge acknowledged would never be fully repaid.  There have been larger frauds, with more victims and higher losses. But this one struck a nerve with the judge and prosecutor because of its insidiousness and the tragic impact it had on the victims, most of whom live in Puerto Rico.  After losing his life savings, and thousands of dollars in debt, one 78-year-old retiree, Jaime Figueroa, hanged himself in April 2011. His wife of 50 years later was hospitalized in a psychiatric institution. A pastor in Puerto Rico was stripped of his parish and attempted suicide several times. Klotz said casino records showed Sotomayor gambled with more than $1 million at the Trump Plaza Casino in 2010, and $600,000 at Bally’s another year. He also spent $21,000 on his wedding and $6,000 at a New York salon for his wife.

Former Executive Director of San Diego-Based Nonprofit Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

The former executive director of a San Diego-based nonprofit agency designed to help Native Americans find work outside the tribal setting pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing more than $140,000, mostly to feed a gambling habit at local casinos.  David M. Hedley, 38, faces up to 10 years in prison and restitution of $141,260 when he is sentenced Oct. 21 by U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes. According to the plea agreement, Hedley served as the executive director of the Indian Human Resource Center between Sept. 10 and Dec. 11 of last year. Taking advantage of his position as a signer on IHRC’s credit union account, Hedley obtained a debit card allowing him virtually unrestricted access to the funds in one of the credit union accounts, according to court papers.

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

Brief Look at Crime 08/12 – 08/18

Aussie Found Guilty of Murdering Escort

Greek-Australian Steve Constantinou, who was accused of murdering  escort Johanna Jazzy O Martin and appears to be addicted to gambling, was found guilty of Martin’s death according to a recent decision of the Court of Melbourne. Two incidents from Constantinou’s life were presented to the jury in order to reach their verdict. In the past he had tried to strangle his stepmother and had also embezzled thousands of dollars from his former girlfriend to gamble. The latter described him as “a dark and troubled soul.” His statement to the police was full of contradictions and he told many lies. Later he apologized by saying that he was in a state of panic and did not know what he was doing.

 Elks Lodge treasurer charged with stealing more than $120K

The former treasurer for the Elks Lodge in Sebastian was charged Monday with stealing more than $120,000 from the club during a 10-month span, according to affidavits. Police charged Andrew Simso, 67, of the 1500 block of Ocean Cove Street, Sebastian, with organized fraud of more than $50,000. He posted $50,000 bail Monday at the Indian River County Jail. The case was reported to Sebastian police on April 30 after Simso resigned and advised the incoming treasurer about the missing money, the affidavit states. Simso has paid back $59,000 to the club, but told police he ran into problems a few months ago when the state passed a law banning arcades from giving out prizes, said police spokesman Officer Steve Marcinik. Simso told detectives he had used his gambling wins to pay back the Elks Lodge.

700-plus roosters rescued from N.O. East breeder

A woman called the Louisiana SPCA this weekend, declined to give her name and reported some 50 cockfighting roosters in a neighbor’s back lawn. But when investigators arrived at the home Wednesday morning, they found much more than they bargained for. For hours, all day, they rescued more than 700 birds in what the organization describes at the most sprawling and sophisticated illegal breeding operation they’ve encountered in more than a century. They discovered a warehouse full of pens used to cage the birds next to the home in the 14000 block of Chef Menteur Highway. In the home’s backyard, they found another 150 or so makeshift cages, fashioned from 55-gallon drums, filled with roosters. Hundreds more ran free, hiding from rescuers in the surrounding mud and banana trees. But the biggest, most beautiful birds, worth thousands on the black market, were kept in spacious corrals in a climate-controlled shed, with heaters and egg incubators, mating charts and an automated watering system. Each rooster was meticulously bred for the ancient blood sport, which pits roosters with knives strapped to their legs against each other in a fight to the death. In 2008, Louisiana became the last American state to outlaw cockfighting, and the high-stakes gambling that traditionally goes along with it.

