Monthly Archives: November 2013

Another Florida Senate Gambling Workshop, Another Dominate Turnout by Gambling Expansion Opposition. Fourth Meeting Lining up with Similar Message

Casino Watch has reported that The Florida Senate Gambling Committee is holding gambling workshops with the intent to gather the local community to share their thoughts on gambling expansion.  A third workshop was held in Pensacola and as a CBS affiliate in Miami reports the anti-gambling/expansion message dominated the conversation:

Panhandle residents sounded off Thursday against the state expanding gambling.

Members of the Senate Gaming Committee gathered in Pensacola where the prevailing opinion was that the state shouldn’t make gaming options more convenient or approve massive casinos, even if they’re just in South Florida.

Emulating the positions of Disney World and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, a bigger concern for a number of Panhandle officials and business leaders is the perceived negative image that would be cast on the state from more gaming, regardless of where casinos would be allowed.

Shane Moody, president and CEO of the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce, said an expansion of gambling in Florida would harm the family brand his tourism-dependent coastal community has fostered.

In anticipation of the forth meeting to be held in Jacksonville, an open letter to the editor written by Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford was published by the Florida Times Union providing a much needed law enforcement perspective:

The Florida Senate Gaming Committee will make its way to Jacksonville this week to give citizens a chance to express their comments and concerns about expanding gambling in our state and allowing large-scale destination resort casinos to open in Florida.

As a law enforcement officer and Florida citizen who enjoys the family-friendly designation of our state, I believe that the costs of these casinos far outweigh any associated benefits.

Independent studies confirm that more gambling means more crime. The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling reports that 35 percent of callers to its toll-free, anonymous problem-gambling help line say they committed an illegal act to support their habit.

The complete letter can be read HERE, where he goes on to explain that  “Casinos would increase crime, burdening the state prison system with billions of dollars of additional costs over a 10-year period.”

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

Brief Look at Crime 11/18 – 11/24

Arrest made in apparent murder of missing Tacoma man

Police have arrested a woman they believe is responsible for the death of a Tacoma man who has been missing for six weeks. Margaret Effelberg has been charged with first degree murder in connection to the death of Santiago Sanchez Cortes, according to court documents. Cortes was last seen at his home on Oct. 1, and his boss reported him missing after he failed to show up for work for several days. His body has not been recovered, but prosecutors say they have evidence that Cortes was murdered at the hands of Effelberg, including confessions to her boyfriend and her neighbors. A husband and wife who lived next door to the suspect told police Effelberg had admitted to them that she “killed a man” and later confessed to the wife “I accidentally killed a man” as she started to cry, prosecutors said. Detectives also interviewed Effelberg’s boyfriend, who claimed he came home one day to find Effelberg nervous and pacing, eventually admitting she killed Castro, investigators said. When the boyfriend asked why, Efffelberg reportedly  replied: “He disrespected me,” according to court documents. Prosecutors said Effelberg was desperate for money, had a gambling problem, and faced eviction. She’s also being investigated for possession and trafficking of stolen property.

Tahoe woman admits taking $130,000

A 46-year-old South Lake Tahoe woman pleaded guilty to embezzlement Tuesday, admitting she stole $130,000 from the Horizon casino at Stateline while she worked as the cage manager. District Judge Tod Young set sentencing for Jan. 7, 2014, for Ana Luisa Sanchez-Demarmolejo. According to a report from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Demarmolejo admitting stealing the money from the casino safe in $1,000 and $5,000 increments. The crimes reportedly occurred between Jan. 1 and Sept. 21. She faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. According to terms of a plea agreement, the state will recommend Demarmolejo be sentenced to probation, and she promised to pay back the $130,000. She reportedly told officials she had a gambling problem, and turned herself in because she felt guilty.

