Monthly Archives: October 2013

Featured Article: How Often do Gamblers Really Win?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on various studies involving the impact of casino gambling and how near misses can keep gamblers coming back.  Most people have also heard the phrase “The House Always Wins.”  But rarely do people really look at how much the house wins and how good the odds are at slots or other forms of gambling.  Casinos tend to advertise how their slots pay out huge percentages of money to draw gamblers in, but does that really translate to good odds for a gambler?  The Wall Street Journal examined the issue and provides some interesting information:

The casino billboards lining America’s roadways tantalize with the lure of riches. “Easy Street. It’s Only a Play Away,” screams one in Arizona. “$7.1 Million Every Day. We’re a Payout Machine,” reads another.

But how often do gamblers really win? What are the chances that a gambler will win on a single day or over a longer period? Don’t bother to ask the casinos. Although they gather vast quantities of data about their customers for marketing purposes, including win and loss tallies for many regulars, casinos keep such information a closely-guarded secret.

Now, thanks to an unprecedented trove of public data detailing the behavior of thousands of Internet gamblers over a two-year period, The Wall Street Journal can provide some answers.

On any given day, the chances of emerging a winner aren’t too bad—the gamblers won money on 30% of the days they wagered. But continuing to gamble is a bad bet. Just 11% of players ended up in the black over the full period, and most of those pocketed less than $150.

The skew was even more pronounced when it came to heavy gamblers. Of the top 10% of bettors—those placing the largest number of total wagers over the two years—about 95% ended up losing money, some dropping tens of thousands of dollars. Big losers of more than $5,000 among these heavy gamblers outnumbered big winners by a staggering 128 to 1.

Continue reading the full article can be viewed HERE For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Brief Look at Crime 10/21 – 10/27

Wealthy woman murdered by conmen to feed their gambling habits

Carole Waugh, 49, pictured, who grew up in Haswell and went to school in Peterlee, was stabbed in the neck at her flat in Marylebone in London. Rakesh Bhayani, 41, and Nicholas Kutner, 48, deny murdering Miss Waugh, whose remains were found three and a half months after she went missing. Her s body was found in a car inside a garage on the outskirts of the capital on August 2, with the court hearing she may have died on the night of April 16. “She was a woman who had plenty of money. That was to prove her undoing. “She owned her flat, it was worth more than £600,000, she had savings, shares, jewellery, of which she was proud, and a cash income from working as an amateur escort.” Bhayani and Kutner had a history of tricking and defrauding people to fund their gambling habit and had met through prison, Mr Gibbs said.

Ex-Peninsula gov’t worker charged with theft

A Hayward woman who worked for a San Mateo County water district faces felony charges on allegations she stole $247,000 from the agency to pay gambling debts, a prosecutor said Friday. Catherine Abou-Remeleh, 53, allegedly wrote herself 187 checks from a bank account holding funds for the Mid-Peninsula Water District, where she worked in finance. A health problem in late 2011 led to her going on leave and the subsequent discovery of the theft, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. Abou-Remeleh is due in San Mateo County Superior Court Nov. 12 for her first hearing on the charges, which include theft of government funds, embezzlement and identity theft, Wagstaffe said. She is not in jail and her health problems could delay her arraignment. Her attorney Steve Teich said he hadn’t seen the evidence against his client yet and declined to comment. However, he said she is recovering from the stroke in an assisted-living facility and is expected to be well enough to attend court.

Embezzlement Scheme Uncovered at Bodog

The online gambling firm Bodog has accused a number of high-ranking company officials of perpetrating a scheme to embezzle millions of dollars from its Asian operation. A Bodog representative tells that two former executives of the company set up third party vendors, including payment processors, and used these entities to skim money from Bodog. Alleged co-conspirators include former Bodog pointman Jan Robert Gustafsson and former Bodog Europe CEO Patrik Selin.  Allegations have also been lodged against Bodog CFO Arleen Aldaba, former legal counsel Jennifer de los Santos-Beloso, legal assistant Mary Rose Suanino, office clerk Mary Jane De Guzman and a company driver, Dalmacio Mendoza, according to Bodog representatives, who contacted  Most of the operatives resided in the Philippines, a Southeastern nation rife with corruption.

