Monthly Archives: January 2014

Super Bowl Gambling – Hardly Harmless Fun

Super Bowl 48 brings the big game to the rugged winter weather of the northeast as MetLife Stadium plays host to February 2nds Championship Game. Super Bowl 48 also brings headlines of Payton Manning’s legacy, Richard Sherman’s outbursts and a match up for the ages as the NFL’S best offensive and best defensive teams square off. Millions of people will engage in this social event and spend time at parties across the country.  However, Super Bowl Sunday is also one of the largest social gambling events in the nation. Online sources are pointing to this year’s Super Bowl as having an estimated $10 billion in wagers placed on its outcome. This flashy, center-stage event brings out several “social” gamblers, some of whom consider placing little bets here and there, and on unusual outcomes, known as prop bets.  These prop bets are generally for some ridiculous situations.  The USA Today provides some examples:

What kind of hat will Bruno Mars wear during the halftime show?

Who will be seen on TV first Pam Oliver or Erin Andrews

Will Knowshon Moreno cry during the anthem

Will the power go out during the game?

Will announcers say the word “marijuana?”

Obviously these Super Bowl bets range from straightforward to ridiculous, but are they just for fun or harmful? The Morning Sentinel article reported that Guy Cousins, acting director of Maine Office of Substance Abuse, estimates that 3 to 5 percent of those who participate in wagering will become problem gamblers. Another expert mentioned, Lee Thompson, president of the Maine Council on Problem Gambling explained, “We’ve seen an increase in the calls from Maine to the Nation Council on Problem Gambling hotline, from eight calls a month in 2003 to over 100 a month in 2006.”

It appears that the glitzy glam of the Super Bowl attracts people to make social wagers, a harmless bit of fun in their mind. But the dollar amount waged on the Super Bowl climbs each year, as does the number of problem gamblers.

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

Brief Look at Crime 01/20 – 01/26

CG Technology to pay record $5.5 million settlement for illegal bets complaint

CG Technology, the gambling subsidiary of Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald LP, will pay the largest fine in Nevada history to settle an 18-count complaint that the company or its CEO should have known one of its top executives was accepting illegal bets. The Las Vegas-based bookmaker will pay a record $5.5 million fine under an agreement reached with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, according to the stipulated settlement released late Monday. The settlement addresses allegations against CG Technology, formerly known as Cantor Gaming, in a civil complaint filed Jan. 6 before the Nevada Gaming Commission. The five-member commission will consider the settlement at a hearing to be scheduled. Both CG Technology CEO Lee Amaitis and Cantor Fitzgerald Chairman Howard Lutnick signed off on the settlement. The 18-count complaint said the sports betting company or Amaitis knew or should have known that Michael Colbert, its former director of risk management and vice president, was accepting illegal wagers and was acting as an agent to recruit bettors. Colbert pleaded guilty in New York federal court in August to a single felony charge of conspiracy in connection with his participation in a nationwide illegal bookmaking ring.

Staten Island fraudster who gambled away $3 million in clients’ money sentenced

A former Richmond resident who gambled away more than $3 million of his investors’ hard-earned cash at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut lost big-time Wednesday at his sentencing.  District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis sentenced Aleksander Efrosman, 51, to nearly 16 years in prison and ordered him to pay about $4 million in restitution, prosecutors said.  Authorities said Efrosman cheated over 100 investors of more than $5 million in a stock and foreign currency exchange investment scam. Efrosman, who was extradited from Poland to face justice here, had pleaded guilty in October of 2012 to wire fraud, said prosecutors. Efrosman gambled $3 million at Foxwoods and also used clients’ funds to pay personal expenses for himself and his family, said court papers.  He fled the country in 2005 with millions of dollars of investors’ funds. He went to Cozumel, Mexico, then to Panama and finally to Poland, said authorities. There, he assumed the identity of “Mikhail Grosman,” using a high-quality fraudulent Russian passport, officials said. But federal authorities, with help from law enforcement in several Eastern European countries, traced Efrosman to Krakow, Poland, and arrested him in May 2010, authorities said. In pre-sentence filings, Efrosman’s lawyer, Michael K. Schneider of Manhattan, sought a prison term between 97 and 121 months for his client.  He said his Efrosman was bedeviled by gambling and drinking.

