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

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