Former NY bookkeeper faces prison for $800K theft

A former western New York bookkeeper faces prison for stealing nearly $800,000 from her employer over 10 years. Mary Jane Hagler of the Buffalo suburb of Hamburg is scheduled to be sentenced in Erie County Court Thursday afternoon. Prosecutors say the 58-year-old stole money to support a casino gambling habit from 2003 to 2012 while working for Pearce and Pearce Co., a Buffalo property management firm. She wrote checks to herself and used a company credit card for personal purchases. Hagler pleaded guilty in June to grand larceny and offering a false instrument. She’s paid about half of the money back. She faces a minimum of two years in prison because she has two prior felony drunken driving convictions, in 2004 and 2006.

Ex-CFO of tech company sentenced for embezzlement

The former chief financial officer of an Orange County technology company was sentenced Wednesday to more than four years in prison for stealing roughly $15 million from the company. Jean Joseph Ibrahim was given a 50-month sentence and ordered to pay $15 million in restitution, City News Service reported. Ibrahim pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for stealing the money from his former employer, Trustin Technology, which worked with companies such as Apple Inc. and IBM. Company executives alerted federal authorities last year, saying they believed Ibrahim had embezzled millions before he resigned. But Ibrahim took the funds and put them into his own accounts, authorities said. He then spent the money gambling, going on vacations and buying items such as suits and shoes.

2 dead, 2 injured in shooting at possible cockfight in rural Miami-Dade

Police are investigating whether a possible cockfighting ring led to a shooting that left two men dead and two others injured Sunday night in southwest Miami-Dade County. Gunshots rang out about 7:40 p.m. Sunday behind a yellow home in the 19600 block of Southwest 168th Street, a rural, agricultural area dotted with farms and nurseries. The shootings happened in a structure behind the home, Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said.  Investigators say the shooting may have stemmed from a cockfighting ring in the area.  The names of the shooting victims and conditions of the injured, who were taken to local hospitals, were expected to be released midday Monday.  Detectives continued their work at the scene Monday after examining it in the dark Sunday night.

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

Brief Look at Crime 10/14 – 10/20

Boulis murder trial continues Sat in Fla.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Testimony is continuing Saturday in the murder trial of two men accused of setting up the 2001 ambush slaying of South Florida businessman Konstantinos “Gus” Boulis. Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes ordered the weekend session to reduce the overall length of the trial for the sequestered jury. The trial has so far lasted a week. Accused of first-degree murder are Anthony “Big Tony” Moscatiello and Anthony “Little Tony” Ferrari. Prosecutors say they arranged for a mob hit man to fatally shoot Boulis in a struggle for control of the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet. Boulis also founded the Miami Subs chain. The killing happened after Boulis sold SunCruz to New York businessman Adam Kidan and Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Both were later convicted of fraud in that $147.5 million transaction.

Suffolk Man Convicted of Stealing More Than $240K from Hospice Care Network

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today that a Suffolk County man has been convicted of stealing more than $243,000 from his employer, a healthcare network that provides palliative care for patients with terminal illnesses. After three hours of deliberation, a jury convicted Jeffrey Mohamed, 38, of Medford, of two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree. He faces up to 15 years in prison at his November 12 sentencing. DA Rice said that from January 2003 to March 2011, Mohamed, who was employed as the Chief Technology Officer for the Hospice Care Network, embezzled more than $243,000 from his employer. He did so by making unauthorized purchases of computers, televisions, and other electronic equipment through his employer’s accounts, and then either keeping the items or by selling the equipment and keeping the proceeds. The investigation revealed that Mohamed used the money to pay for personal expenses like gas and household furnishings, as well as health club memberships, video games, clothing, gambling, children’s toys, and hotel stays.

Lawyer banned from real estate work after clerk bilks clients

A Hamilton lawyer who ignored the management of his law practice while a clerk stole almost $900,000 from clients has been suspended from the profession. Michael Puskas, who admitted that failure amounted to professional misconduct, was suspended for 20 months by the Law Society of Upper Canada, banned from ever practising real estate law and ordered into counselling for alcohol abuse. Puskas told the profession’s regulatory body that between 2002 and 2008 his life was rocked by a series of upsets — his mother was diagnosed with a fatal illness, his marriage failed and he faced mounting financial pressures that eventually drove him into bankruptcy with $2 million in debts and $2,001 in assets. Puskas, primarily a criminal defence lawyer, said only five per cent of his practice was devoted to real estate law and he left that business to an outside law clerk named Shellee Spinks. He admitted breaking the rules by giving her his password to the online property registration system and access to an old trust account, although he did review client files. With those tools Spinks managed to steal $895,000 over 18 months by putting mortgages against clients’ homes without their knowledge, forging Puskas’ signature on trust cheques and transferring money to her own account. Spinks, who defrauded others aside from Puskas’ clients, pleaded guilty in 2010 to 16 criminal charges totalling almost $2.5 million and was sentenced to four years in prison. The money fed her “pathological” gambling habit and $700,000 was never recovered.