China’s Rich Used Macau To Launder Their Money

A stunning $202 billion in “ill-gotten funds are channeled through Macau each year,” according to The Congressional-Executive Commission on China Annual Report 2013. Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks claimed that the casino and hospitality sector accounted for over 50% of Macau’s GDP but that, “its phenomenal success is based on a formula that facilitates if not encourages money laundering.” And a lot of that money comes from China. Macau casinos pulled in a record 36.5 billion patacas ($4.57 billion) in revenue in October, largely driven by Chinese visitors. In 1999, Macau saw 800,000 mainland Chinese tourists.  That figure exploded to about 12 million in 2008 and then 17 billion in 2012. In 2012, another 11 million visitors came from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Ladbrokes accused over child gamblers and criminality

Britain’s biggest bookmaker warned staff not to mention the words “children”, “smashed” and “money laundering” in company documents for fear of exposing the scale of underage gambling and criminality in betting shops, a former company executive has said. Paul Pearce, who was with Ladbrokes for 48 years and worked in the security team overseeing 2,000 shops from the company’s London headquarters, contacted the Guardian after the paper’s investigation inot how high street betting shops were being used to launder drug money. “The instructions came from the director of security and were to be careful about certain terms because they were discoverable,” said Pearce, who thanks to his intimate knowledge of the industry also wrote the official history of the company.  “The idea, I believe, was to make sure in the future it’d be harder to assess the scale of money laundering or children illegally betting in the shops.” Pearce, 67, said the objectives of the Gambling Act – to protect the vulnerable, prevent crime and allow fair wagering – were widely flouted: “The industry just looked the other way. We had children gambling. We had a lot of violence. By the time I left it was 30 shops a week with machines being vandalised. We were supposed to protect the vulnerable to stop them becoming addicted. But we did next to nothing. It was immoral.”

Two people shot at the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, suspect arrested

Auburn police have a man in custody, suspected with shooting two other men outside the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn Saturday night.  Police said that reports of shots fired came in around 8:45 p.m.  The casino is located in the 2400 block of  Auburn Way South. Responding officer and medics found two men with gunshot wounds near the entrance to the casino.  Both men were transported to Harborview Medical Center in serous condition. Auburn police quickly stopped a vehicle and the suspected shooter was taken into custody.  Preliminary information indicates that there was some sort of altercation between the shooter and the victims.  The shooting took place near the parking garage entrance at the casino, and the victims reportedly ran back to the the casino entrance after being shot. Auburn police said that the shooter will be booked into the King County jail on Investigation – Assault First Degree, Two Counts.

Tenn. attorney sentenced to 18 years in prison

A Tennessee attorney who admitted to stealing $1.3 million from three of his wards has been sentenced to 18 years in prison in a plea deal. Nashville attorney John E. Clemmons received the sentence Friday for three counts of theft, TennCare fraud and perjury, The Tennessea reports. He apparently spent much of the money on gambling sprees at casinos in five different states, authorities said. Without the plea deal, the 66-year-old attorney could have faced a 30-year sentence on the theft charges alone. Clemmons had been entrusted by the courts with overseeing the finances of three people whom the courts had found were unable to care for themselves. Assistant District Attorney General James W. Milam told Judge Steve Dozier on Friday that Clemmons favored slot machines and made multiple trips to casinos at the same time he was overseeing finances of the three people. The victims include the now-deceased father of a severely disabled woman. In that case, the missing money was supposed to go into a special account to care for her.

Hawaii restaurant owner admits to money laundering

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii restaurateur pleaded guilty to laundering more than $1 million in gambling money through his restaurants. Thomas Ky, 47, the owner of Assaggio restaurants in Hawaii, pleaded guilty in federal court to money laundering and agreed to forfeit $1.3 million of illegal Internet gambling money, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday. Twenty-one people have already pleaded guilty for their involvement in the gambling operation, including the admitted head bookie, Felix Gee Won Tom. Tom, 39, and four others have pleaded guilty to laundering money through Ky. Tom and others admitted setting up a phony cleaning business for which Ky paid with the gambling proceeds they gave him. Ky said in court he knew they were running a gambling business and laundered their money because “they wanted to make it look legitimate.” He faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced on May 7. Defense attorney Stephen Pingree said the government agreed to give Ky time to come up with forfeiture money before he’s sentenced.

