Monthly Archives: September 2013

A NEW GAMBLING STUDY ARRIVES JUST IN TIME

##FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 18, 2013

 

Now, just days before Committee Week and the Florida Senate’s first meeting to discuss the future of gambling here, comes a new study that could become a valuable guide for lawmakers during their deliberations.  33 scholars have put together their 31 Evidence-Based Propositions regarding State sponsored gambling.

http://www.americanvalues.org/pdfs/Why-Casinos-Matter.pdf

Released yesterday from the Council on Casinos, an independent group of scholars and public policy leaders, is “Why Casinos Matter: Thirty-One Evidence-Based Propositions from the Health and Social Sciences”.  It comes to us from the Institute for American Values, a New York City-based think tank.

“The section on slot machines will let the reader understand how addictive and destructive today’s machines are”, said Mark Andrews, FL Casino Watch.  “Senators will be able to benefit from this research when considering the future of gambling.”

Included in the study is a tough conflict of interest statement that will challenge the thinking of lawmakers who have pro gambling tendencies.  “State regulation of casinos creates a conflict of interest, in which the state is charged with protecting the public from the very business practices that generate revenue for the state and which the state is co-sponsoring.”

Andrews suggests that Senators give this study a prominent place alongside the Spectrum Study and careful consideration to its findings when coming up with the right plan for Florida.

 

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


Brief Look at Crime 09/16 – 09/22

Defence contends gambling debts cost Figliola his life

Frank Figliola was far more likely beaten to death by an enforcer as retribution for his gambling debts than by a hit man hired by his wife, a defence lawyer argued Monday.   Frank was a gambling addict who blew money at casinos as well as through illegal betting and in that world you “pay the consequences” if you can’t pay off your debts. He described Figliola as a “good man who made bad choices” and involved himself with the “type of people whose weapon would be a pool cue” — which was used in the vicious beating. Lacy argued his addiction was so bad, he put gambling before his health. At one point he had to borrow money from his mother to pay for prescription medicines he needed. He suffered from diabetes, among other things.

Billings woman charged with altering gambling machine vouchers

 A Billings woman accused of altering gambling machine ticket vouchers was charged with a felony crime Friday in Yellowstone County District Court. Cassie Ann Rathie, 24, appeared for arraignment before Judge Ingrid Gustafson and pleaded not guilty to offering or obtaining anything of value by fraud or operation of illegal gambling enterprise. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Victorian detectives bust alleged soccer match-fixing syndicate

Victorian detectives have swooped on a match fixing syndicate operating from Victoria’s Premier League professional soccer division. Fairfax Media can reveal that international match fixing syndicates run by organised criminals have been fixing soccer matches in Australia, making hundreds of thousands of dollars on Asian betting markets. An investigation revealed that up to ten European footballers playing professional football in Australia have been recruited by the syndicate. Some of the players arrested have played professionally in the United Kingdom before coming to Australia. One avenue of inquiry being probed by police is whether the players were recruited by the syndicate before flying to Australia. Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton said that winnings on the bets were about $2 million and the players were alleged to have been paid thousands of dollars for their involvement. He said it was the biggest match fixing scandal in Australian history. The scandal will put huge pressure on the state and federal government to concede to long-standing police requests for laws to be changes so authorities can share with sporting bodies information about suspected corruption.

Masonic lodge worker sent to prison for repeated thefts from nonprofit

A Bethlehem man who stole about $225,000 from Masonic Lodge 283 in the city over a three-year period was sentenced to Northampton County Prison this morning. The nonprofit Bethlehem Temple Association twice caught John Lindemuth stealing funds from the organization’s catering business, where he worked. In 2010, an unscheduled audit revealed he had skimmed $55,000 from the books. Rather than report it to police, the lodge kept it in house and made Lindemuth repay the missing cash, said defense attorney Norman Blatt Jr. Soon, Lindemuth, 48, began stealing more money to repay the funds he had already stolen, he told Judge Craig Dally this morning. He also said he’d stole money to gamble, hoping he would strike it big and be able to repay the whole amount. At one point, police said Lindemuth was spending $500 a night on lottery tickets.

