Brief Look at Crime 12/16 – 12/22

2 plead guilty to killing S. Cal casino winner

A man and woman have pleaded guilty to killing a gambler they followed after he won $10,000 at a Southern California casino. Orange County prosecutors say Tad Carroll pleaded Friday to first-degree murder. Barbara Ann Hamel pleaded to second-degree murder. Authorities say the pair planned to rob winners at the Hawaiian Gardens Casino in September of 2010. Prosecutors said they followed 55-year-old Chi Bui and confronted him when he stopped his car to drop off a friend at her Santa Ana home. Authorities say Carroll knocked down Bui and Hamel drove over his head, killing him instantly. A third defendant, Michael Ross of Long Beach, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in September. He was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Former poker game hostess pleads guilty in NY

NEW YORK — A former high-stakes poker game hostess pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges she helped run underground games for Wall Street financiers and celebrities in guest rooms at The Plaza hotel. Molly Bloom was among more than 30 people charged earlier this year in a sprawling scheme by two related Russian-American organized crime enterprises, authorities said. In recent years the operations laundered at least $100 million in proceeds from an illegal sports betting operation that catered largely to superrich Russians, prosecutors said. U.S. authorities following a trans-Atlantic money trail uncovered the poker games in New York. They said the players included professional athletes, Hollywood luminaries and business executives, some of whom ran up debts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they gave no names. Bloom told a judge in federal court in Manhattan that she and others running the games at The Plaza, a luxurious landmark on the southern edge of Central Park, collected a cut of the pot, a fee known as a rake. Playing poker is legal, but organizing games for profit is against state law.

PA Suspect Charged With Embezzling From Credit Union, Bank

The former manager of a credit union and a bank accused of embezzling more than $250,000 is facing criminal charges in two Pennsylvania courtrooms – in two separate cases. Tiffany Kay Look, 39, is accused of stealing more than $135,000 from the $2.5 billion Members 1st FCU  in Mechanicsburg, Penn., earlier this year and $115,000 from Mid Penn Bank in 2010, according to court documents. Look is accused of taking out fraudulent loans and stealing from accounts, including from a dead woman’s estate. She joins a growing list of credit union managers accused of dipping into credit union coffers for personal expenses. Look, who was manager at Members 1st FCU’s branch on Market Street in Camp Hill, Penn., waived a preliminary hearing Dec. 11 in Cumberland County Court on the credit union case. Although she initially denied taking out the loans, Look later confessed to police that some of the missing funds were spent at casinos, said court documents.

Man dies from injuries sustained during fight in Laughlin

A man who was struck several times in the face during a fight in Laughlin died Sunday from his injuries, Las Vegas police said. Police responded Wednesday afternoon to the 1900 block of South Casino Drive, near the Aquarius Casino Resort, and found an unconscious man bleeding from his face. An investigation determined the victim, 59-year-old Joseph Chernowsky, and the suspect, 54-year-old Michael Dean Dymond, knew each other before the fight began, according to police reports. Chernowsky was transported to University Medical Center in Las Vegas in critical condition where he died. Police arrested Dymond on Thursday and booked him into the Clark County Detention Center on felony battery charges.

Real Estate agent steals millions and feeds them into poker machines

A Warilla real estate agent has confessed to fleecing cash from her company’s trust funds to subsidise a multimillion-dollar gambling habit. Megan Harrod admitted to stealing from her company Harrods Real Estate between 2010 and 2012, pouring the cash into poker machines at Wests Illawarra and the Shellharbour Club. NSW Fair Trading alleges the total amount taken was more than $1.5 million, however Harrod’s lawyer yesterday indicated she disputed that amount. Records from both clubs, obtained by Fair Trading, revealed Harrod gambled $10.1 million on poker machines over about a seven-year period, including the years she was swindling from the company. The records show Harrod won a combined $9.1 million during the same period. Her fraudulent run was eventually halted by her father, Jim Harrod, who reported his daughter’s crimes to Fair Trading in early 2012. The family has since repaid almost two-thirds of the outstanding money.

Man Steals $2.5 Million For Fake Walmart, Gambles it Away at Casino

Federal investigators say Ronald Roberts, 53, stole millions of dollars pretending to buy real estate for a future Walmart store and instead gambled the money away at a south county casino. The FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating the Town & Country man for three felony counts of wire fraud and one felony count of mail fraud. Roberts turned himself in Tuesday after a federal grand jury indicted him December 11. Roberts stole $2.5 million from lenders by pretending he was buying land he would later sell to Walmart, says the U.S. attorney’s office. He told victims he’d earn between $7 million and $22 million once the land became the site for Poplar Bluff’s second Walmart, but instead he used the money for gambling at River City Casino. Roberts’ real estate transactions were made up, and the property he was pretending to buy is worth substantially less than he told lenders. There is no news of a second Walmart coming to Poplar Bluff.

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

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