Delhi businessman shoots himself dead after gambling losses

A Delhi -based businessman who suffered losses due to gambling ended his life here today by shooting himself dead in a hotel, the city police said today evening.  A note was found on the person of the dead businessman, the police said. Sanjeev Radheshyam Rajpal (45), a businessman had come to Thane on January 8 and stayed in the Maurya Residency Hotel near the station and occupied room number 201.  He was supposed to vacate the hotel on Thursday, the hotel’s management told the police. When the hotel staff called his room in the morning, there was no response from the other side.  After the hotel staff opened the room with a duplicate key, they found him lying dead in the room with a gun shot. The police said that they found a letter on his person addressed to his family stating that he had suffered losses due to gambling and had hence ended his life.

In wake of protection scandal, Miami police chief says department cleaned house

When Miami police brass first found out about officers protecting a sports-betting ring run out of a Liberty City barbershop, they had no idea how bad the resulting federal investigation would turn out. Eventually, a dozen officers — all from the North District station — were implicated in a two-year investigation by Miami detectives and FBI agents of the off-the-books protection gig and other corruption crimes. On Friday, Lashunda Hodge, one of the first officers swept up in the probe, was the last to resign. She followed others who were jailed, fired, suspended or resigned. Only the case of a minor player remains unresolved, with that officer still facing possible administrative discipline. With the criminal side of the embarrassing scheme largely wrapped up, Police Chief Manuel Orosa is now grappling with the continuing challenge of cleaning up the reputation of a department also tainted by a string of controversial police shootings in the inner city. “It’s unfortunate that these police officers turned to the criminal side” in the protection racket, said Orosa, who took over leadership of the troubled force in late 2011 and has quickly gained a reputation as a hard-nosed disciplinarian.

Father Joe pleads guilty to stealing $130Gs from church

A priest with a pathological gambling problem pleaded guilty Monday to fraud and theft charges after taking his church for $130,000. Joseph Leclair, former priest of Blessed Sacrement church in the Glebe, exploited lax bookkeeping to pilfer church funds and fund his gambling debts, according to an agreed statement of facts read out in court. From 2006 to May 2011 — when he was exposed as a fraudster in the press — Leclair dipped his sticky fingers into any honeypot he could find.  Marriage preparation course money — payable in cash at $100 a course — vanished into his accounts. He routinely rounded up expenses and pocketed the difference. He would also deposit into his account wads of $5 and $10 bills that he stole from the collection plate. A psychiatrist diagnosed him as a “pathological gambler” and the court heard he often took out large cash advances against his credit card at casinos, particularly the Casino du Lac Leamy.

Ex-treasurer who stole union funds ordered to repay $1.69m

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered the former secretary-treasurer of a Metro Vancouver Longshoremen’s union to repay $1.69 million of misappropriated money, some of which were used to fund gambling debts. Justice Kenneth Affleck also ordered two adult children of Robert Victor Eric Ford to each repay $2,000 that was deposited into their accounts. Ford was the secretary-treasurer of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 502 from October 2003 until August 2012. In September 2012, the union local and New Westminster Longshoremen’s Holding Society filed court action against Ford, alleging he misappropriated the funds and converted them to his own use. In his ruling favouring the union, Affleck said: “There can be no doubt Mr. Ford took a considerable amount of money from the Union Local, well beyond his own salary and expenses as secretary-treasurer.

34 arrested in west Georgia dog-fighting raid

Authorities in west Georgia arrested 34 people and seized 27 vehicles, several guns and over $28,000 in cash in a Saturday night raid on an alleged dog-fighting operation in Meriwether County. According to Meriwether Sheriff Chuck Smith, officers from several agencies, bolstered by helicopters from the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office and the state Department of Natural Resources, took part in the raid, which went down off Happy Hollow Drive around 10:30 p.m. Saturday. “Our narcotics unit has worked on gathering intelligence on the event and at a moment’s notice they rallied up and met at the training center where a briefing was conducted,” Smith said in an e-mail. “When the helicopter pilots hit their target with spotlights, participants and spectators ran into the arms of waiting officers holding a perimeter around the event,” Smith said. He said those arrested, some of them local and some from as far away as Arkansas and Michigan, face various charges, including gambling, cruelty to animals, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, theft-by-receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit or promote dog fighting.