Theft of 840K coins sends NY meter-man to prison

From the moment parking meter mechanic James Bagarozzo began his scheme to steal from the machines, his life became overrun with quarters. He stashed them in his pockets, in a sack in his truck, in closets at his house. Over more than eight years, he brought home $210,000 worth of quarters — 10,500 pounds of them — which he dutifully rolled and packed in $500 boxes to be exchanged for cash at banks on his lunch hour. On Friday, a judge imposed a 2 1/2-year sentence on Bagarozzo, who blamed a gambling addiction and an illness he believed would kill him before he built a nest egg for his family. Bagarozzo, speaking purposely but with little emotion, apologized during a brief statement to the court and said he accepted responsibility. “I have hit rock bottom and I have had to come up with my family and friends,” the 58-year-old said.

Three plead guilty in federal probe of illegal online gambling

Eighteen people, including three from Tarrant County, have pleaded guilty to running a multibillion-dollar Internet gambling operation, and the seized assets are being donated to police departments that helped crack the case, federal officials said Thursday. The first check, about $5 million, was awarded Thursday to the Plano Police Department by U.S. Attorney John M. Bales of the Eastern District of Texas and Madie Branch, acting special agent in charge for the Internal Revenue Service. “Taking away the assets from these illegal organizations hits criminals where it hurts the most – it deprives them of their profits,” Branch said. “Today, we are transferring those seized profits from the criminals and giving them back to the communities.” The organization “generated in excess of $5.4 billion in gross wagers resulting in approximately $200 million in illegal earnings to the defendants from January 2007 to February 2011,” the news release said.

Woman admits embezzling $1.1 million

An East Lackawannock Township woman pleaded guilty to a charge of theft Tuesday, admitting that she stole more than $1 million from a local firm. Zacherl created fictitious vendor accounts and transferred money into them 44 times from Oct. 15, 2008, through Sept. 19, police said. She would then transfer the money into her personal account, police said. In an interview with police Oct. 10 – the day she was fired – Zacherl admitted stealing more than $1 million over seven years, police said. She gambled the money away in $10 slots at Mountaineer Casino, Race Track and Resort, Chester, W.Va., police said. The total amount she is accused of stealing is $1,126,763.

Real estate agent stole trust money to gamble

A Sydney real estate agent who laundered nearly $1 million of his clients’ money to feed his gambling addiction will spend at least one year behind bars. Former big-time Surry Hills agent Patrick Scott was jailed this week for siphoning $813,936 from his company trust account, NSW Fair Trading says. The former LJ Hooker director was the sole signatory of the account, and moved the money into a personal account set aside for betting. On one occasion he bet $77,000 from the Sportingbet account in a single day. His total losses over two years amounted to $518,788. Scott confessed to NSW Fair Trading investigators in November 2011, telling them he had a gambling problem, before handing over his real estate licence.

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

Zynga Abandons Plans for US Online Poker and Facebook Expands International Market Presence

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of Zynga and Facebook to enter the online gambling market.  The infrastructure exists because they offer poker games and other gambling games that operate under a coin system.  No real money has been paid out in the United States, but the two have worked in the UK to make the switch to real money gambling.  It now appears that the gaming giant has decided not to pursue online poker, at least in the United States.  An online source explains:

Zynga Inc, the struggling San Francisco based social gaming group, announced that it was abandoning its plans to enter the real money US online poker and gambling markets.  The company said in its second quarter report that: ”While the company continues to evaluate its real-money gaming products in the United Kingdom test, Zynga is making the focused choice not to pursue a license for real money gambling in the United States.”

In February this year, the former Chief Executive Officer of Zynga, Mark Pincus announced that the group planned to bring real money gambling to the American market.  This news placated a jittery investor public who had put their money behind Zynga knowing that it would eventually enter the real money US online poker market.  This fact was also shown through Zynga’s application for a license to operate online poker from the Nevada gambling authorities.

However, last week’s clear announcement that Zynga is abandoning these plans, saw the group’s shares plunge by up to 20%, with investors leaving in droves.

Meanwhile, Facebook is finding success with real money gambling and has decided to expand its operation in Europe.  An online source explains:

Facebook, the social networking giant, will offer real money social gaming in Italy and Spain, reports the publication Telecom Paper and the Italian news agency Ansa last week. Sean Ryan, head of partnerships of Facebook, confirmed the reported plans during the recent World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona, following a successful trial initiative in the UK in partnership with online gambling group Bwin.Party. He confirmed that Facebook is also undergoing a sports betting trial in partnership with the UK’s third largest bookmaker, Paddy Power.