When SC lawyers steal, clients’ safety net is thin

Rogue lawyer Richard J. Breibart of Lexington last month pleaded guilty to swindling 13 clients out of $2.5 million but possibly cheated more than 100 clients out of millions more. In Florence, the late attorney John Schurlknight cheated numerous clients out of millions so he could gamble, lawsuits say, and he and his still-living partner, William R. Rivers III, allegedly concocted a long-running scheme that stole millions from clients, according to a federal grand jury indictment. Currently, the Bar’s reimbursement fund, called the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection, has a limit of $200,000 in total claims per lawyer it will pay out. That means that if one lawyer is found to have stolen millions collectively from numerous clients, the most the Bar will compensate those clients is a collective $200,000. The maximum claim the fund will pay to any one claimant is $40,000.

Woman sentenced in church  theft

She was given three years of community control sanctions and was sentenced to 18 and 12 months in jail for a total of 30 months, all suspended except for 18 months. She will serve 12 months in jail, six months EOCC. Charges stem from the theft of thousands of dollars from St. Mary’s Church in St. Clairsville by Webb while she was an employee. Webb’s ex-husband spoke on her behalf and asked Fregiato to consider that she has a gambling addiction. He noted her remorse. Defense noted her prior law-abiding life. Fregiato denied a request for community controls. “I am sending a signal that you don’t steal thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars from someone in Belmont County, especially a charity, and think that you’re not going to jail,” he said. Issues of restitution must also be resolved. Webb admitted to the theft of $20,000. She is accused of stealing $122,000, with a total loss of $130,000 including accounting fees and other expenses.

Big Football Sports Gambling Scandal Hits Australia  

Australia is in a position on the planet that has a time zone that corresponds to Asia. This gives rise to opportunists who exploit time zones and make money doing it. The Australian state of Victoria police deputy commissioner Graham Ashton said Australia was a prime location for match-fixing on Asian betting markets due to its favorable time zone. The team at the centre of the match fixing is the Southern Stars Football Club, which is based in Melbourne’s south-east. This bunch is at the bottom of the pole in the Victorian Premier League this year. This club looks like it is a syndicate club with players who felt there was nothing to lose. It’s a shame they ruined the face of the whole sport for a few dollars. Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton commented that winnings on the bets amounted to about $2 million and the players took a sizable portion as well. The betting included the number of goals conceded as well as other obvious calls. Those who were arrested are British and are mid-tier professional players.

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


New Jersey Sports Betting Ban Upheld by Appellate Court

Casino Watch Focus reported that the NFL, MLB, NHL and NCAA were joined by the federal government in their lawsuit against New Jersey pro-sports betting legislation.  Most recently, a court date was set and briefs were filed leaving the court to deliberate the issue.  Those opposed believe the law is in direct violation to federal law, which limits sports betting to Las Vegas and a few other locations that were grandfathered into the federal law.  The Appeals Court has reviewed the arguments and has upheld the earlier courts ruling to ban sports betting.  An online source explains:

A federal appeals court dealt another blow to A federal appeals court dealt another blow to New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports gambling Tuesday, upholding a ruling that the state’s betting law conflicts with federal law and shouldn’t be implemented. New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports gambling Tuesday, upholding a ruling that the state’s betting law conflicts with federal law and shouldn’t be implemented.

The NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and the NCAA sued the state last year, and the NCAA moved several of its championship events out of New Jersey, though it later relented.

The leagues said the betting law could harm the sanctity of the games. In a court deposition, MLB commissioner Bud Selig said he was “appalled” by Christie’s actions.

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


Brief Look at Crime 09/09 – 09/15

Sanford man pleads guilty to murder at gambling house

A 30-year-old Sanford man, charged with shooting up a house where he’d lost a good deal of money at dice, killing one man and paralyzing another, agreed to a plea deal that will send him to prison for 25 years. Attorneys had just finished picking a jury Monday when Tremaine “Cigarette” Patrick changed course and pleaded guilty to five crimes: second-degree murder for killing Corey Donaldson, 34; three counts of aggravated battery for wounding three other people and one count of shooting into a home. Donte Whack, 29, who was shot in the back and is now paralyzed, was slated to testify. The shooting happened Oct. 13, 2011, at a house on Cypress Avenue. Witnesses told attorneys that the night before, Patrick had lost a good bit of money gambling there and also got beat up during a fight. Witnesses said Patrick had no animosity toward the man who died, that they believed his target was someone else.

