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

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