Monthly Archives: May 2014

American Gaming Association No Longer Supports Online Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has been reporting on the ongoing and continual efforts of both states and the federal government to advance gambling expansion through online gambling.  The most common form of online gambling at hand is online poker.  There is still no uniform federal legislation that allows online gambling, poker or other wise and thus far, only a handful of states have experimented this past year with more local legislation designed to allow online gambling.  Efforts to advance online gambling isn’t just from independent, online only type companies, but also from brick and mortar casino companies.  As time has passed on the issue, opposition has not only come from sources completely free of gambling profit, like anti-gambling organizations, but also from infighting from those who could benefit financially from such online gambling expansion.  As a result, the industries top lobbying group has taken an official position to oppose online gambling.  An online source explains:

The casino industry’s top lobbying group on Capitol Hill will no longer be in support of online gambling in the United States.

The American Gaming Association’s CEO Geoff Freeman has told The Wall Street Journal that his group cannot continue pushing the issue, citing the casino industry becoming sharply divided over web gambling as the reason.

The AGA has dozens of members, including some of the industry’s titans. Caesars Entertainment, Boyd Gaming, MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands all belong to the AGA.

Sands owner Sheldon Adelson has pledged to spend vast sums of money to try to ban online gambling nationwide, or at the very least slow its spread to additional states. Just Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have legal, and operational, online gambling of some kind.

Right now, there is legislation in Congress that attempts to ban online gaming, as well as legislation that attempts to legalize it. Both are considered long-shots.

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

New Jersey Sports Betting Lawsuit sees briefs filed to the Supreme Court on both sides; State’s rights issues draw in additional briefs

Casino Watch Focus has been reporting on the ongoing efforts of New Jersey to pass legislation that would allow legalized sports betting.  Major opposition has come from the NCAA, NFL. NHL, MLB and even the federal government.  Support has really just been from interested gambling parties in the New Jersey landscape.  The legislation was challenged legally and the law has been struck down.  Casino Watch Focus recently reported  that New Jersey Gov. Chris Cristie was seeking a Supreme Court audience to hear the matter.  Previous reports indicate the odds are still slim the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case, but now both sides have filed their legal briefs to attempt to persuade the Court to either hear the case or ignore it, rendering the prior court ruling the final ruling on the issue.  Now that the issue is at the highest level and considering the federal government’s involvement, it isn’t too surprising that other states have realized this outcome could have implications for them, and several have now joined New Jersey and filed their own legal brief’s in support of the Court hearing the case.  On online source explains:

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the four major professional sports leagues, as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“leagues”), filed their long awaited response to New Jersey’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their appeal regarding the state’s sports betting law. This decision has far reaching implications for the future of sports betting in the United States.

Although on its face this case is addressing the future of sports betting in the United States, this case raises significant constitutional issues with far reaching ramifications regarding how the federal government can regulate the states.

The states of West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming filed an amici curiae brief in support of New Jersey, arguing that this decision raises serious concerns about the federal government’s ability to regulate state policy, regardless of if it is done by an affirmative or negative command. These states are not necessarily concerned with offering sports betting within their boundaries, but are instead focused on the potentially far-reaching consequences of a ruling in this case that allows the federal government to control state policy.

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

Brief Look at Crime 05/12 – 05/25

Tampa pastor found dead amid embezzlement probe

A Tampa pastor was found dead of an apparent suicide amid an investigation he had embezzled about $200,000 from his church, authorities said. The Tampa Police Department said the Rev. Vladimir Dziadek, 56, was discovered by a maintenance worker Monday morning at the bottom of a staircase at the offices of St. Joseph Catholic Church. He had apparently hanged himself with a belt tied to a banister. A report from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner noted police said Dziadek was depressed after parishioners discovered the alleged embezzlement to fuel a gambling habit. The report said the priest had been removed from administrative duties at the church and was set to appear at a hearing Monday with members. Frank Murphy, a spokesman for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, said the diocesan finance office was nearing the end of its investigation. Murphy said Dziadek was “very well-received” at St. Joseph but had a history of depression. The medical examiner’s report said liquor bottles and casino vouchers were found in Dziadek’s room, but provided no elaboration. Authorities said no suicide note was found. “Our detective is in the final stages of the investigation into his death,” police spokeswoman Laura McElory said.