Miami attorney sued by SEC in alleged investment scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday announced charges and an emergency asset freeze against a Miami-based attorney and others related to a “prime bank investment scheme” that promised exorbitant returns from a purported international trading program. Prime bank schemes, the SEC said, lure investors to participate in a sham international investing opportunity with phony promises of exclusivity and enormous profits. The SEC alleges that attorney Bernard H. Butts, Jr. acted as an escrow agent to enable Fotios Geivelis, Jr.of Tampa and his Worldwide Funding III Ltd. to defraud 45 investors out of more than $3.5 million they invested in a trading program that doesn’t actually exist. According to the SEC, Geivelis and Butts assured investors that their funds would remain with Butts in an escrow account until Worldwide Funding acquired the bank instruments necessary to generate the high returns promised. Instead, Butts enriched himself, sales agents, and Geivelis, who spent the money on travel and gambling, the SEC said.

Nev. builder gets prison in Navajo home scam case

Nevada-based homebuilder was sentenced Tuesday to 51 months in federal prison for siphoning money allocated for Navajo Nation housing projects in Arizona and New Mexico for personal gambling, jewelry and thoroughbred racehorse training expenses. William Aubrey, 71, of Mesquite, protested during his sentencing in Las Vegas that over the years he built thousands of affordable houses for tribe members. “I apologize for what I guess I caused,” Aubrey told U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson. But he accused the federal government and the Navajo Housing Authority of Window Rock, Ariz., of lying, and claimed that the federal jury that convicted him May 2 wasn’t told all the facts during his two-week trial. Aubrey was found guilty of two felony charges of conversion of money and funds from a tribal organization.

Gamerooms offering illegal gambling can spur violence in community

A 13 Undercover report last week detailed how illegal gambling is going on in eight-liner game rooms all over Houston.  And right after our reports hit the air, one game room was robbed, and at a second, a casher was gunned down.  Violence in and around these establishments continues to be a problem. We took our hidden cameras into several Houston-area gamerooms like this one. What you’re watching is illegal gambling, and it was all caught on our hidden cameras. And at several of these locations, what we found is money flowing freely. When there is a winner, the illegal payout comes. Gamerooms not following the law is a widespread and growing problem overwhelming Houston police. “Obviously we have found quite a few that are not,” said Charlie Dunn with HPD Vice.  And with the money often comes the violence.

Guilty pleas in betting case, forfeited money for Westland police

Westland couple has entered guilty pleas to charges related to a multi-county illegal sports betting ring. As part of the plea, the Westland Police Department will receive over $600,000 from the forfeiture of revenue illegally earned by the couple through the sports betting operation. John Zunich, 70, and his wife Ellen, 68, both entered guilty pleas Monday before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner. John Zunich pleaded guilty to one count of conducting criminal enterprises, also known as racketeering), a 20-year felony, and no contest to one count of failure to file/false taxes, a five- year felony. Ellen Zunich pleaded no contest to one count of failure to file/false taxes, a five-year felony. In a separate criminal forfeiture proceeding, Groner authorized the forfeiture of $609,000 in funds from the couple believed to be derived from the proceeds of the illegal gambling operation. The forfeited money will go to the Westland Police Department, which provided the information which spurred the Michigan Attorney General Criminal Division joint investigation.

Lansing man ordered to pay $164K in embezzlement case

As the terms of Wayne Balcom’s probation were being issued, one of his family members shook her head in agreement as tears fell down her face. The 49-year-old Balcom, who admitting to embezzling from a Holt medical practice, was sentenced Wednesday to five years of probation. He was also ordered by Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk to pay $164,889.06 in restitution to Holt Family Practice. He was charged in March with embezzlement of $100,000 or more, a 20-year felony. In August, he pleaded guilty to embezzlement of $1,000 to $20,000 as a third-time habitual offender. “I misused their trust,” said an apologetic Balcom, referencing his former bosses. “I stand here today to take responsibility for my actions.” Balcom, of Lansing, said most of the money went to gambling. Draganchuk set numerous conditions for Balcom’s probation. They included not gambling and seeking help for gambling addiction.

Father arrested for leaving kids in car while gambling

A 35-year-old father of two is facing child abandonment charges after leaving his children in a vehicle while he allegedly played on a VLT in a local bar. City police say two children under six years old were left unattended in the vehicle for 45 minutes in temperatures hovering around 20 degrees on Sept. 7. Police attended the vehicle after getting a citizen’s complaint and located the father following canvassing businesses near the 500 Block of Rutherford Street NW. The children were found in good condition.