Ex-Glory player jailed for $1.7m tax fraud

A FORMER Perth Glory footballer who defrauded the Australian Tax Office out of $1.7 million to fund a gambling addiction and lavish lifestyle has been jailed for eight years. The Perth District Court was told Cole had set up his own accountancy firm in 2006, but his gambling addiction “exploded” at about the same time. Betting as much as $1 million a year and sometimes owning 10 racehorses at a time, Cole devised a scheme whereby he would use details from dormant businesses that had used his accounting firm to claim GST refunds. Cole would claim amounts less than $5000 so as not to arouse suspicion – with dozens of fraudulent payments extracted every month from 2007 to 2012. After Cole’s company was sued for negligence in 2011 and placed in liquidation, a Major Fraud investigation uncovered what the judge described as a “staggering” deception. More than 770 false claims on behalf of 77 different companies were made, with the money flowing into Cole’s bank accounts and used to fund his gambling addiction.

Former professional D.C. boxer Keely Thompson to be sentenced in wire fraud case

Federal prosecutors are seeking “substantial” jail time for a former professional D.C. boxer who diverted thousands of dollars in government grants to fund his gambling habit. Keely Thompson, former executive director of Keely’s District Boxing and Youth Center, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday and faces more than two years in prison under federal guidelines. Thompson pleaded guilty in June to a federal charge of wire fraud. He admitted using $105,000 in grant funds meant to help at-risk youths to gamble at Bally’s casino in Atlantic City and on board a Norwegian cruise ship. Thompson grew up in the District and fought professionally as a lightweight in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He opened his center in a church basement on Columbia Road in 2004 with help from a local government anti-gang grant. From 2004 to 2009, Thompson’s center received more than $1.4 million in city grant funds. Prosecutors also acknowledge the role that Thompson’s decades-long gambling habit played in his misconduct. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Waxman suggested in the government’s sentencing memo that Thompson receive treatment for his habit.

U.S. deputy nuclear commander fired over gambling probe

The deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the American military’s nuclear arsenal and its space operations, has been relieved from his job during an investigation into issues related to gambling, a U.S. official said on Wednesday. Navy Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, who had already been suspended from his post on Sept. 3, was notified on Wednesday that he was formally relieved. He will also drop in rank from a three-star to two-star admiral because of the loss of his command, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Reuters previously reported his suspension from the post. Giardina is believed to have used at least $1,500 in fake gambling chips while playing poker as a casino in Iowa, the
Omaha World-Herald newspaper has reported, quoting a local prosecutor.

Miners Rest woman stole $425,000 from employers

A MINERS Rest woman who stole more than $425,000 from her employers over a three-year period could face a similar length of time behind bars. Dianna Jane Orlowski, 36, yesterday pleaded guilty in the County Court at Ballarat to the deceitful thefts in which she created fake invoices that she paid into one of her own four bank accounts. Between January 15, 2010, and January 21 this year, the mother of two duped her dual employers, Sovereign Concrete Products and Australian Road Barriers, of $425,558. Her thefts were revealed when a co-worker queried a number of transactions that an accountant had highlighted in an email to the business. The court heard Orlowski, who was employed as a part-time administrative assistant, used the stolen money to purchase a new car, new ski boat and trailer, to pay off a credit card and to fund a $2000-a-week gambling addiction.  Asked in a record of interview on February 1 this year if she gambled the money, Orlowski told police she played the pokies “a couple” of times a week, spending between $500 and $1000 each time.