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

Florida Gambling deal between Genting and Gulfstream Criticized

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many efforts of Genting Group to expand gambling in Florida.  They have been involved in efforts to establish full-blown Vegas-style gambling casinos to cruises and land deals.  Now, as the details of a deal between Genting and Gulfstream is being reported, public and other critism is surfacing.  The Miami Herald provides some background and outlines why Genting faces such critics in Florida:

Genting, which three years ago proposed bringing a massive casino resort to the Miami waterfront, recently acquired a racetrack license it says allows for a modest 2,000-machine slot parlor on its land holdings. Its plans to start construction on a new hotel and condo complex at the old Miami Herald headquarters are now at least a year behind schedule. As Genting continues to tout gambling’s potential in Florida, it is making headlines for laying off 175 restaurant workers at its casino in New York.

The Malaysian-based company sued the federal government this fall in an effort to continue using foreign labor for a Miami-based casino ship offering overnight gambling cruises in international waters. On Friday, a federal judge ruled against Genting‘s request to overturn orders by immigration officials to either stop the cruises or hire U.S. workers as crew.

“The same company that promised to create 100,000 jobs is now suing the federal government to try and exploit foreign workers at subpar wages rather than hire Floridians,’’ said John Sowinski, the Orlando-based campaign consultant who heads up the No Casinos advocacy group. “It shows how big a lie the jobs argument is.”

The Tallahassee Democrat explains the current deal and outlines various obstacles:

Under the proposal, Resorts World Omni, a division of Malaysian-based Genting Group, would operate 2,000 slot machines and a poker room at a hotel on Biscayne Bay. The slot machine license would be associated with a permit owned by a nonprofit linked to Gulfstream, where the horse races would continue to run.

But the deal, first reported by The News Service of Florida on Tuesday, would also cost the state a portion of the gambling revenues it receives from the Seminole Indians, according to one of the crafters of the agreement with the tribe.

[O]pening a casino in downtown Miami would be a disaster, said Sen. Gwen Margolis, a Miami Democrat who sent a letter to Senate President Don Gaetz on Thursday objecting to the plan.

Margolis noted that the Resorts World property, in the center of her Senate district, is situated within two blocks of two museums, two performing arts centers and an arena in an already-congested area of Miami.

“It’s outrageous,” Margolis told the News Service.

Florida legislators aren’t the only one’s taking notice of the proposed plan.  No Casinos was quoted in the Tallahassee Democrat and expressed concern:

Genting has “a ton of gall” for coming to the Legislature with the current plan after lawmakers rejected proposals for casino-style resorts in South Florida two years ago, said John Sowinski, president of No Casinos, a group that has long fought against expanded gambling.

And, Sowinski said, Genting is “essentially thumbing their noses at the voters” who approved a 2006 constitutional amendment that opened the door for slots at tracks and frontons in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Voters believed all the gambling activities would be under the same roof, Sowinski said.

“It’s sort of a give an inch, take a mile routine. This is not what voters approved. Not only do we oppose it but we think it’s an affront to the voters of Florida,” he said.

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

Brief Look at Crime 01/13 – 01/19

Mother ‘used daughter’s disability checks to party at casinos months before her 3-year-old starved to death on filthy floor’

A Philadelphia mother allowed her 3-year-old daughter to starve to death while she stole her disability checks to spend the money at casinos and nightclubs. Nathalyz Rivera, who suffered from an undiagnosed genetic condition that left her partially blind and unable to walk or talk, starved to death in September. The child died in her father’s bug-ridden home, as her mother, Carmen Ramirez, 27, abandoned her to spend more time with her new boyfriend. The West Oak Lane home was so filthy that police wore Hazmat suits when they went inside, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Ramirez told police she had not seen the child much and had been spending her nights at nightclubs and casinos. Ramirez has been charged with third-degree murder and three counts of felony theft, while the father, Carlos Rivera, 30, has been charged with first-degree murder.