‘Tsunami of Corruption’ is Heading for Aussie Sports Warns Match-Fixing Expert

Journalist and corruption in sport expert Declan Hill has warned of a “tsunami of corruption” about to hit Australian sport. He uttered the dire warning while addressing the second Victoria Police Integrity in Sport Symposium in Melbourne. “The match fixing linked to the Asian gambling networks have destroyed most Asian sports. “The sports fans of Asia, the gambling people, the fixers of Asia are now going to turn their attention to Australia.” The Australian continent is no stranger to recent match-fixing controversies.  Hill’s comments come at a time when a senior coach and four players on the Melbourne soccer club were charged with criminal offences over six Victorian Premier League games in 2013. Deputy commissioner Graham Ashton also spoke at the conference. “The sports that are most at risk are the ones that attract the most betting dollars,” Mr Ashton told Fairfax Radio. “There’s over 8000 sports betting operators worldwide now and they’ll frame a market on anything,” he said. “If you indicate to some of these operators, particularly the ones that operate offshore and illegally, that you want to be on something they’ll frame a market on it.”

China jails US businessman 20 years in mob trial

 BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese court sentenced a Chinese-American businessman on Thursday to 20 years in prison on charges of heading a mob that kidnapped rivals and operated illegal casinos, and rejected his claim that he was tortured by police.  The Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court said in a statement on its microblog that Vincent Wu operated illegal casinos that raked in 48 million yuan ($7.8 million), got an associate to throw acid at a judge who ruled against him in a lawsuit and ordered thugs to set fire to sheds owned by farmers who refused his offer of compensation to clear off land he wanted to develop. About two dozen other defendants in the case received sentences of between 19 months and 19 years. Many of the defendants declared in court that they had been tortured by police — deprived of sleep or beaten — into confessing to assault, kidnapping and other violent crimes. About 20 of them recanted their confessions.

Report finds 4 out of 5 sporting bets are placed illegally

Four out of every five bets made on sport are placed illegally, leading to $140bn being laundered each year, according to a two-year study on the scale of betting corruption. Football and cricket are most at risk of manipulation as organisers struggle to protect events from criminals seeking to exploit the rapid rise of online betting, which accounts for 30 per cent of all sports gambling activity. Match-fixing scandals have dogged cricket’s Indian Premier League and other competitions, while football’s main governing bodies Fifa and Uefa have struggled to contain outbreaks of betting-related corruption in several countries. The report, from the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and the International Centre for Sport Security, focuses attention on Asia, which the researchers said makes up 53 per cent of the illegal betting market. It said 80 per cent of sports betting around the world was illegal and that the number of illegal operators was impossible to estimate. The authors warned regulators were failing to keep up with the rapid growth in illegal activity. Chris Eaton of the ICSS said organised crime was infiltrating the global sports betting market.

Mark Twain Casino among 11 casinos reporting security breach

Affinity Gaming, which owns Mark Twain Casino in LaGrange and 10 other casinos in four states, has confirmed that its credit and debit card system for non-gaming purchases has been hacked. In a press release, the Las Vegas-based corporation said the security breach “resulted in a compromise of credit card and debit card information used in non-gaming purchases from individuals who visited its casino and casino resort facilities.” The company said credit or debit card data was exposed at all 11 of its casinos for customers who made food, beverage, hotel or retail purchases with their cards between Dec. 7 and April 28. This includes the company’s two Missouri properties — Mark Twain Casino and St. Jo Frontier Casino in St. Joseph — along with one casino in Iowa, three in Colorado and five in Nevada. Affinity, formerly known as Herbst Gaming and based in Paradise, Nev., is urging customers who used their credit or debit cards for such purposes “to take steps to protect their identities and financial information.”