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


PSA: Florida Residents Encouraged to Attend Gambling Meetings to Express Gambling Expansion Concerns

Casino Watch Focus has been heavily involved in reporting the ongoing efforts to expand gambling in Florida by introducing full-scale, Las Vegas mega-resort casinos.  Many groups and organizations such as Disney and NoCasinos, have launched efforts to protect Florida families from the dangerous effects of ongoing gambling expansion.  As unique even will now allow concerned citizens the ability to directly communicate those concerns with Florida Senators.  As an online source explains Public Workshops are being held across the state:

The Florida Senate Gaming Committee scheduled the workshops to gather citizen input about findings in the Two-Part Gaming Study commissioned by the Florida Legislature during the 2013 legislative session. The final report, due Oct. 1, will be published on the committee’s website.

The committee announced this workshop schedule:

Wednesday, Oct. 23, 4-7 p.m.

Broward College, North Campus

OMNI Auditorium

Coconut Creek, Fla. 33066

Wednesday, Oct. 30, 3-6 p.m.

George Jenkins High School Auditorium

6000 Lakeland Highlands Road

Lakeland, Fla. 33813

Thursday, Nov. 14, 1:30-4:30 p.m.

WSRE-TV Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio

1000 College Blvd.

Pensacola, Fla. 32504

Friday, Nov. 15, 2-5 p.m.

Florida State College at Jacksonville Downtown Campus

Advanced Technology Center

101 W. State St.

Jacksonville, Fla. 32202

For directions, see hearing locations in Google Maps . For more information, please visit the Senate Gaming Committee’s webpage 

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


Brief Look at Crime 09/02 – 09/08

Doctor’s credit used for gambling, trips

An Orangeburg physician learned he went on some cruises, gambled and leased cars — or at least his credit card did, according to a Sheriff’s Office incident report. The doctor said the tally has so far come out to be more than $100,000 after an acquaintance gained access to his credit cards. The physician called law enforcement Saturday saying he discovered an acquaintance from out of state not only gained access to his credit cards, but managed to have his name added as an authorized user and had an extra one made for his wife. The physician said he befriended the man two years ago. The man moved to Orangeburg to be closer to his South Carolina friend, the physician. Once here, the man was given small jobs around the office and a credit card to be used for gas only. However, the physician said he found out recently the acquaintance had gained access to at least three of his credit accounts, on which an address change was made to reflect that of the acquaintance. According to the credit card companies, several luxury vacations were paid for using the cards. Records reflect one vacation cruise cost more than $15,000 after a gambling tab was run up.

Tax fraudster used lottery claims to seek $13 million in refunds, feds allege

Orlando Cairo was taking tax refund fraud to the next level, according to a new federal criminal case announced Tuesday. Not only was Miami resident Cairo filing fake tax returns in other people’s names, but he was also claiming they’d won the lottery and were entitled to huge refunds, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office. Cairo is facing a combined maximum penalty exceeding life in prison on 21 counts, including wire fraud aggravated identify theft, altering a treasury check and destruction of records. According to the release, Cairo filed 624 fraudulent tax returns seeking refunds of over $13 million. Cairo had an initial appearance in federal court Tuesday in West Palm Beach. He allegedly filed fake returns that claimed fraudulent gambling winnings and withholdings by the Florida Lottery.

Suspects identified in gambling house murder

Orange County Sheriff’s detectives are looking for two felons in connection with the April shooting death of man who was leaving a gambling house in South Apopka. Keith Cannon, 38, and Gregory Anderson, 25, were charged with attempted robbery with a firearm and second degree murder after they tried to steal from 34-year-old Terrious Mandrell Miles. Miles was emerging April 19 from a gambling house in the 400 block of 13th Street just before 1 a.m. when detectives say Anderson shot him in the presence of several witnesses, said Det. Eric DeBose. Both men are on the loose and have significant criminal records, detectives said. Anderson was released from state prison less than a year ago on drugs and weapons charges. Orange County Sheriff’s detectives are looking for two felons in connection with the April shooting death of man who was leaving a gambling house in South Apopka. Keith Cannon, 38, and Gregory Anderson, 25, were charged with attempted robbery with a firearm and second degree murder after they tried to steal from 34-year-old Terrious Mandrell Miles. Miles was emerging April 19 from a gambling house in the 400 block of 13th Street just before 1 a.m. when detectives say Anderson shot him in the presence of several witnesses, said Det. Eric DeBose. Both men are on the loose and have significant criminal records, detectives said.