Morgan Stanley Employee Gambled Away Millions of Bank’s Funds, Strangled Wife

A former product controller at Morgan Stanley was terminated by the company after losing millions of dollars due to an “accounting error”.  Investigators also believe Manas Kapoor, 35, strangled his wife to death the same day he was to attend a disciplinary hearing. Kapoor admitted he was £8,000 in debt and was borrowing from friends and family to support his gambling addiction. His 35-year-old wife, Shivani Kapoor, was found dead last July at their home in Northwood, Middlesex, England.  Shivani reportedly confronted her husband over his gambling losses. A hearing is currently being held to determine the former product controller’s fate.  Kapoor denies he murdered his wife, claiming she suffered from frequent blackouts and accidently fell and hit her head, resulting in death two days later.

Nevada Gaming Control Board Files 18-Page Complaint Against Cantor Gaming

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGC) has filed an 18-page complaint against Cantor Gaming following a lengthy investigation.  A former director of the company was indicted by US law enforcement in late 2012 for his role in an illegal sports betting venture and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy this past summer. Colbert, 33, entered his plea in federal court in New York after the U.S. attorney’s office took over the case, according to court records. Colbert was alleged to have assisted a New York-based gambling operation in placing illegal bets through “runners”, according to court documents.  Pinnacle Sports, one of the largest offshore betting firms, was also natmed in the complaint.  Three of its co-founders were arrested but have since been set free. The former sportsbook director had worked for Cantor Gaming for four years and was fired after his arrest. The board calls for disciplinary action against Cantor by the Nevada Gaming Commission, including fines for each of the 18 counts and possible suspension or revocation of the company’s gaming license.  

40 People Arrested Over Illegal Gambling, Cockfighting in Bogor

District police in Bogor hauled in 40 people after raiding an illegal cockfighting and gambling den, an officer said on Friday. The raid took place late on Thursday afternoon, with the police storming a sprawling compound in Bojongjengkol village, located in the Ciampea subdistrict. “We took 35 men and five women into custody after the raid,” Adj. Sr. Comr. Asep Safrudinl, the head of the Bogor district police, said. “We confiscated 48 motorcycles, 21 cars, 14 fighting cocks, [several] cell phones and Rp 5 million [$410] in cash.” Asep said that local residents tipped off the police about suspicious closed-door events occurring in the area. The compound, located on a back road, was surrounded by a three meter-high wall. Two cockfighting rings were housed under a roofed area roughly the size of a tennis court, and a large, luxurious house lay between the gate of the enclosure and the rings. The blog details the operations of the farm, ranging from the sales of different breeds of fighter cocks to the owner’s, identified by police as K.A., cockfighting experiences in Bangkok. Police said K.A. was running the gambling ring since November. Didik said that the bets ranged from Rp 200,000 to Rp 5 million, and that the cockfights were held four times a week.

Montana man gets life for killing Illinois man

A Billings man was sentenced to life in prison Friday for kidnapping and killing an Illinois man who was shot in the head and beaten with a shovel until it broke, his body later stashed in a culvert along a rural road. Simon Elliot Jacobson, 29, will not be eligible for parole under the terms of the sentence from state District Judge Gregory Todd. Todd noted that Jacobson’s criminal record dates to when he was a teenager, with the only interruptions to that “life of crime” coming during his frequent periods of incarceration. Jacobson and an accomplice posed as FBI agents to kidnap Dejuan Laster of Rockford, Ill., and his girlfriend from their Billings motel room on Jan. 17, 2013. After robbing Laster of $8,000, they freed his girlfriend and drove to a remote area outside Billings where Jacobson killed Laster and hid his body in a culvert. Jacobson was arrested in Denver on Jan. 21, 2012. Besides the charges stemming from Laster’s death, he was also charged with a string of 11 casino robberies in Billings and Livingston. He pleaded guilty in June to kidnapping, homicide and robbery charges.