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

Florida Gambling Study Stalls: Results aren’t as Pro-Gambling Expansion as Some Hoped

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of pro-gambling interests to influence the voters and advance gambling expansion in Florida.  The Legislature hired a biased firm, with clear ties to gambling, to conduct a study to determine gambling expansion’s impact in Florida.  Many questions have been raised and alternative studies have been offered, but the results are in and some are stalling because they don’t like the results.  The Jacksonville Business Journal explains the study indicated only a moderate economic up tick in expanded gambling.  These results possibly allow room to still advocate expansion, but they certainly don’t provide the big impact some were looking for from the study.  The official results are being stalled while questions are being asked.  The Jacksonville Business Journal reports:

A $400,000 gambling report will be delayed because it is too confusing and needs to be reviewed for accuracy, according to Senate Gaming Committee Chairman Garrett Richter, R-Naples.

A draft of the report obtained by The News Service of Florida on Monday and released to the public Tuesday evening concluded that even a full-blown casino wonderland would do little to help Florida’s finances, and could even hurt.

“Overall, Spectrum believes that the expansion of casino gambling, whether on a small scale or very large scale, would have, at best, a moderately positive impact on the state economy,” the draft report said.

While the “vast majority of the report is in its final form,” Spectrum needed more time to “answer questions posed by State Economist Amy Baker and clarify statistical tables related to the REMI economic impact model,” Gaetz, who along with Weatherford signed off on the delay, wrote in a memo to the Senate late Tuesday.

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

Brief Look at Crime 10/06 – 10/13

Desperate gambling addict killed his own wife

Problem gambling can ruin someone’s life, and in some cases it can lead to suicide. David Wayne Reathman and his spouse Barbara lost control over their gambling habit, resulting in massive debts. On one occasion, Barbara told her husband that suicide might be the only solution. Barbara’s suggestion became reality as David Wayne actually murdered his wife. It took him several weeks to work out a plan. He got down to brass tacks after their gambling debts soared again. Reathman murdered his spouse, but the second part of his plan failed. He drove up the hills where he lay down on the ground in an attempt to kill himself due to the freezing cold. The cold didn’t do the job, so he decided to come clean. Reathman went to the police and confessed everything. He now has been found guilty to murder, resulting in a 48-year jail term. “It’s an extremely complicated case, and we think the sentence is justiciable. For all persons involved it may be hard to understand how things got so out of control,” a spokesperson for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office said.

Man shot dead in gambling row

Crime Chief Seelall Persaud has confirmed that police are investigating a shooting death which occurred early this morning on Mandela Avenue during a $500 gambling row. Persaud identified the dead man as Mansford Lewis, a grass-cutter of Sophia. He was shot in the face and back. He said that the incident occurred around 12.30 am and that police are currently pursuing a suspect identified as ‘Kevin’ who fled after hearing that the man was dead. Persaud explained that Lewis was at a shop on Mandela Avenue where illegal gambling takes place when there was an argument over $500. A fight soon developed on the roadway and it was during this time that Lewis was shot. The suspect and a taxi driver, Persaud said, rushed the man to the Georgetown Hospital where he was pronounced dead. It was on hearing this that the suspect fled. Asked if anything is known about the suspect, the crime chief said that checks will have to be done into his background.

Former Warrington ambulance official gets prison in theft

A former Warrington Community Ambulance employee is going to prison after stealing more than $640,000 from the nonprofit service to support a gambling habit. Danette Lewchick pleaded guilty in July to dealing in the proceeds of illegal activity and a series of theft charges after taking $642,741.25 from the ambulance company. She was sentenced Thursday to three to six years in state prison to be followed by 14 years of probation. At her sentencing hearing, Lewchick admitted to blowing it all — along with a half million dollars of her own money — at casinos, including Parx in Bensalem. Lewchick was the ambulance services’ financial secretary in 2008 and by April was in control of the finances. A forensic examination of Warrington Ambulance’s records revealed that between January 2008 and July 2012 Lewchick wrote herself checks to be cashed, increased her paycheck and even made direct withdrawals from the ambulances’ bank accounts, including transactions at an ATM inside Parx Casino. And to hide those illegal transactions, she created fake accounting entries, fake records of bills and bank statements that enabled her to bypass existing checks and balances on the nonprofit’s income. Lewchick said she lost $1.1 million due to a gambling addiction and that she hoped for mercy from the court and forgiveness from the people she cared about. However, her words were meaningless from the judge’s perspective.