Kansas investigates $10M missing from credit union

A fired Parsons-Pittsburg Credit Union employee is believed to have embezzled $10 million in missing deposits from the now defunct operation and gambled away much of the money, recently released court documents show. The filings last week in U.S. District Court in Kansas reveal for the first time the magnitude of losses that led the Kansas Department of Credit Unions in January to place the state-chartered credit union into conservatorship. It ultimately found it insolvent and liquidated it in March, with another credit union assuming operations. It remains unclear how so much money could have disappeared without authorities noticing sooner. Department administrator John Smith said Monday that the credit union submitted incorrect data about accounts that regulators didn’t know existed. He said a forensic audit is underway to determine how it was done. “A loss of this size is painful to us,” Smith said. “It looks like we are not doing our job. That is not the case.” “But in a small credit union sometimes those things can occur without the checks and balances of a larger staff,” Schaefer said Monday. “A smaller credit union, or any kind of a financial institution that is small, has a limited staff. That can have an effect on the amount of dual control that is available.”

Woman carer is found guilty of murdering patient to gamble his money

A Sydney carer was found guilty of murdering Bill Adamson, 84, after she gave him a lethal dose of pain medication. Kerry Forrest, 54, had wrested control of the sale of his house and used the funds to feed her gambling addiction. The elderly man was killed at Maclin Lodge Motel in Campbelltown – Sydney’s southwest – in April 2010. In handing down his verdict following the judge-alone trial on Tuesday, Justice Peter Hidden said Forrest had killed Mr Adamson by making him ingest a lethal dose of the morphine-based pain killer MS-Contin. ‘It is most likely that she crushed tablets and mixed them with his food,’ he told the Supreme Court. Forrest, the court heard,  had been employed by Mr Adamson as a live-in carer in September 2009 after his wife Beryl died. From this point, Justice Hidden said, her ‘behaviour points to a calculated course of dishonest conduct’. Forrest became increasingly involved in his financial affairs and by February 2010 helped him sell his Kareela home in southern Sydney for $690,000. The money from the sale of the elderly man’s Kareela home was transferred into Forrest’s bank accounts then into poker machines Gaming managers at league clubs in Parramatta and Cronulla regularly watched her play more than one machine at once. Plainly enough, Justice Hidden said, the primary source of her gambling funds came from the sale of Mr Adamson’s house.

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

Florida passes legislation to help prevent another ‘Allied Veterans of the Florida’ illegal gambling disaster

Casino Watch Focus reported on the ongoing issues of Florida’s internet café’s, the most notable being the scandal involving the Allied Veterans of Florida group.  Essentially they claimed to be a charity organization but turned out to be a front for illegal gambling.  The Florida legislature quickly passed legislation to ban such café’s, but there are still a lot of issues that need to be addressed, and new legislation that has passed both chambers looks to continue those efforts.  The Wall Street Journal explains:

The Florida legislature passed a bill Thursday to expand oversight of charities and telemarketers soliciting donations in the state, a little more than a year after a scandal with a veterans’ charity forced the lieutenant governor to resign. The state House and Senate, both controlled by the GOP, overwhelmingly supported the measure.

The legislation would require nonprofits collecting more than $1 million of contributions annually to send audited financial reports or forms they already submit to the Internal Revenue Service to the state as well. It is “a step in the right direction for keeping bad characters out of the state of Florida,” State Sen. Jeff Brandes, (R-St. Petersburg), a bill sponsor, said in an interview.

The state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees charities, would set up a website where each charity’s financial information would be posted.

Charity telemarketers who collect personal information would have to submit fingerprints for FBI and state background checks. Telemarketing company employees also would have to be screened for felony convictions.

The legislation was proposed after a scandal in which 57 people, almost all in Florida, were arrested in March 2013 on charges their charity, Allied Veterans of the World Inc., was a front for illegal gambling.