Blast in illegal gambling hall in China kills 14

An explosion Monday at an illegal gambling hall in a village in southern China killed 14 people and injured seven others, state media report. The blast struck at around 2:30 p.m. (0630 GMT) outside the city of Kaili in the poor southern province of Guizhou, the official People’s Daily newspaper and Xinhua News Agency said. While the cause of the explosion officially remains under investigation, police believe it was set deliberately and are treating the incident as a crime, People’s Daily said. Gambling is illegal in China and such operations are mostly connected to organized crime. Guns are strictly controlled, making homemade bombs the weapon of choice.

Dad is arrested for leaving kids inside truck at Seminole Hard Rock Casino

A father who reportedly left his two kids in his truck on Sunday while he went inside the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood is facing neglect charges. Wells was arrested for leaving his three month and year-an-a-half old toddler in his truck.  Seminole police were sent to the casino’s garage on Winner’s Way after receiving a call that two children were inside a vehicle. When they arrived, they found the children inside a white Ford F-350 on the 8th floor of the garage. The windows were barely cracked. Police said the children, , were belted into car seats: there was no food or water within reach. According to the police report, the temperatures were in the low 80s, but it was about to get noticeably cooler with the setting sun. A DVD player playing a movie had been set up in the center console. Security personnel at the casino told police the children had been alone in the truck for at least an hour, the infant screaming and crying.

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

As Communities Consider Online Gambling, the FBI Warns of Money Laundering, Cheating & Fraud

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various attempts at legalizing online gambling, both on a state by state level and at the federal level. As debates continue in these various arenas, the FBI wants to be sure the criminal implications are understood by those who consider either gambling online themselves or simply allow its existence in their communities.  An online source carried the PRNewsire release of a Joint Statement of Experts who outline the FBI’s statement:

Joint statement by: Michael K. Fagan, career federal prosecutor and post-911 anti-terrorism coordinator active in investigating and prosecuting illegal offshore online commercial gambling enterprises; Earl L. Grinols, distinguished professor of economics at Baylor University, former senior economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers; Jim Thackston, software engineer with a background in the aerospace, manufacturing and energy industries; John Kindt, Professor of Business and Legal Policy,University of Illinois, Senior Editor, U.S. International Gaming Report.

The FBI recently wrote Congress for the second time expressing the Agency’s concern that online gambling – including Internet poker – is vulnerable to money laundering and cheating and is a vehicle to bribe public officials and others. Online players can disguise both their location and identity and thereby fleece unsuspecting innocent participants. In its September, 2013 letter, the FBI stated “Transnational organized crime (TOC) groups might exploit legal online gambling to generate revenue, steal personally identifiable information (PII), and engage in public corruption.” The FBI’s correspondence confirms what we have known for several years that, despite the gambling industry’s claims to the contrary, there exists effective and non-detectable methods which can be used to anonymize a player’s identity and geo-location in order to corrupt a game and these threats will become more prevalent as more states race to embrace online gambling. As the FBI confirmed, “Individuals may use a wide variety of mechanisms to conceal their physical location, or give the appearance of operating in a different jurisdiction ” This statement is easily proven using scientifically verifiable and undetectable methods to demonstrate how a person located in Pakistan can play poker on a system located inside New Jersey. We know because we have done it. Despite what the poker websites and online gaming activists claim, this science is irrefutable and has been peer reviewed by top computer experts and law enforcement.

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

Brief Look at Crime 01/06 – 01/12

Arthur Brownstein charged with defrauding investor out of $112,000

A West Palm Beach man has been arrested and charged with defrauding an investor of more than $100,000. An arrest report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office says that Arthur Brownstein became friends with the victim when he taught a class at a Jewish community center in Palm Beach County. Brownstein told the victim that he worked for an organ donation center and would try and help the victim, whose relative needed a transplant. According to the arrest report, Brownstein approached the victim about several investment opportunities that he was involved in. According to investigators, the victim gave Brownstein a total of $112,000 for the two projects. Investigators said Brownstein met with the victim and his wife for lunch last year and admitted that everything that he previously said had been lies. Brownstein says that he lost his job with the Organ Donor Society because of offshore gambling and was desperate for money, according to PBSO.

