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.

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