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Brief Look at Crime 04/28 – 05/11

Miami-Dade police bust over 200 people is large cockfighting ring

The tip came in a few weeks ago: Someone told police that people were gambling and selling drugs at a home in the Redland in deep South Miami-Dade. Undercover Miami-Dade police officers, posing as customers, started dropping in and making drug buys.  On Thursday, armed with a search warrant, police entered the home and made an eye-catching discovery: 200 people, some armed, almost all gambling, standing and seated around a cockfighting ring that had been built in a theater-like setting. Police found firearms, drugs, thousands of dollars and dozens of roosters inside small stacked cages. Money was found everywhere, said Miami-Dade Detective Roy Rutland. Rutland said the crowd taken into custody at the three-bedroom, two-bath home can expect charges including illegal weapons, narcotics, illegal gambling and cruelty to animals. Though cockfighting is fairly common, especially in deep South Miami-Dade, Rutland called Thursday’s haul “one of the larger ones we’ve seen in quite a while.”

Former police union leader Robbie Freitas is in court to take plea in Allied Veterans case

The former second in command of the Jacksonville police union is expected to plead guilty today in the Allied Public Corruption scandal in Sanford.  Yates said Freitas believes the plea deal is in his best interest, classifying it as a “plea of convenience.” He will plead guilty to one felony count of structuring a financial transaction and one misdemeanor count of running an illegal lottery. Freitas has been charged with 17 criminal counts, including charges of racketeering and money laundering. Freitas is a former Jacksonville police officer who was first vice president of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police at the time of his arrest in February 2012. He was put on unpaid leave and later retired. Bob Finkbeiner with the Office of Statewide Prosecution said last week that Freitas would not be sentenced until everyone else in the case is dealt with. State officials arrested 57 people in the case, but after Freitas pleads only seven will be left.  Authorities said the St. Augustine-based nonprofit, which operated dozens of gaming centers throughout Florida, pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars and engaged in illegal gambling. Allied operated centers, called Internet cafes, out of about 50 strip malls throughout Florida. Customers bought Internet time at computers that also featured sweepstakes games that simulated slot machines. Prosecutors said the centers were mini-casinos, and most patrons who bought Internet time actually didn’t use it because most came to gamble.

Gambling boss draws 18 months jail

The manager of an illegal, multi-million dollar gaming ring got 18 months in jail Tuesday — his 51st birthday. Gary Saikaley told members of the press gathered for his plea and sentencing not to make him look bad, but he needn’t have bothered. By any account — particularly that of Crown prosecutor Julie Scott, who read out the agreed statement of facts — Saikaley was very good at what he did. Tasked with the administration of a betting ring at a Plantagenet motel, as well as a gambling website, Saikaley’s efforts grossed his gang $5 million, Scott said. Net profits were estimated at $1.2 million. Undercover cops placed several bets with Saikaley — including a $2,000 bet on the 2012 Superbowl — during the two-year investigation. He was ultimately arrested in November 2012. “Gaming is one of the spokes of criminal organization,” Scott said, likening it to running guns, women and dope.

Leader of Sports-Gambling Ring Gets Year in Prison

The son of a billionaire art collector was sentenced Wednesday to serve a year and a day in prison for running a sports-gambling ring that booked millions of dollars in bets. Hillel “Helly” Nahmad, 35 years old, was arrested in April 2013 along with 33 others, including some reputed Russian organized-crime figures, and was originally charged with racketeering, money laundering and fraud. In November, he pleaded guilty to operating a gambling business that catered mostly to super-rich Russians bettors. As part of his plea, he admitted he was one of the leaders and organizers and the prime financing source of the illegal sports-gambling business. The other charges were dismissed as a result of that agreement.  Judge Furman didn’t appear moved. “I think there is only way to make Mr. Nahmad understand his actions have consequences…and that is not to cut him a break and use more of his family’s money but instead it is to send him to prison,” the judge said. In court, Mr. Brafman said that Mr. Nahmad’s father was a world-class backgammon player and a gambler. “He grew up in a culture where gambling was legal and gambling with high stakes was not only done but it was normal,” Mr. Brafman said.

