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.

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