Brief Look at Crime 02/24 – 03/02

Former court clerk who stole from Merrillville gets 30-month prison term  

A Merrillville woman who stole more than $175,000 from the town of Merrillville will spend two and a half years in prison. Virlissa Crenshaw, who pleaded guilty in 2012 to stealing $176,763 from the town and lying on her income tax return, cried as she apologized at her sentencing hearing Monday morning in U.S. District Court in Hammond. “I’m so sorry,” she said repeatedly through her tears. Crenshaw used her position as a clerk for the Merrillville Town Court to steal the money from bond payments made by defendants who had been arrested on misdemeanor charges, such as driving while intoxicated or battery. She then stole from other defendants’ bond payments to pay back some of those she had stolen from. Bell also said Crenshaw used the money to gamble. “You stole from the taxpayers to gamble?” U.S. District Judge James T. Moody asked Crenshaw, appearing shocked. “Yes sir,” she responded.

Disbarred New City lawyer who stole almost $1.15 million to be sentenced April 1

A judge on Tuesday promised a disbarred attorney who stole nearly $1.15 million from clients that he’s going to be sentenced to prison April 1. Joel Grossbarth’s sentencing has been adjourned since June based on his promises to repay more money to his clients and his decision to change lawyers. He’s repaid $297,086, leaving his debt $849,470, prosecutor Gary Lee Heavner told Judge Barry Warhit in Rockland County Court in New City on Tuesday. Grossbarth’s promise to include $250,000 in bail never materialized after Warhit jailed him in November on his March guilty plea to two felony counts. Warhit said he couldn’t understand why the cash was never turned over to prosecutors as promised, or how Grossbarth’s family didn’t get the money. Grossbarth stole from about 20 clients over five years to support a gambling habit, Heavner said. He represented those clients in medical malpractice claims, real estate deals and other matters. He also worked as an attorney for Sloatsburg, Airmont and New Hempstead.

N.J. Man Sentenced in Real Estate Fraud That Targeted Jews

A New Jersey man has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in a real estate fraud and money laundering scheme that targeted Orthodox Jews and caused $200 million in losses. The Justice Department on Tuesday said Eliyahu Weinstein, of Lakewood, N.J., was also ordered to pay restitution of $215.4 million and forfeiture of the same amount of money for his role in the scheme. The 38-year-old’s scheme generated headlines in 2010 when a criminal complaint was unveiled and alleged Mr. Weinstein amassed a personal multimillion-dollar collection of jewelry, clocks and watches, including items from Bulgari, Cartier and Harry Winston. Mr. Weinstein also used money from the fraud to pay millions of dollars in credit card bills, legal expenses, luxury car lease payments and gambling in Las Vegas, the Justice Department said.

2nd Casino Hit With Counterfeit Chip Scheme in Less Than a Month

Maryland Live! is the second casino in under two months to be struck by a counterfeit scheme.Maryland State Police have charged a Virginia couple and are looking for two other individuals in the matter. Police say Rosa Nguyen of Annandale, Virginia, bought counterfeit chips online and they were altered to look like Maryland Live! chips. Police say the chips were thrown into a lake, but they floated and most were recovered. Late last month, the Borgata Casino was forced to cancel a tournament following the discovery of counterfeit chips.  A clogged pipe at an Atlantic City, N.J., casino ultimately led to the discovery of $2.7 million in counterfeit poker chips that had been flushed down a toilet.  Christian Lusardi of Fayetteville, North Carolina was arrested on charges including theft and rigging a public contest.

Woman gets 13 years for scamming elderly out of $800K 

When she was just 22, Tiffany Hall started coaxing elderly victims into giving up financial information by posing as a fraud investigator looking into unusual activity on their accounts, federal prosecutors say. Over the next five years, Hall’s scheme bilked more than $800,000 from at least 1,000 victims, some of whom lost their life savings. Many were living in nursing homes and needed canes and walkers to get around. At least two of the victims handed over their credit cards to Hall while holding oxygen tanks, according to prosecutors. “(Hall) not only stole the victims’ money, she also stole their trust, their security and their belief in the goodness of others,” prosecutors wrote in a recent court filing. “The victims were old, lonely, trusting, and just wanted some company – someone to talk with.” Hall used the money to gamble and to purchase high-end items such as cars, designer bags, shoes, electronics, clothes and games, prosecutors said. She and her husband also paid their own bills and expenses with the ill-gotten gains.

97-year-old Devon man had £200,000 savings stolen by gambling relative

A TEIGNMOUTH man was caught trying to board a ferry to France after stealing more than £200,000 from his elderly relative. David Comer, 51, fleeced his wife’s granddad of his life savings in order to pay for holidays and feed his gambling addiction, a court has been told. Over a period of four years Comer siphoned-off money using the elderly man’s internet banking accounts. He then forged bank statements to make it look like nothing was wrong. Exeter Crown Court was told the victim, aged 97, is now living in a state-funded residential home with no way of ever getting the money back. In total he lost £213,455. Comer, a bankrupt, cannot pay and the banks have refused, saying the accounts were legal. The defendant, who admitted one count of theft, was jailed for three years and four months.

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