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

Florida Internet Cafes Might Reemerge and Require Additional Legislative Action

Casino Watch has reported on the ongoing development of Florida’s internet café gambling problem.  The Legislature sent a clear message that these slot parlors are illegal and should stay closed, but several attempts have been made to sidestep the intent of the new law by looking for loopholes in the letter of law.  The Sun-Sentinel explains, that as more and more people try to find to keep these illegal gambling parlors open, the Florida Legislature may need to readdress the issue:

“These people are very sophisticated and the technology is very sophisticated, so it wouldn’t surprise me if we had to go back and take a look at it,” said state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who drafted the legislation last spring and is a key adviser to Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.

Most closed their doors immediately, but now some of those companies are reopening with retrofitted machines and are giving away prizes such as towels or cookware.

The state isn’t tracking how many have reopened, though they are collecting anecdotal evidence.

If legislators want to keep them closed down for good, they may have to keep coming back to the issue.

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

Brief Look at Crime 11/11 – 11/17

Third victim dies in Detroit barbershop shooting

DETROIT — A third person has died following a Wednesday shooting at a Detroit barbershop known for gambling, police said. A group of people were playing dice inside Al’s Place Barber Shop on the city’s east side when gunfire rang out Wednesday evening. 10 people shot at Detroit barbershop, at least 2 dead. As bullets came in, many of the people who were gathered inside ran for their lives, taking cover at nearby businesses, including a party store across the street. Nine people were struck, including two men who were inside the shop and died, police said. The third victim, a 37-year-old man, died early Thursday at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Sgt. Mike Woody said. Detroit Police Chief James Craig was expected to hold a news conference Thursday morning about the shooting.

Bank officer’s murderer a compulsive gambler

The rogue security guard who shot and killed a bank officer is allegedly an Indonesian, a compulsive gambler and could have been in debt before the murder-cum-robbery last Wednesday. According to the suspect’s sister-in-law, two of his three children were in Sulawesi, Indonesia, and he had been sending money to them monthly.  “My sister came to me a few times to confide about the problems they were facing. She didn’t like him gambling and he was lying about it,” said the 24-year-old who only wanted to be known as Sofia. She said although the suspect never mentioned about having any financial difficulties, she suspected the gambling habit and the fact that he has three children to support might have been his motivation for the crime. The suspect is wanted for shooting dead a bank officer and robbing the bank, reportedly of RM450,000.     

Travel agent pleads guilty to holiday cash scams

A travel agent who scammed more than $160,000 out of Darwin holidaymakers has pleaded guilty to all charges against her. In the Northern Territory Supreme Court today, 53-year-old Jennifer Pfitzner pleaded guilty to 11 stealing offences after she pocketed about $168,000 from customers who booked holidays with her Darwin travel agency between August 2010 and June 2012. The court heard Pfitzner would target the business of elderly people and would travel around Darwin spruiking her holiday packages at various senior citizen events. Prosecutor David Morton told the court some of Pfitzner’s customers even turned up at the airport to be told they had not paid for their tickets. The court heard that, of the money stolen, only about $25,000 had been returned to the eleven victims. The court heard Pfitzner had got in to financial strife because of a gambling addiction.

Fla. woman pleads guilty in $8M gambling ring

A 30-year-old Florida woman has pleaded guilty in a New York federal court to laundering $8 million for a widespread illegal sports gambling operation. Michele Lasso-Barraza pleaded guilty Thursday via a video feed from Florida to conspiracy to commit money laundering charges filed in U.S. District Court in Albany. Federal prosecutors say Lasso-Barraza laundered money from Internet websites that allowed bettors to place wagers. Officials say she transferred the money from the illegal gambling business to offshore accounts using sham entities. Lasso-Barraza, a Panamanian national living in Parkland, Fla., faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 when she’s sentenced Feb. 28. Her co-defendant and the gambling ring’s leader, 52-year-old Philip Gurian of Boca Raton, Fla., pleaded guilty last month to money laundering. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 6.  