Gambling supply owner federally indicted

The former co-owner of Reece’s Las Vegas Supply and five other employees were federally indicted on charges of illegal gambling, tax fraud and obstruction of justice charges. Reece Powers II, who operated the gambling supplies store in Dayton, is alleged to have skimmed money from operating Texas Hold ‘Em poker fundraisers between 2004 and 2011. All six were charged with one count each of conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business and one count each of operating an illegal gambling business. Powers also was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding the IRS and one count of witness tampering. Dyer, Gedeon, Pulaski and Williams also were charged with obstruction of justice. If convicted, Powers could face a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. Pulaski, Gedeon, Williams and Dyer could each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $750,000 fine. Sanders could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Woman pleads guilty in $1.2M scam of Bethlehem philanthropist ‘Linny’ Fowler

A woman charged with scamming the late philanthropist Marlene “Linny” Fowler of Bethlehem admitted Monday she stole $1.2 million for casinos and private poker games.  Shawnta Carmon, 32, of Allentown faces up to 19 years in prison for her role in getting the money from Fowler under false pretenses. “She really was friends with Linny Fowler, but there was a betrayal … largely due to the gambling addiction,” Monahan said. Prosecutors say Carmon stole the money under the guise she needed it for dental work, a college education for her niece and medical treatment for a minor child at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital between 2008-2012.  Augustine said, the money was spent on expensive clothes, jewelry, limousine rides and gambling in Bethlehem, the Poconos, Atlantic City, Las Vegas and private homes.

Former university staffer stole $400,000 to feed gambling habit

former long-time Algoma University employee confessed to her employer that she stole about $400,000 from the post-secondary institution to fuel a gambling addiction, a judge heard Monday. Cynthia Jacobs, 54, pleaded guilty to fraud when she appeared in court.  After hearing a brief account of the facts, Judge John Kukurin adjourned sentencing so that a pre-sentence report can be prepared. Jacobs was employed at the university for 34 years, where she was student accounts officers. During the past six to seven years, she defrauded Algoma by taking money that was provided to the university by a number of organizations for tuition, Crown attorney Dana Peterson said.

Caregiver steals from elderly client to fuel gambling addiction

A caregiver for a Cheltenham centenarian will have to spend time in jail for stealing almost $120,000 from the woman’s accounts. Almost half of those funds were used to fuel the caregiver’s gambling addiction, according to court records. Jeanette McMillian, 64, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to nine to 23 months in Montgomery County prison on felony fraud and theft charges. McMillian will also have to serve another five years of probation after completing her parole time, according to the sentence handed to her by Judge Joseph A. Smyth. McMillian will also have to pay $119,241 in restitution to the estate of the woman who died in April 2012 at age 105. The thefts were reported to police in November 2011 after the woman’s lawyer and one of two people who had power of attorney were reviewing the woman’s finances. The pair noticed that a large number of cash withdrawals were made from the woman’s accounts between January 2007 and October 2011, according to court documents.

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

Brief Look at Crime 09/30 – 10/06

Abducted boy found murdered in Burari, four arrested

The body of a 13-year-old boy, who was kidnapped from Bengali Colony in Burari on Saturday, was found next to a drain in the same area in northwest Delhi late on Monday night. Four people have been arrested. The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of Rs 40 lakh from Jatin Dhingra’s father, a property dealer. Police said the boy was kidnapped to finance the gambling addiction of the accused. Cops claimed to have contacted the kidnappers on Monday but they had allegedly killed the boy by then. Sandeep had run into a debt of Rs 3 lakh due to gambling, and convinced his friends, who also needed money, to kidnap Jatin. “Sandeep and Sunny owned medical shops while Gautam was a medical representative and Mukesh a part-time photographer,” said Sindhu Pillai, DCP (north).

Casino murder: More suspects?

Gauteng police were on Thursday hunting for two more suspects linked to the murder of a man whose body was discovered in the boot of a car at Montecasino at the weekend. Security guards were patrolling the parking lot on Sunday afternoon when they noticed a stench coming from the car. The car had been parked on the fourth floor of the casino since Friday. Maruschka Robinson (24) appeared in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday in connection with the murder. Robinson and her boyfriend allegedly dumped the victim’s body in the boot of a car and left him in the casino’s parking lot on Friday. During the course of the weekend, the pair allegedly stole the victim’s bank cards and withdrew around R35 000. They were caught on the casino’s CCTV cameras. Robinson’s boyfriend was reportedly on the run, but it was believed that a third suspect had also been implicated in the crime. Robinson was expected to return to court in October to face charges of murder and theft. The victim was identified as a resident from Jukskei Park. It was also established that the car belonged to the victim.