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


Brief Look at Crime 08/05 – 08/11

Man kills grandfather for gambling house away

In a shocking turn of events a man killed his grandfather on losing a five-marla house in gambling and buried him in the courtyard of his house. The police were informed on Sunday that Arshad and his 70-year-old grandfather Arif went missing. The police started a search mission for them. In the meantime, Arshad told his family about the murder. The police recovered the body buried in the courtyard and sent it for postmortem. According to the police, the grandfather had lost a house via gambling that infuriated the grandson and resulted in the murder. The accused is on the run and the police are conducting raids to arrest him.

Aaron Hernandez’s mother charged with helping to run an illegal sports gambling ring in past

It turns out that Aaron Hernandez, who currently stands accused of murder, isn’t the only member of his family with a criminal past. In 2001 Hernandez’s mother Terri was arrested on gambling charges for working as a low-level bookie in a local gambling ring. Though Hernandez , who now works as an administrative secretary at a local school, was charged with professional gambling and possession of gambling records, she never went to trial. A Statewide Organized Crime Investigative Task Force had been conducting a criminal investigation into Hovanesian’s operation since late 2000, eventually executing a wiretap on Hernandez’s phone lines. Within two days the wiretap intercepted more than 200 telephone calls that ‘constitute material evidence of the offenses of professional gambling’ according to Bristol Superior Court court papers

Man kills wife for opposing gambling racket in house

A woman was allegedly killed by her husband for opposing gambling racket being run in the house in Kidwainagar under Juhi police station late on Tuesday night. According to reports, Vinay Singh was running a gambling racket in a portion of his M-block house. His wife Sandhya was opposed to it. According to reports, Sandhya body was found lying in a pool of blood on the third floor of the house late on Tuesday night. Her throat had been slit. Vinay had alerted the police control room and informed them that his wife was killed following a robbery in the house. However, his in-laws alleged that Sandhya was killed as she was against the gambling racket operated by Vinay and his friends in a portion of the house.

High-rolling Vegas figure accused of tax evasion

A high-rolling Las Vegas businessman already accused of defrauding investors of $191 million is facing new allegations that he failed to pay federal income tax on more than $87 million in unreported income. An indictment handed up Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas accuses Ramon DeSage of four counts of wire fraud stemming from casino and bank wire transfers totaling $15.1 million, and four counts of failing to pay nearly $31 million in taxes from 2006-2009. DeSage previously pleaded not guilty to fraud charges in the Ponzi scheme case and is being held on house arrest. He’s due for arraignment Aug. 15 on the new charges. Prosecutors allege DeSage used his companies including Cadeau Express, Beryt and Merits Incentives to defraud investors. A high-rolling Las Vegas businessman already accused of defrauding investors of $191 million is facing new allegations that he failed to pay federal income tax on more than $87 million in unreported income. An indictment handed up Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas accuses Ramon DeSage of four counts of wire fraud stemming from casino and bank wire transfers totaling $15.1 million, and four counts of failing to pay nearly $31 million in taxes from 2006-2009. DeSage previously pleaded not guilty to fraud charges in the Ponzi scheme case and is being held on house arrest. He’s due for arraignment Aug. 15 on the new charges. Prosecutors allege DeSage used his companies including Cadeau Express, Beryt and Merits Incentives to defraud investors.

Clerk gets four years for HWHS theft

An ex-activities clerk was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday for stealing more than $150,000 from the student body at Hanford West High School. Four years is the maximum sentence Kathleen Barrie, 51, could face after jurors convicted her in May of grand theft exceeding $65,000. Family, friends, students and co-workers submitted letters to the court on Barrie’s behalf, describing her as an honest person with integrity. But Judge Donna Tarter said these claims only highlighted Barrie’s gift for fraud, stressing that this was far from a trivial crime. Investigators say Barrie stole $156,620 while working as the school’s student activities finance clerk from 2005 to 2009, embezzling the money from fundraisers, donations and sporting events. Barrie covered her tracks by backfilling stolen payments with freshly acquired funds, falsifying receipts to show that both amounts had been paid. Prosecutors said she spent most of the money gambling in casinos.

Santa Ana church treasurer accused of embezzling $110K

A treasurer at an Orange County church is accused of embezzling more than $110,000.  Prosecutors allege Fiatala Manu stole the money while serving as interim treasurer of the First Samoan Christian Congregational Church in Santa Ana. “It’s a lot of money and I felt bad for the parishioners, because they would come faithfully and it’s all family-oriented. I’m really surprised and saddened,” said Florenda Torres of Santa Ana. Prosecutors allege Manu embezzled the money from church bank accounts over 10 months, starting in October 2011.  Instead of paying the bills of the small church, the 46-year-old is accused of writing checks to himself and making withdrawals.