Couple Will Forfeit $2 Million From Illegal Gambling Operation

A defendant in an illegal gambling case out of Oklahoma has agreed to forfeit $2 million in cash and property to the federal government as part of a plea deal. The complaint alleges that Adlai Stevenson Brinkley placed illegal slot machines in bars, lodges and veterans’ posts throughout Oklahoma and in Kansas. “For the past 22 years, Adlai Brinkley … has continuously been the head of a large-scale, illegal gambling enterprise operating throughout the state of Oklahoma with the base of operations located at Star Amusement Incorporated … in El Reno,” a federal investigator reported in a court affidavit in March 2013. Adlai Brinkley, 52, and his wife, Pamela Brinkley, 51, were charged last week with aiding and abetting each other in the state gambling operation.

‘Poker Princess’ gets probation for role in $100 million gambling ring

“Poker princess” Molly Bloom avoided jail time when he was sentenced Friday to a year probation after admitting to being a key player in an illegal $100 million high-stakes gambling ring that catered to A-list celebs like Leonardo DiCaprio and deep-pocketed Wall Street financiers. “It’s been a great opportunity for growth, and I’ve learned many valuable lessons,” Bloom, 36, told Furman shortly before he handed down a probation sentence that requires to perform 200 hours of community service. The judge, however, warned Bloom about her tell-all memoir “Molly’s Game” that’s supposed hit bookshelves this June, saying he hoped she “really learned” her “lesson” and that the book wouldn’t take a flip attitude towards her crimes. Bloom was well-known for hosting under-the–radar games for celebs including DiCaprio, Alex Rodriquez and Tobey Maguire, as well as the filthy rich. Walden told the judge that one celeb she threw games for was a horrible boss, saying — without naming names — that he was “pampered … with a lust for money.”

Comptroller of Frontier Leasing Embezzles $4.9 Million

A Neosho man faces up to 30 years in federal prison after pleading  guilty to embezzling $4.9 million dollars from a Joplin trucking firm. 60 year old David Van Winkle was the comptroller for  Frontier Leasing Incorporated. He deposited checks from customers in both the company’s real accounts and into a secret account. Van Winkle pled guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and failure to pay taxes on the embezzled money. Van Winkle used  the money on personal expenses and gambling. Besides prison time he faces a fine of up to 750 thousand dollars. And must pay back the 4.9 million, forfeit a 2013 Holland tractor, a 2007 hummer and other equipment.

Cockfighting ring grossed $1 million a year

Three Floyd County, Ky., residents have been charged with operating what a federal agent described as one of the largest, most lucrative cockfighting rings in the country.  Federal authorities charged Walter Dale Stumbo, 51; his wife, Sonya Stumbo, 51; and his son Joshua Stumbo, 25, with conspiring to conduct illegal cockfights and to operate an illegal gambling enterprise, according to documents in federal court.  The three allegedly helped run a large cockfighting ring called the Big Blue Sportsmen’s Club at McDowell, which featured arena-style seating and a full-service restaurant. The investigator estimated that the enterprise grossed $1 million a year, not counting hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal betting.

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

UPDATE: Florida House Democrats officially demand to be involved in negotiating new Seminole gambling compact

Casino Watch Focus reported that Florida House Democrats said they would kill any new casino deal with the Seminoles if it didn’t include certain types of gambling games.  Now, the Democrats have gone a step farther and officially made clear they want to be involved in the actual writing of the agreement.  The Tampa Bay Times explains:

The caucus on Tuesday formally announced what had been informally previously accepted — that Democrats have taken a “Caucus Position” to withhold their support for ratification of gaming compact between the governor and the Seminole Tribe of Florida until Democrats are included in negotiations.