Ex-NFL player Caldwell charged in gambling case

Former NFL and University of Florida player Donald “Reche” Caldwell has been arrested by Tampa police on charges of operating an illegal gambling house and bookmaking. Police say Caldwell was one of three leaders of the operation. Five other men are facing a variety of charges including probation violations, possession of a control substance and illegal gambling. The 34-year-old Caldwell was a standout wide receiver at Florida and was chosen in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers. He also played for the New England Patriots and Washington Redskins. His younger brother Andre Caldwell is a receiver for the Denver Broncos. Jail records show Caldwell is free on $4,000 bail in the gambling case. Court records Monday didn’t list an attorney for him.

Housewife, twin daughters found dead in water tank

A homemaker and her twin daughters, aged 14 months, were found dead under mysterious circumstances in an overhead tank of their house at Srinivasa Nagar in the early hours of Saturday. Police sources said circumst­a­nces of the death did not indicate suicide. They suspected fo­ul play. H S Revanna, DCP (South), told Deccan Herald that cases of murder and dowry death were registered against Hareesh, based on a complaint lodged by Asha’s elder brother. Hareesh was then arrested.  Asha was from Sagar in Shimoga district. She worked as a receptionist at a City hotel. In 2011, she had an arranged mar­riage with Hareesh, a sm­all-time mineral water supplier. Her elder sister Lakshmi said the family had to pay Rs 2.5 lakh as dowry, besides 170 gram of gold ornaments. The couple lived on the top floor of Hareesh’s four-storey house. Life became miserable for Asha after she delivered the twins. Her mother-in-law Nellooramma and Hareesh were upset over the birth of girls. Lakshmi said the family started harassing and humiliating Asha. They even called the tw­ins “bad luck”. She alleged that Hareesh was a habitual gambler and lost Rs 7 lakh in IPL betting. He blamed the “bad luck” brought by his daughters for his loss.

Feds Say Former South Pittsburg Mayor Made Hundreds Of Thousands From Illegal Gambling

Officials of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section say former South Pittsburg Mayor Mike Killian made hundreds of thousands of dollars from an illegal gambling operation that was operated over a 25-year time period. Prosecutors are asking that Killian be sentenced to between 12 and 18 months in federal prison and that he pay a fine of between $3,000 and $30,000. Attorney Lee Davis is asking probation or home confinement for Killian, who is due to be sentenced on Thursday morning by Federal Judge Curtis Collier. Barry Cole, who managed the Killian gambling operation, will be sentenced at the same time. Prosecutors said Killian “was the leader of a long-running and diverse illegal gambling business, from which he made hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit gains while openly flouting state and federal law. The defendant’s conduct is all the more egregious given his position as Mayor of South Pittsburg from 2005 until 2012. Elected officials should be pillars of the community – individuals who respect the law and work tirelessly to benefit their constituents.

Former bank employee gets jail for stealing about $380k

A Whitehall woman could serve nearly two years in jail for stealing about $380,000 from a township bank. Kimberly Troxell, 48, was ordered Thursday to spend 111/2 to 23 months in Lehigh County Prison by Judge Kelly L. Banach. Troxell, a former manager at the Wells Fargo bank on Schadt Avenue in Whitehall, pleaded guilty in October to theft by unlawful taking, a felony, admitting she stole $379,540 from the bank between November 2012 and July 2013. Troxell has repaid the bank $20,000, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Tonya Tharp. Banach ordered Troxell to pay the remaining $359,540 and made Troxell eligible for work release after she serves six months in jail. Troxell will spend five years on probation following her jail term. Tharp said Troxell had managed Well Fargo’s ATM machine and pocketed cash from it over the eight-month period. Tharp said the investigation revealed Troxell acted alone. Troxell’s attorney, Angelo Almonti, said Troxell developed a gambling problem that led to the thefts. He said she had been an employee at the bank for 15 years and the thefts were a “shock” to those who knew her as a “real stand-up citizen.”