Accountant stole from charity to pay for online gambling debts

AN accountant for a charity started stealing funds after spending an astonishing £150,000 on internet gambling sites, a court heard yesterday. Deirdre Gilman was hooked on on-line slot machines and had already borrowed £50,000 from her family to pay off debts from her addiction. The 40-year-old was spared prison after a judge heard that she is now in rehab, and her treatment programme is likely to last for two years. The court heard how Gilman was an accounts manager for the Greatham Hospital of God – a registered charity on the outskirts of Hartlepool. The charity provides residential care, has almshouses and owns a number of retired workers’ bungalows and houses in the village which it rents out.  Gilman was in charge of collecting rents an between February and August last year used a bogus receipt book for tenants and pocketed their cash. Prosecutor Jenny Haigh told the court that after Gilman went on the sick, staff noticed that a large amount of money appeared to be missing.

Arrests in Alabama dog fighting probe grow

The number of people arrested in a multi-state dog fighting investigation has grown to 13. Federal court records show Jennifer Hayden McDonald, of Fairburn, Ga., was arrested last week in southern Mississippi on a conspiracy charge and was released on $25,000 unsecured bond. She has not been scheduled for arraignment in Montgomery, where the federal investigation is headquartered. Investigators seized 367 pit bulls during the initial arrests in late August. Five more were seized recently in Covington County. Now, the number of dogs being held is up to 402 because some of the females had puppies after being seized. The dogs are being cared for at undisclosed locations by the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a federal official said.

Marion official sentenced to 24 months for theft

The former manager of Marion’s water department was sentenced to 24 months in prison for embezzling about $524,000 from the southern Illinois town. Linda Heyde also was ordered to serve three years of supervised release after her prison term and to pay restitution of $524,100, said Stephen Wigginton, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. Heyde pleaded guilty in May to three counts of theft and embezzlement. According to WSIL-TV, the 59-year-old Heyde apologized to the court and her friends and family during Friday’s hearing. She also admitted she had a gambling addiction. During court proceedings, prosecutors presented evidence that Heyde had lost about $234,000 at a casino. Marion Mayor Bob Butler said whether the reason for the theft was a gambling addiction or something else, he’s still disappointed.

Search warrant released in Wheaton Franciscan embezzlement case

A former employee is accused of embezzling more than $1 million from Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. The company says the woman stole from about 850 of her co-workers, and a newly-uncovered search warrant says the woman was rolling the dice in an attempt to make that cash worth more. “We are told by internal and external auditors that this was a very sophisticated scheme, and obviously there was a loophole in our internal controls,” Anne Ballentine with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare said. In a 12-page warrant, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office says the suspect spent the money at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee. According to the search warrant, the suspect told her bosses after she had been caught that she “believed she had transferred about $3,000 to $4,000 in WFH funds during each pay period beginning in about 2006,” saying she had “a gambling problem.”

Gambling Ring Bust Leads Police to Recover Weapons, Narcotics

Police have recovered weapons, narcotics and more than $120,000 after having executed warrants in the wake of an illegal gambling ring bust last week, the Queens district attorney said. Ridgewood’s Benny Maldonado, Woodhaven’s Rosa Rincon, Ozone Park’s Saul Montalvo, Corona’s Daniel Montalvo and the Bronx’s Juan Arisa were all arrested last week on a variety of charges, including enterprise corruption, promoting gambling and possession of gambling records, Queens DA Richard Brown said. But after executing search warrants in the case since the arrests, police have recovered hundreds of narcotics pills, such as Oxycontin and Percocet as well as six weapons, including a 9mm Taurus pistol and a .45 caliber Ruger, and more than $120,000 in cash. “With the execution of these search warrants, we have taken six more deadly weapons off the streets of Queens County,” the DA said. “An investigation that started with illegal gambling has now led to the recovery of a deadly and dangerous combination of guns and drugs.”

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

Florida Needs Credible Information About Casinos


Oct 3, 2013

By Mark Andrews

Florida Casino Watch


Once people examine the impact of casinos, they understand this is bad, insidious business enabled by the government. What Floridians need is credible and objective information. As Tallahassee focuses on how to align gambling policies, the question is: Will Florida lawmakers consider all credible information that comes their way?

