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.

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