Drug dealers launder illegal cash through gambling machines

Drug dealers and other criminals are using fixed odds betting machines in Cheltenham bookmakers to launder “dirty” money, the Echo can reveal. Staff at bookmakers in the town have been warned to watch out for customers plugging large sums of money into the electronic gambling machines before cashing out shortly afterwards and effectively “cleaning” their ill-gotten gains. However, some employees at a big-name bookies in the town said it did not pay to ask questions about where customers’ money came from. Dealers are known to feed drug money through the machines, losing some of it and then cashing out with the majority of their stake. They can collect a printed receipt which means if they are stopped by police they can explain why they are carrying large sums of cash. Staff at another bookmakers in the town centre said they were more vigilant against the practice. “We have been warned people do this as a way of laundering money,” he said. “If we see people cashing out straightaway, we give them back the notes they put in.”

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

No Casinos to release anti-gambling documentary, “Pushing Luck”

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling expansion debate in Florida.  With a new legislative session underway and gambling a clear hot button issue, the pro-family group, No Casinos, is set to release a documentary to aid legislators, and potential voters alike, in their gambling decisions.  The Saint Peters Blog reports:

The anti-gambling group is promoting a film to be released January 15 that takes a “clear-eyed look” at the evils of gaming.

In a statement released Friday, No Casinos presented a 90-second trailer for Pushing Luck, a short documentary that shines a critical light on plans to expand gambling casinos throughout the state. The trailer can also be found on YouTube.

In Miami, Atlantic City, Chicago and beyond, filmmakers interviewed recovering addicts, former industry insiders, political leaders and noted academics to examine the economic and social perils of expanded gambling.

According to No Casinos, Pushing Luck “exposes the roots of gambling in Florida, the nature of the industry that pushes it and its consequences for American social, political, and economic life.”

The video is about a half hour and viewings will be set up at various locations around the state beginning in Tallahassee.  Miami Today provides some key information about the history and expertise that will be presented:

“This documentary travels through Florida’s complex history with gambling, from railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to the Great Depression to the present,” said Ryan Houck of Consensus Communications, the film’s producers.

“Our crew traveled to Atlantic City, Chicago, Miami and Massachusetts to interview some of the nation’s leading experts on gambling policy, history, social side-effects and economic consequences,” Mr. Houck told Miami Today.

“We spoke with recovering gambling addicts and former casino employees, whose experiences offer a sobering glimpse into the nature of the casino industry. We also talked with folks who’ve had a front-row seat to the broken promises in Atlantic City – and who have watched firsthand as casino bosses rehashed the very same promises in their attempts to hoodwink the people of Florida.”

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

Brief Look at Crime 12/30 – 01/05

Jehovah’s Witness Family Murdered over ‘Dog Fight Gambling Debt’

Chihuahua police have arrested two suspects for the killing of a family of eight who was stabbed to death in the northern Mexico border city of Ciudad Juarez. Jorge Gonzalez Nicolas, general prosecutor for Chihuahua, said that authorities are also looking for a third suspect. The motive behind the brutal killing is debt for dog fight gambling, according to authorities, although the exact amount of the debt is still unknown. Gonzalez confirmed early suggestions that the family knew their killers – in fact they opened the door for them due to a “common friendship”. No signs of forced entry into the house have been found and the knife used for the murder was allegedly from the kitchen. The victims, who included two 4-year-olds (Abril Romero and Valeria Lara Castañeda) and a 6-year-old (Daniel Romero Castañeda), were found with tape over their mouths and their hands tied. The oldest, named as María del Carmen Morales Infante, was aged 60.  In total two men, three women and three children were slaughtered. A three-month-old girl in the house was found alive. One of the victims, Maximo Martin Romero Sánchez – nicknamed Max – aged 27, sold used cars at his home and may have had cash with him at the time of the killing. The eight were found on Sunday morning after they did not attend a Jehovah’s Witness meeting and congregation members became concerned.