If the Legislature’s eyes and ears are open to independent and objective information about casinos, there is no more detailed report than “Why Casinos Matter: Thirty-One Evidence-Based Propositions from the Health and Social Sciences” from the Institute for American Values, a New York City-based think tank. The report, which was written by an independent group of scholars and public policy leaders, points to the expansion of casinos as a contributor to social and income inequality.

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.”

Consider the case “Why Casinos Matter” makes against slot machines. The study points out that:

  • A modern slot machine is a sophisticated computer, engineered to create fast, continuous, and repeat betting.
  • Modern slot machines are carefully designed to ensure that the longer you play, the more you lose.
  • Modern slot machines are highly addictive.
  • Modern slot machines are engineered to make players lose track of time and money.

Clearly, slot machines are destructive to society and are doing exactly what they were designed to do: Create more and bigger losers.  Because today’s slot machines are designed to keep people playing, the states that allow them have contributed to today’s economic and social inequality.

Florida lawmakers should not give casinos a license to flood the state with these machines.  Of course, the Legislature has already paid $400,000 to Spectrum Gaming Group for a report on gambling and its effects on the state. Yet questions about objectivity plague Spectrum, because of its connections to and work with many gambling interests.

I am absolutely opposed to an expansion of casino gambling in Florida because of my experience in Missouri. I moved to the Sunshine State in 2008 after watching gambling emergence in Missouri, the “Show Me” State. And boy, did casinos show their nasty effects.  I watched the effect of casino money on a State that didn’t want gambling in the first place.  After gambling changed its name to “gaming” in 1993, Missourians watched employment in casinos tumble as conventional gambling was replaced with highly profitable slot machines.  Employment promises failed, and harm to families from slot machines skyrocketed.  Here in Florida, every gambling venue wants slot machines; I wonder why?

As a skeptic after my Missouri experience, I will warily watch as the Legislature weighs the consequences of allowing more gambling in Florida.  I hope to be spared a repeat performance of what chaos and harm can occur when government and casinos scratch each other’s back.

Will the Florida Legislature be open to all credible information about gambling? If it’s not, everyone will be a loser. Except casino interests.


Mark Andrews is the president of Florida Casino Watch. For more information, contact


Brief Look at Crime 09/23 – 09/29

Gambling debts sparked fatal 2012 kidnapping for ransom

Yandamuri, 27, who at that time lived in the Marquis Apartments in Upper Merion, readily agreed to accompany detectives back to the Upper Merion police station but not without first cashing in his chips. The location of that episode may have been the harbinger of what prosecutors now believe was the main motive behind a kidnapping for ransom scam that went fatally awry. Prosecutors, in a motion filed this week in Montgomery County Court, claim that Yandamuri’s “past and recent history of significant gambling debts represent one motive for his scheme to kidnap for ransom 10-month-old Saanvi Venna, a scheme that ultimately resulted” in the murders of Saanvi and her grandmother, Satyavathi Venna. The motion is seeking court permission to introduce Yandamuri’s gambling problems at his murder trial. Yandamuri, who has been held without bail in the county prison since his Oct. 26 arrest, is charged with first- and second-degree murder, kidnapping and related offenses for the suffocation death of Saanvi and the stabbing death of her grandmother. The prosecution has said it will seek the death penalty for Yandamuri if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

Gambling addiction linked to 128 suicides in Victoria

Gambling addiction was a contributing factor in nearly 130 suicides in Victoria over the past decade, according to figures released by the Victorian coroner. The report identified 128 gambling-related suicides between January 2000 and December 2012. Almost all – 126 – were of people with a gambling addiction, while two were of people who were adversely affected by a partner’s problem gambling. Men accounted for 84% of the suicide toll, with the figure peaking for those aged between 30 and 39. While the coroner could not identify the type of gambling engaged in by 105 of the people who took their lives, of the remaining 23 deaths, 19 were linked to poker machine addiction. Two deaths were linked to TAB gambling, one to online gambling and one to roulette wheels. In addition to the suicides, the coroner reported two murders linked to problem gambling, in which someone with a gambling addiction killed their partner before committing suicide.