Employee steals hundreds of thousands from company

Kenneth Miller is a US Postal Inspector. Miller says, “Brenda Helpling was a 20-year employee. She was the controller, so she controlled the finances and the bills for the company.” That was the problem. Assisting Helpling with her crime was the only person overseeing company finances, which made it easy for her to steal. In total she took nearly $400,000. Miller says, “She created fictitious accounts in order to pay her own bills and gambling expenses.” The company realized there was a problem when Helpling went on vacation and another employee noticed discrepancies. Miller says, “Her back-up was looking at some of the payments and she looked at the bills and realized a lot of the bills weren’t companies they did business with.”

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

Florida Senior Cafés Reopening Using a New Model in an Attempt to Distance Themselves from Internet Cafés

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of Florida’s internet cafés.  These mini slot parlors and casinos were definitively banned after a massive operation took down a $300 million internet café.  Owners of these illegal gambling sites put forth a lawsuit attempting to prevent its enforcement, thus keeping them open so they could fight the legislation.  The injunction was denied but that hasn’t deterred certain owners from reopening under new guidelines.  The Sun Sentinel explains:

More than three months after a new state law forced senior arcades into retirement, the low-stakes, adults-only gaming venues are re-emerging across South Florida, with their owners and patrons playing by a new set of rules.

The law doesn’t call for an outright ban on senior arcades, but its restrictions, such as not allowing gift cards to be awarded as prizes, make them less attractive to players. As a result, senior arcades disappeared from South Florida.

In recent weeks, however, about 40 have reopened, complying with the law by offering retrofitted, coin-operated gaming devices and paper towels and cookware as prizes.

Those that operate Senior Arcades claim they are not the same as the more harmful and wide spread internet cafés.  They claim to be operating more like a Chuck E. Cheese that gives prizes based on coupons.  However, they originally dealt in cash gift cards, not simple prizes. Each owner seems to be opening up in different ways and each try to view their business as something other than playing slots for prizes, or gambling.  However, they are still offering prizes of up to $50 in value for 75 cents worth of slot machine credit. The Sun Sentinel continues:

Most senior-arcade managers say they’re trying to work within the law, rather than defy it. At Casablanca Game Room in Lauderhill, players buy at least $10 in tokens, play until they notch 75 cents, and then redeem their credits for prizes worth from $10 to $50, such as a set of nonstick frying pans or glassware. The room reopened on July 10 after being closed for three months.

“I just want the gift cards back,” says William Larkins, 86, of Sunrise. “You have to work much harder to win something now.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 07/29 – 08/04

‘Poker Princess’ who ‘ran multi-million dollar card games in Hollywood is set to reveal secrets of A-Listers – including Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon – in tell-all memoir

She made her name as the glamorous organiser of secret high-stakes poker games for a string of Hollywood’s biggest stars. But now some of Tinsletown’s best-known celebrities are bracing themselves for potentially embarrassing revelations in her tell-all memoir. Notorious poker madam Molly Bloom – who hosted card parties for celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Matt Damon – was arrested in Los Angeles as part of an investigation into an illegal big-money poker ring. But before the glamourous 33-year-old takes the witness stand next year, she is threatening to lift the lid on what went on during those late-night card games, where participants might pay a minimum of $100,000 to join. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued a statement on Tuesday alleging that one of the enterprises in the international gambling scheme laundered tens of millions of dollars through Cyprus shell companies and bank accounts into the U.S.

Andy Ashkar gets maximum prison sentence over stolen $5 million lottery ticket

A son of the owners of a Syracuse convenience store was sent to prison today for 8 1/3 to 25 years for possessing a $5 million New York Lottery ticket stolen seven years ago. Onondaga County Judge Joseph Fahey imposed the maximum sentence on Andy Ashkar on a conviction of criminal possession of stolen property. “Mr. Ashkar, let me tell you something,” Fahey said. “You exhibited some of the most rapacious greed I’ve seen in a long, long time.” Miles has said he took the ticket in October 2006 to Green Ale Market on East Fayette Street, which Ashkar’s parents own. He said he was high on drugs the night before he tried to claim the ticket. Ashkar told him the ticket was only worth $5,000, gave him $4,000 in cash that day and took the rest as the store’s cut, Miles said. Miles filed for bankruptcy two years after he says the lottery ticket was stolen.