Carer Beverley Turley stole $950K from depressed man

Turley was originally facing 170 charges relating to $1.7 million but will face the lesser charges after a plea deal. When asked by Magistrate Michael Coghlan if she intended to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges, Turley replied: “Guilty, your honor”.  It is alleged that Turley met and befriended the victim, who is aged in his 60s, at Melbourne’s Crown Casino in 2005. The victim, who was suffering drepression and anxiety, later moved in with Turley, who became his carer. The offending is alleged to have occurred between December 2005 and March 2009. According to the Crown case, the victim was the sole signatory to his mother-in-law’s trust account and over a period of time, Turley allegedly used the internet to transfer money from the trust into accounts accessible to her. It is also alleged Turley helped herself to the victim’s superannuation by forging his signature on cheques. The offending was only discovered following the death of the victim’s mother-in-law when family members went to check on the trust account and found it empty. It is believed all of the money went on gambling.

Former Palms sports book manager guilty in scheme

A former manager at the Palms race and sports book has pleaded guilty in a betting scheme that defrauded the casino of more than $800,000. Michael Albanese, 41, admitted in federal court Wednesday to a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that his attorney said Albanese was a good guy who got mixed up in bad things.  Two other former sports book employees admitted their role in the scheme earlier this year. The scam ran between 2006 and 2007. It rigged wagers on horse races to defraud the Palms. Albanese and the other former Palms employees are accused of using their positions to accept invalid wagers on horse races. Winning bets were paid out and losing bets were refunded.

Banks bitten with $200m stolen by brazen workers

Employees have stolen more than $200 million from the nation’s financial institutions in the past 13 years, with the need to feed a gambling addiction the motivation for more than half the 123 people caught. A new report, Employee Fraud in Australian Financial Institutions, has found 120 cases of fraud by workers nationwide since January 2000, of which 69 instances involved the big four banks – the National Australia Bank, Commonwealth, Westpac and ANZ – as the victims. Five of the total cases involved at least $10 million being stolen, the largest amount being $45.3 million taken by a female financial sector employee in NSW. The most common type of fraud committed was when employees stole funds from customers’ bank accounts and term deposits.

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

Disney Firm Against Gambling Despite Efforts to “Out” Them as Gambling Hypocrites

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on Disney’s support of family values and their opposition to gambling.  As major battles over gambling expansion unfold, Disney has actively stood firm against expansion in Florida and offered a wide range of support to those who oppose.  In an effort to attempt to smear Disney’s image and appear to be hypocritical in their opposition, the New York Times attempted to out Disney claiming they have ties to gambling. The Sunshine State News explains:

Hard to believe for-families Disney could be profiting from casinos, but the New York Times posted a story late Saturday that lays out the “family entertainment” giant’s connection to gambling.

It seems some of the profits from licensing the Amazing Spider-Man and Iron Man slot games you see in casinos across the world come back to Florida’s biggest anti-gambling entity.

In “Gambling Debate Entangles Disney in Florida,” Times writers Lizette Alvarez and Michael Snyder explain that Disney’s piece of the action began in 2009, when it purchased Marvel, its characters and operations. Turns out Marvel has copious licensing arrangements with gambling products, from slot machines to online games to lottery tickets.

At present, Disney-owned Marvel has licensing deals with slot-game makers around the world, with character machines in casinos in Macau, Brisbane, Brussels, Capetown — even Florida.

Disney’s position has remained firm against gambling and they clearly explained that it was their purchase of Marvel that created the connection. They have clearly stated that they have no intention to renew any licensing deals and that once the existing contracts expire, no further link will exist.  The Sunshine State continues:

Disney claims its gambling association was unwanted and just came with the deal when it bought Marvel Comics for $4.4 billion on Aug. 31, 2009.

Said the Times, “Asked whether Disney’s ties to the gaming industry, through Marvel, undercut its position on casino gambling, a Marvel spokeswoman said last week that the company planned to shed its connection to slot machines when the various licensing agreements expire. On Saturday, the spokeswoman added that Marvel had signed its last slot machine deal.” It will take a few years for all contracts to expire, the spokeswoman said.

When Sunshine State News asked No Casinos spokesman Michael Murphy in September to explain how the anti-gambling group justifies Disney’s licensing presence in hundreds of casinos, he said, “From a No Casinos standpoint, it’s been widely reported that the Marvel character images were purchased by Disney long after they were licensed by the previous owners to the purveyors of those games.”

Such tactics should probably be expected when a much beloved and influential group like Disney stands up for families and stands in the way of gambling expiation.  The issue of destination casinos in Florida is far from over, but Disney’s opposition to gambling is not.