State Alleges Executive Director Stole $200,000 From Community Group

The state has filed a lawsuit against the former executive director of a disbanded North End community group, charging she stole more than $200,000 in charitable donations and spent most of it gambling at the state’s casinos. Karen O. Lewis , a Windsor resident, served as executive director of SAND—the South Arsenal Neighborhood Development Corp.–from at least January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2009. State Attorney General George Jepsen, in conjunction with state Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubinstein, is seeking to recoup the funds. Jepsen has also referred the matter to the chief state’s attorney’s office, which has the authority to file criminal charges. Jepsen said the case is part of a renewed focus by his office to crack down on thefts from charities and non-profits. “We take this stuff very seriously,” he said. The office has recently increased the number of lawyers dedicated to such cases from two to three. The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against Lewis, barring her from holding “any office, directorship or position of employment or any other association with a charitable organization in Connecticut where she will have control of the funds of the organization or authorization over the disbursement of funds.” The lawsuit also seeks forfeiture of all ill-gotten gains and civil penalties.

Former Blaine bank teller repays $150,000 stolen from elderly woman

BELLINGHAM – A former gambling addict has paid back $150,000 she swindled from a blind elderly widow in Whatcom County. The money will go to the victim’s family because Maude Krenz, who was born in Sedro-Woolley in 1922, died this year at the age of 91. Lorraine Kay Sterk, 56, of Custer, faces a month in behind bars and a month of community service for draining Krenz’s five-figure CD and several other bank accounts. Sterk served as Krenz’s go-to bank teller at a Horizon Bank branch in Blaine for many years. Toward the end of her life, Krenz’s eyesight faded. She was legally blind. So Sterk, a friend of the family, got power of attorney from close relatives to take care of her money, according to records filed in Whatcom County Superior Court. But by the summer of 2011, unbeknownst to anyone but Sterk, those finances were in tatters. She had transferred up to $16,000 a month into her own account over the course of two years. Most, or all, of the stolen money she spent at casinos. Civil court records show Maude Krenz left behind only $44.60 in an account that started with close to $182,000.

Prosecutors say Ponzi scheme run by W. Roxbury family pilfered more than $10 million

A grand jury handed up new indictments Wednesday in the scheme that increased the amount allegedly stolen by Steven and Lori Palladino, who had been previously charged, and added their son, Gregory Palladino, to the case, prosecutors said. “This is among the largest investment scams we’ve seen since Charles Ponzi’s scheme right here in Boston almost 100 years ago,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a statement. “The losses here are staggering, and many of the victims are ordinary men and women who have seen their assets disappear overnight.” The money was often allegedly transferred from the company’s account into personal accounts of the Palladinos. The money was then spent on items such as luxury vehicles, a vacation in the Bahamas, rent for Steven Palladino’s mistress, and payments to casinos to cover apparent gambling losses, prosecutors alleged.

Glidden woman faces charges for embezzling

A Glidden, Wis., woman was charged with one count mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and five counts of filing false income tax returns in federal court in Wisconsin. According to the allegations in the indictment: Hall worked at Lakewoods from Nov. 1, 1998, to Jan. 13, 2012, as chief financial officer. Beginning in January 2006, Hall embezzled funds from the homeowners’ associations and PNE bank accounts by presenting checks for signature with incorrect invoices, altered the payee line on checks after signed and procured an unauthorized signature stamp in the name of one of the corporate managers and used it to sign checks she prepared payable to herself.  Hall is accused of using the embezzled funds for her own personal purposes, which included funding gambling activity and vacation trips to Mexico and the Caribbean. It is believed Hall embezzled more than $702,000 between 2006 and 2012.

‘Psychic’ blew money at casinos, on fancy cars and waterfront home

Prosecutors say Rose Marks ripped off $25 million from her clients, then blew the money on slot machines, a waterfront home in Fort Lauderdale and exotic cars for her family — while cheating the IRS on her income taxes. Federal prosecutors finished presenting their case against Marks on Thursday after spending the last few days calling witnesses they hope will convince the jury that Marks controlled the purse strings and was the ringleader of her family’s psychic fraud conspiracy. Whatever the jury decides, some of the figures and statistics tossed around in court were staggering. Marks, who has not yet decided if she will testify in her defense, told the Sun Sentinel on Thursday that she had a gambling problem. She said it got out of control when her 7-year-old grandson and her husband died within a few years of each other in the early to mid-2000s. Marks underreported her income by millions of dollars over the years, prosecutors said.

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