Former state senator pleads guilty to federal wire fraud charge

A former state senator who used $63,000 in campaign funds to gamble at a Kansas casino has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of wire fraud.  Former Sen. Brenda Council of Omaha, an attorney, had previously been convicted of two state misdemeanor counts for filing false campaign finance reports. Council entered the plea in federal court. Prosecutors have agreed to seek only probation for Council during a sentencing hearing scheduled for December. Council was officially charged with two state misdemeanor counts of abuse of public records for failing to report expenditures from her campaign account. State law requires that expenditures of campaign funds be disclosed on campaign finance reports. Council stated her gambling problem compromised her judgment.

Blackjack Dealer Bust As She Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

A former blackjack dealer has truly and utterly gone bust in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Misty Lynn White got could get hit pretty hard for her involvement in the scam, where the player didn’t even need to know any card counting systems to be sitting pretty. The games took place at Tulsa’s Osage Casino, where White was a blackjack dealer, but her shenanigans with an as yet unnamed player could have cost the casino as much as $85,000! Her choice of cheating perhaps wasn’t a very smart strategy, as White simply showed the player her hole cards. Well, she should have realized the camera would have caught her sooner rather than later. Indeed it did, but not before the pair took part in an unknown number of games over several days.

Former South Pittsburg, Tenn., Mayor and Co-conspirator Plead Guilty to Conducting Illegal Gambling Business

A former mayor of South Pittsburg, Tenn., and a co-conspirator pleaded guilty today in Chattanooga, Tenn., to conducting an illegal gambling business, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Kenneth Moore of the FBI’s Knoxville, Tenn., Field Office. According to court documents, Killian was mayor of South Pittsburg from 2005 until 2012.  During that time, Killian conducted a gambling operation that involved video gambling machines located at a convenience store he owned in South Pittsburg.  Killian also managed an “outlaw” lottery, in which bettors placed illegal bets on legal state lotteries.  In addition, Killian ran an illegal sports betting ring in partnership with Cole.  Cole received sports bets, collected wagers and paid successful bettors their winnings, and Killian and Cole split the proceeds of the operation. At sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 9, 2013, Killian and Cole both face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Additional Cash Seized In Antioch Gambling Ring Case

Over a quarter million dollars in additional cash has been seized by police as they continue their investigation into a Nashville gambling operation, bringing the total amount seized in the case to over $500,000. The cash was discovered after police obtained search warrants to force open two lockboxes owned by 60-year-old Edna Davenport of Antioch. Detectives with the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Gambling Unit of the Specialized Investigations Division said Davenport was operating a numbers gambling operation. Police said the illegal numbers gambling involved wagering on a daily widely publicized number, such as the close of the New York Stock Exchange.

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


Florida Lottery Blurs NCAA Gambling Lines by Using College Football Teams in Promotion

Casino Watch Focus has long reported that the NCAA has a strong anti-gambling stance.  They have a strict policy preventing players and staff from gambling on games, and they almost always legally oppose expanded gambling efforts that put college games at risk.  Various state are allowed to allow sports gambling, the most notable being Nevada, and they allow gambling on NCAA sporting events.  Florida allows various forms of gambling, including a lottery, track racing and tribal casinos.  Recently, the Florida Lottery introduced a way to use the NCAA name to promote gambling, while not technically engaging in sports betting.  The USA Today explains:

Two of Florida’s long-time college football rivals are coming together in a new contest: To sell lottery tickets.

The Florida Lottery is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars so it can use the logos of the University of Florida and Florida State University on a new $2 scratch-off lottery game aimed squarely at football fans.

The “$50,000 Gridiron Cash” tickets went on sale recently. The game not only features cash prizes, but it will give ticket buyers between now and November a chance to win other prizes, including season tickets and even bowl tickets to games featuring the Gators or Seminoles.

While it has been routine for the Lottery to advertise at football games or promotional events, the USA Today explains that using team logos in this manner is a significant shift in policy and very few have been willing to comment:

It’s been routine for years to have the Florida Lottery advertise at football games and do promotional events with state colleges. But paying to use the team logos on scratch-off tickets marks a major step up.

The NCAA has maintained a strong stance against gambling, but it referred questions to the two schools.

Florida State President Eric Barron said Friday that he was unaware of the ticket promotion until asked about it by a reporter.

University of Florida President Bernie Machen did not respond to a question emailed to him by the Associated Press, but a spokesman for the athletics department defended the arrangement by noting that it has had a lengthy relationship with the lottery.

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