 Former head of AADAC defrauded province of $634,000

The National Parole Board has turned down a request from the man who defrauded the province of Alberta of $634,000 while head of an addictions agency. Lloyd Carr, former executive director of the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC), admitted to diverting money from the program into his own accounts between 2004 and 2006 to support a gambling addiction. He was convicted of fraud in 2010 and sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.Carr, 49, also later admitted to using a forged University of Calgary bachelor of social work degree to get a job as a mental health worker with the NOR-MAN Health Authority in Flin Flon, Man., as well as using a fake doctor’s note to obtain sick leave to attend his trial in Alberta.

Senior CPIB officer charged with stealing S$1.76 million from anti-graft agency

A senior officer from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) was charged in court on Wednesday morning for misappropriating S$1.76 million from the anti-graft agency between 2008 and last year. According to the CPIB, Edwin Yeo Seow Hiong, 39, was in mid-September last year suspended and interdicted from his position as head of field research and technical support at CPIB to assist in a Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) probe into his suspected financial impropriety. The bespectacled, slightly plump Yeo, who does not plan to engage counsel, appeared fairly calm as he was read some 21 charges of misappropriating and misuse of funds, criminal breach of trust and forgery.  Eight of these were for misappropriating funds and criminal breach of trust, one was for forgery and the rest were in using part of his ill-gotten gains to gamble at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) casino.

Fire Protection Chief pleads guilty to federal fraud charges

The chief of the Kinloch Fire Protection District pleaded guilty Wednesday to using district money without authorization.  Chief Darran Kelley was accused in April 2013 of the unauthorized use of more than $140,000 between January 2007 and January 11, 2013. He was also charged with making a false statement connected to his receipt of Social Security disability payments, and three felony counts of wire fraud. The indictment had alleged the district had a bank account for the receipt and disbursement of district money. The district received around $160,361 in tax revenue from St. Louis County, which was distributed by the City of Kinloch to the bank account for payroll and operations. Kelley, 47, was accused of participating in a scheme in which he made unauthorized cash withdrawals from the account for personal use, including purchasing various personal items and gambling, as well as transferring money from the district bank account to make payments on his personal credit card

Man faces sentence in $6.5M store embezzlement

An employee who almost ruined a small grocery chain in southwestern Michigan is returning to court for a sentence for embezzlement. Christopher Pratt admits he stole more than $6 million from Village Market Food Centers, based in South Haven. He handled the financial books. Prosecutors are recommending a sentence at the high end of the guidelines, which could mean five years or more in prison. Pratt is back in Kalamazoo federal court Monday. The 42-year-old Portage man had a gambling problem and a love of vintage cars. He lost more than $250,000 while gambling in 2011 and bought or leased more than 50 cars. The government says Pratt’s crime nearly destroyed Village Market. The chain survived, but workers were cut along with pay and benefits.

Costa Rica-based online gambling site was linked to Gambino Crime Family

Deirdre M. Daly, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Frank Potolicchio, Jr., 34, of Norwalk, was sentenced on Wednesday by United States District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to four months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his involvement in an illegal sports bookmaking operation. Potolicchio also was ordered to forfeit $100,000. According to court documents and statements made in court, after a long-term investigation led by the FBI Fairfield County Organized Crime Task Force, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Stamford Police Department, Potolicchio and 19 other individuals were charged with various offenses related to their involvement in an illegal Internet sports bookmaking operation and illegal card gambling clubs in Stamford and Hamden that were controlled by the Gambino Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra. FBI analysis of the sports-betting website utilized by the co-defendants has determined that the total gross revenues of the Stamford-based gambling operation were nearly $1.7 million from October 2010 to June 2011.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 07/22 – 07/28

The gambling addict: Man confesses to kidnapping, selling eight girls

On July 17, Jagirani the junk dealer, intoxicated seven-year-old S* while she was on her way to the grocery shop. He put the young girl in a sack and was speeding away on his pushcart when people of the area caught wind of the incident and informed the police. The police chased Jagirani and caught him near Warah Shakh, some eight kilometres away from Ratodero. In his statement before the Ratodero police, the accused revealed that he was a habitual gambler and had lost a lot of money. His friend, Imran Langah, a resident of Garhi Khairo near Jacobabad, often lent him money with heavy interest for gambling. He said that he owed a huge sum to Langah who suggested that he kidnap a minor girl for him to clear the debt.