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

Brief Look at Crime 11/04 – 11/10

Fort Worth man robbed of gambling winnings before being killed

David Liggins stepped out of a gambling house with a large amount of money in his pockets last month and was robbed and fatally shot in the face. The gunman who left the scene and a second man who organized the ambush after he lost “a lot of money” to the victim were arrested last week without incident, according to arrest warrant affidavits obtained Monday by the  Star-Telegram. Eba Chapple, 36, of Fort Worth, who detectives believe organized the robbery, and Anthony Simmons, 26, of Fort Worth, accused of being the gunman, remained in the Mansfield Jail on Monday in lieu of $500,000 bail each.

Ex-hospital exec sentenced in $713K gambling theft

fired executive of western Pennsylvania’s second-largest hospital network will spend one to two years on a work-release sentence for stealing $713,000 to feed his gambling habit. Fifty-three-year-old Ira Johnson, of Penn Hills, was sentenced after pleading guilty in July to stealing the money when he was the manager of patient financial services for the West Penn Allegheny Health System from 2006 until he was fired in November 2011. The hospital group is now called the Allegheny Health Network. Allegheny County investigators say Johnson withdrew company money to gamble at casinos in Illinois, New Jersey and West Virginia — and eventually also Pittsburgh, where the Rivers Casino is located. Johnson tells his trial judge, “I could leave my desk and be at the blackjack table in five minutes.”

8 people indicted in thefts of $1.5 million

Eight people have been indicted — and two of them arrested — in connection with what federal prosecutors describe as a $1.5 million bank fraud scheme back in 2005 and 2006. According to an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Thursday, the defendants used credit-card transaction devices to impersonate stores, including McDonald’s franchises and a dog daycare in Seattle, and loaded money from the businesses onto prepaid debit cards. They then traveled to casinos in Washington and Nevada to withdraw the money from the cards. Two of the defendants, Robert Antoin Hunter and Dion Marcus Turner, were arrested in the Seattle area Thursday and were scheduled to appear in federal court.  It was not immediately clear if they had obtained lawyers.

Florida: Guilty Verdict Reached in Murder of Casino Founder

Anthony Ferrari, a former owner of a Miami Beach security company who had ties to the Gambino crime family, was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder and conspiracy in the 2001 shooting death in Fort Lauderdale of Konstantinos Boulis, a restaurateur who founded SunCruz Casinos. Earlier this week, Mr. Ferrari took the stand, against his lawyer’s advice, and pinned the murder on Adam Kidan, a business partner of the former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and on one of his own former employees. “I never thought about killing anybody in my life,” he said. “It’s just not in my DNA.” Mr. Ferrari, 56, faces the death penalty when he is sentenced Dec. 16.

Wave of embezzlement cases hits St. Louis region

The lady in accounting at Schnucks headquarters in Maryland Heights quietly pocketed small sums that, over three years, added up to her embezzling more than $111,000, authorities said. A felony theft charge was filed earlier this month. While the alleged theft was brazen — most bank robbers could only hope for such a haul — the case was merely the latest in a series of embezzlement case across the St. Louis region. As prosecutors prepared to file charges in the Schnucks case, St. Louis County government officials were untangling how a manager in the health department allegedly pilfered $3.4 million in public funds over six years. On September 19, one day before he was to sit down with his bosses to talk about questionable invoices, Edward Mueth, 39, committed suicide. That same day, a former town supervisor in tiny Moro in Madison County pleaded guilty to writing small checks to himself for “office expenses” that totaled more than $750,000 over a decade. Also, a former Edwardsville police chief was sentenced for stealing $138,000 worth of vehicle impound fees over a three-year span. Some were greedy, Marquet said. Some had gambling addictions. Almost two-thirds of perpetrators worked in finance or accounting positions. They had their hands on the corporate or public pocketbook.

