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.

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