Woman accused of stealing $210K from film fest

A 67-year-old woman accused of embezzling more than $210,000 from the Breckenridge Festival of Film has been arrested. The Summit Daily News reports Dawna Foxx was arrested Thursday on multiple charges of forgery and theft. She is accused of stealing $20,000 from her husband, $16,000 from her husband’s business partner and more than $210,000 from the film festival. Police Detective Alex Blank says he investigated Foxx’s financial activity between 2007 and 2012 and found she “forged documents and spent others’ money for personal gain.” He says she used fraudulent checks and credit cards to pay for personal items, including clothing, rental cars, airline tickets, gambling and gardening supplies. Foxx was the film festival’s executive director from late 2004 to 2012.

Elderly woman killed in shootout by armed robbers over gambling money

A 76-year-old South Carolina woman who managed an illegal gambling hall died in a shootout with armed robbers, authorities said. Three thieves ambushed Dorothy “Dot” Hendrix as she pulled up to her house, Anderson County Sheriff’s Lt. Sheila Cole told the Daily News. “It looks like they were waiting for her,” Cole said. Sheriff’s deputies in South Carolina searched an unmarked storefront following the fatal shooting of Dorothy Hendrix, 76, and found about 15 video gambling machines. Hendrix ran an off-the-books gaming center, and investigators suspect the attackers thought she’d be carrying a lot of cash from the business. “This was not a random act,” Sheriff John Skipper said in a statement. “The robbery was planned and she was specifically targeted. The trio had knowledge that Hendrix carried large sums of money home with her at night.”

Veterans charity scandal mastermind suspended from practicing law

The Florida Bar says they suspended one of the masterminds of the Veterans charity scandal in early December, after he was found guilty of being involved in numerous illegal acts.  The Florida Bar was tasked with handing down the suspension to attorney Kelly Mathis. Mathis was found guilty in October of 103 counts in connection with a multimillion-dollar illegal gambling scheme that revolved around Internet cafes. Mathis faces seven to 320 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced  at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 12. Some 17 other attorneys were also suspended from practicing law in the state for various reasons, according to a press release from the Florida Supreme Court.

Woman charged with leaving child unattended in car

Anne Arundel County police have arrested a woman they say left her 4-year-old child alone in a car in a garage at Maryland Live! Casino. Police say casino security officers saw the child alone and crying in the vehicle about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Police were called, and officers say the vehicle had arrived about 10 a.m. Tuesday. Authorities say the child was taken to a local hospital. Police say the child was hungry and cold, but showed no signs of physical abuse. Officers say a woman arrived at the car and said she was the child’s mother. Twenty-four-year-old Alicia Denice Brown of Baltimore was charged with second-degree child abuse, confined unattended child under 8 years old, and neglect of a minor. The child was released to a relative.

Angry Wife Helps Annihilate Illegal Pool Gambling Ring

A woman from Staten Island became the star of the latest casino gambling news after she got fed up with her husband’s gambling habits and blew the whistle on the illegal pool betting operation he was part of. The real money pool betting operation was being run from a Staten Island bar. “My husband spends all his money on these pools and not on our children,” she complained to the NY State Liquor Authority (SLA), in an attempt to put an end to his counterproductive pastime. The angry housewife claimed a local bar was running a $1 million illegal betting business and, according to the NY Post, she was outraged by the fact that the SLA allowed it. While online and mobile sportsbooks are illegal in the state of New York, punters still have the option to turn to licensed sport betting operators. However, gambling in establishments with a liquor license is forbidden under NY state laws.

Woman Charged with Stealing $240,000 from Woodbury Employer

A Cottage Grove woman has been charged with stealing more than $240,000 from a Woodbury business while working as its account manager. Carol Ann Scott, 47, is charged with felony theft, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. According to the criminal complaint, a Woodbury police detective was notified in early September of an employee theft from the Oral Surgery Center. The company’s office manager told police the business’ main office is located in Woodbury, but the company has a number of satellite offices in Minnesota and Wisconsin. All of the company’s cash payments were handled by the office manager and by Scott, who worked as the company’s account manager. The office manager cleaned Scott’s office after she was fired, and discovered a win-loss sheet from Treasure Island casino, dated Feb. 2, 2013. The report detailed Scott’s winnings and losses between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2012: $8,879 in winnings and $30,521 in losses, according to the complaint. Investigators determined that Scott stole $240,207 from the Oral Surgery Center, the complaint charges.

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