Former D.C.-area paralegal sentenced to 30 months in ticket resale scam

A 28-year-old former paralegal who admitted gambling away hundreds of thousands of dollars that investors thought she was using to fund a high-end sports ticket resale business was sentenced Friday to two and a half years in federal prison. Sobbing and wiping tears from her face, Ailyn Roque apologized repeatedly to a federal district court judge in Alexandria, saying that she knew what she had done was “an awful and terrible thing.” She pleaded guilty to wire fraud in April, and authorities said Friday that she had bilked as many as 23 people out of nearly $800,000. “I don’t want to be this thing, this thing that I’m so ashamed of,” Roque said.

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. This reportedly started shortly after he was hired with the organization in 2009 and continued until he was caught and fired in late 2012, according to THV’s media partners at Arkansas Business . 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. ALC Director Bishop Woosley first learned that this activity occurred on October 26, 2012. He placed Mazyck on administrative leave that day and terminated Mazyck’s employment on November 14, 2012.

Man pleads guilty to shooting over gambling debt

A 22-year-old man pleaded guilty to shooting and wounding another man when the victim tried to avoid paying off a $50 bet. Terrell “Baby Boy” Barnes, who was living Durham at the time of the crime but went to Florida afterward, pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury as part of a plea deal Monday in Durham County Criminal Superior Court. In exchange for his guilty plea, the state dismissed charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, discharging a weapon into occupied property and discharging a weapon in a predominately residential area. The victim made an illegal $50 bet on a boxing match in December 2012, said Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Bedford. He returned to his girlfriend’s home after the match and asked if anybody was looking for him, Bedford said. She told him that someone named “Boy” had knocked on the door but left. Later, “Baby Boy” came back to the area, and the victim ran into an apartment, and “Baby Boy” fired three shots into the apartment and hit the victim once in the back, Bedford said.

Police seize 8 million in assets from illegal betting ring

Police from the southern Italian city of Potenza seized homes and assets worth eight million euros across Italy in an operation against a ring allegedly managing illegal gambling and betting, investigators said on Wednesday.  Two people have been placed under house arrest and another seven ordered not to leave town. The police operation dubbed ‘game over’ reportedly uncovered a criminal gang which used rigged slot machines and computer games.  The nine people involved in the investigation are charged with controlling illegal gambling and betting enterprises as well as money laundering. The gambling and betting joints across the southern Basilicata region allegedly offered customers rigged online poker games and slot machines where players had only one chance in 7,000 to win a game, as one of the managers said in a tapped phone conversation cited by investigators.

Italian poker star kills self over $600,000 loss

Italian poker star Alessandro Bastianoni was found dead inside a luxury apartment in Miraflores, Peru Wednesday with reported gambling debts of $600,000.  His death appeared to be a suicide by poisoning roughly 10 days ago, according to local media.   Bastianoni’s body was discovered by his partner Yeinni Ospina, who lives in Colombia, media said.  She last spoke with him July 6 and went searching for him after losing communication.  “He told me he’d lost a lot of money and I could hear a profound sadness in his voice. I tried to cheer him up but it was useless,” she said.

Fosher sentenced to four years in prison

A Bullhead City woman who embezzled more than a quarter of a million dollars from her Lake Havasu City employer was sentenced late Friday afternoon to prison. Susan Ellen Fosher, 65, had been charged with five counts of theft. She pleaded guilty in June to one count of theft with the remaining theft charges being dropped. Under the plea agreement, she faced probation or up to four years in prison. Fosher’s attorney, Brad Rideout, argued mitigating factors that she had no criminal record, her age, her remorse, that she assisted police in their investigation and her admission of an addiction to gambling. Per the plea agreement, Superior Court Judge Rick Williams sentenced her to the maximum four years in prison. Fosher was charged with embezzling more than $270,000 during a four-year period at a Lake Havasu City medical office. She was hired as an office manager for the business in 2007 and began embezzling the money since 2008, according to Lake Havasu City Police Department spokesman Charlie Cassens.

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