Cantor Gaming target of money laundering inquiry

Cantor Gaming officials declined to comment Monday on a report that federal agencies are investigating the sports betting firm in connection with alleged money laundering. The Wall Street Journal reported federal agencies are looking at whether Cantor Gaming employees allowed money laundering of millions of dollars of illegal gambling through its accounts. The report said federal investigators are focused on whether the bookmaker accepted deposits it shouldn’t have and failed to report suspicious transactions to the government. The list of agencies investigating Cantor Gaming includes the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Internal Revenue Service; the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network; and the inspector general of the Federal Reserve Board. Cantor Gaming is an affiliate of the New York-based firm Cantor Fitzgerald L.P. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has previously said it’s investigating Cantor in connection with the arrest of former director of risk management Michael Colbert. Colbert pleased guilty in August to fraud conspiracy.

Biologist facing trial on embezzlement charges

A Mendocino County biologist was arraigned Tuesday in San Francisco federal court on charges alleging he conspired with a Yurok tribal member to embezzle more than $800,000 in federal grant funding intended for environmental studies. Ron LeValley, of Little River, entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him, according to court documents. The Yurok tribal member who initiated the alleged scheme, Roland Leroy Raymond, has admitted to spending the money on drugs and gambling, according to federal court documents. Raymond has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to embezzle the funds from his tribe while he was its forestry director. He is scheduled to be sentenced next week. LeValley and his attorney, William Kimball, said they cannot comment on the case at this time. Raymond’s attorney could not be reached for comment. The case revolves around the apparent misuse of federal grant funds obtained for Endangered Species Act biological assessments on Yurok tribal land in Del Norte and Humboldt counties.

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

Critical Testimony about the Addictive Nature of Slot Machines Shared During Florida Gambling Workshops

Casino Watch Focus has reported that The Florida Senate Gambling Committee is holding gambling workshops with the intent to gather the local community to share their thoughts on gambling commission.  Mark Andrews of Florida Casino watch provided critical testimony on the intended effects of slot machines and how they have been designed to make losers of their users:

October 30, 2013

Sen Richter and Committee.  Thank you letting me speak.  My name is Mark Andrews and I’d like to introduce you to Natasha Schull through her book “Addiction By Design”.

After 15 years of research on slot machines, this MIT professor carefully articulates the startling truth about the intent of these machines—and the title says it all, Addiction By Design.  Keep the gambler playing all the way to extinction!

Yes, they exist in this country in droves, raking in fortunes, mostly from people who really can’t afford to lose.  And here in FL we find every form of gambling venue with their hand out for slot machines from you.

Slots of yesteryear were mechanical contraptions involving pull handles and spinning reels.  Today’s machines are complex devices assembled on a digital platform involving up to 300 designers, including script writers, graphic artists, marketers, mathematicians, and all manner of computer science engineers.  The marriage of clever, beautiful, programming and 21st century computer graphics produces psychological impulses in the gambler’s mind that keep him playing, playing, playing—even to the point of extinction.  And all sold to us as harmless entertainment.

In the old days you put in your coin, pulled the handle and saw the result—win or lose.  But today the gambler is fed mental images that for example make him think he almost won.  Mind bending imagery is at work to encourage more and more play.

And the final result:  Big losses, chasing your losses, and finally Addiction.  Howard Shaffer of Harvard Medical School was the first to call modern day slot machines the “crack cocaine” of gambling addiction.

So, let’s connect the dots.  Slot machines are dangerous devices, illegal in Florida and you are being asked to approve them for various locations.  And then Tallahassee will get a cut of the profits.  But for the deal to work out, citizens will of necessity, have to become losers.  High success in this venture will be accompanied by high losses by citizens!  Is that the way we want to run government?  I don’t think so.  It is not worthy of our state to fix its financial problems by enticing its citizens to increase their personal financial risks.  It would be morally wrong to approve more slot machines in Florida.

Please read Natasha Schull’s book, Addiction By Design.

Mark Andrews

Florida Casino Watch

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

Brief Look at Crime 10/28 – 11/03

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.

One dead, 2 injured in Vegas casino shooting

One person is dead and two others have been wounded in a shooting in a Las Vegas Strip nightclub inside Bally’s casino, Las Vegas Metro police said. Police Lt. Jay Roberts told the Associated Press that a suspect is in custody and the victims were taken to University Medical Center. Roberts says the shooting happened before 6 a.m. (9 a.m. ET) Monday at Drai’s, an after-hours club. FOX5 TV in Las Vegas, citing a witness at the scene, said a fight broke out inside Drai’s nightclub at Bally’s Hotel and Casino. The suspect was asked to leave, which led the person to pull out a gun and shoot three hosts, FOX5 reported. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the shooter, who was jumped on by patrons after opening fire, also was taken to UMC. He will be booked at Clark County Detention Center after his release from the hospital, the Review-Journal said.

Mother & Daughter Caught Gambling leaving 5 Children in Car

A mother and daughter were arrested Friday night after Hallandale Beach Police found five unsupervised children in a parked car at the Gulfstream Casino. Angela Pond, 37, and Esharia Pond, 21, were each charged with five counts of child neglect after a Gulfstream security guard found the children, ranging from 1 to 11 years of age, inside a car parked in the south lot, according to Hallandale Beach Police. Two of the children found in the car are Angela Pond’s and the other three are her daughter’s, police said. Detectives said the car was still running with the key in the ignition when the children were found. Surveillance video shows the children were left alone for about 32 minutes, according to police. The five children were placed in the custody of their grandmother/great-grandmother.

Woman pleads no contest to $225k theft

Mukwonago resident Victoria T. Boivin pleaded no contest on Monday, Oct. 7 to three counts of felony business theft, having been accused in June of draining a Brookfield business expense account of more than $225,000 in less than four years. Two more counts of felony theft and one count of misdemeanor theft were dismissed, but will be taken into account for her sentencing on Dec. 9. According to the criminal complaint, City of Brookfield Police were first alerted to the thefts in June 2012. A financial accountant for Brookfield-based Management Research services said that Boivin, 53, had spent more than $5,000 on personal expenses using two company-issued credit cards. Furthermore, she had written to herself 329 fraudulent checks totalling $225,721 from May 2009 to May 2012. Brookfield Police suspected that Boivin had a gambling addiction and subpoened Potawatomi Bingo Casino records. The records showed that Boivin had gambled away more than $100,000 between 2008 and 2012, the complaint states.

Man commits suicide by jumping from Showboat Casino garage

A 19-year-old Neptune man died after falling from a casino parking garage in Atlantic City Wednesday night. Police responded to the Showboat Casino garage, at 11:46 p.m., on Delaware Avenue for reports of a male who jumped, said police Sgt. Monica McMenamin. The man was alive when police and EMS arrived but succumbed to his injuries after being taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, McMenamin said. Police have ruled the incident as suicide and not releasing the man’s identity.

Man Sentenced to 5 Years for Bilking Investors

A San Jose, California man has been sentenced to five years prison time and five years probation for defrauding investors in order to pay off his gambling debts. Thomas R. Papa, 56, represented himself as a money manager for a company called MTJJ via Craigslist.  He would tell potential clients that he could broker deals for property and business loans through private investors. “Private loans are a common vehicle for con artists to scam people out of large amounts of money,” said prosecutor Katharina Wells. “If the loan terms sound too good to be true, it is likely a scam.” Papa had collected over a half million dollars to pay off his gambling debts.  He did manage to pay back approximately $197,500 to some of the victims before charges were filed in June 2012, Wells said. Papa pleaded no contest to nine counts of felony fraud last February.

Former Red Bank attorney gets 10 years for stealing from clients

A former Red Bank attorney was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for embezzling thousands of dollars from former clients and stealing land from the estate of a deceased woman.  As part of a plea agreement, Alexander Iler, 39, of Atlantic Highlands, was also ordered to pay more than $530,000 in a civil judgment and is banned from New Jersey casinos.  “The reality is he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients,” Assistant Prosecutor Andrew Fried said in court.  During the proceeding, Iler stood in the jury box with his hands shackled to his waist. He told the judge his family was been destroyed and that over the past year he only held his 7-year-old child for two hours and his 3-year-old child for 90 minutes.  “My entire life that I had before this is gone, and probably rightfully so,” Iler said. However, Iler also said that checking into a gambling program before his arrest was a wake up call. “I needed to be arrested,” Iler said. “I was headed straight for suicide or something terrible.”

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