The postion was “developed at a routine Tuesday meeting of the House Democratic Caucus,” the Democrats announced in a statement. It was approved unanimously by voice vote.

“We have been expressing our concerns all session long,” said Rep. Jim WaldmanD-Coconut Creek, in a statement. “It should come as no surprise to the governor that we expect a seat at the negotiating table.”

Various reports have claimed that Gov. Scott is close to a deal, and Gov. Scott tested the waters on calling for a special gambling session, but found little support:

Legislative leaders in both the House and Senate have all but rebuffed the governor’s offer to hold a special session in May after his deputies hinted that he was “getting close” to an agreement with the Seminole Tribe over the gaming compact that expires next year.

“It’s toast,’’ said one high-ranking Republican Monday, who noted that the governor’s failure to offer details led many of them to conclude that he gave the tribe what they wanted. “Why do we need to do it in the last week?,’’ Waldman asked. “The compact doesn’t expire until next year.”

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

Brief Look at Crime 04/14 – 04/27

Man shot, wife tied up in Winter Park home

A man was shot and his wife was tied up, according to neighbors, during an altercation with at least two assailants inside a Winter Park home, deputies said. According to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, a woman was awakened by arguing and fighting between her husband and at least two others. The duo ransacked the house and fired several shots, striking the man, who was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, deputies said.  The man was alert, but his condition is not known. The woman, who was bound with zip ties, ran to a neighbor’s house for help, witnesses said.  She was not injured. Later, she was heard saying, “I thought I was going to die, my husband has been shot.” Investigators said the shooting was a targeted incident, but aren’t sure if the attackers broke into the home or had been invited inside.  It’s unclear if anything was stolen from the home. A neighbor who didn’t want to be identified told Local 6 the victim is an avid gambler. “He just likes to brag about his gambling.  He likes to wear heavy jewelry, gold chains, big rings and stuff like that,” he said.  “They’re pretty eccentric.  He’s a player … his lifestyle is a bit unusual.” The neighbor also told Local 6 that the victim had survived a gunshot wound in the past after being shot by robbers at a gas station.

Woman with gambling debts stole $1.8 million from job

A New Jersey woman is accused of stealing more than $1.8 million from her Allentown-based employer, in part, to pay off her alleged gambling debts. Nelann Quigley, 65, of Watchung, is charged with one felony count of theft by unlawful taking. Prosecutors said Quigley worked at fabric manufacturer Aetna Felt Corporation, located at 2401 W. Emmaus Ave. Aetna Felt owner James Weppler called police Feb. 13 to report $700,000 in business funds had been stolen between January 2012 and January 2014. Further investigation revealed the thefts actually dated back to 2008 and amounted to nearly $2 million, according to an affidavit of probable cause for arrest filed by Allentown police. Police said Weppler turned over copies of about 267 checks that had been written against Aetna Felt’s business account without permission over the past six years. The total loss from the unauthorized checks was determined to be about $1.85 million.

Former Algoma University employee stole $391,000 from post-secondary institution to fuel gambling addiction

Sentencing has been set over for a former long-time Algoma University employee who confessed to her employer she stole approximately $391,000 from the post-secondary institution to fuel a gambling addiction. During the last six to seven years, the Sault Ste. Marie woman defrauded the university by taking money that was provided to the school by a number of organizations for tuition. The fraud occurred between April 1, 2006 and Oct. 1, 2012. A lengthy exchange Monday afternoon at the Sault Ste. Marie courthouse saw defence lawyer Don Orazietti describe his client, a 34-year AU employee whose last post was student accounts officer, under great stress during the time of the fraud. Complaints about an unmanageable workload — enrolment was growing greatly at this time — fell on deaf management ears, Orazietti contended, while a diagnosed gambling addiction spiralled out of control.

Former aide to Obama pal Whitaker pleads guilty

The one-time top aide to former state public health chief Dr. Eric Whitaker pleaded guilty today in a $400,000 federal bribery and kickback scheme on state grants she controlled. Quinshaunta Golden, 45, of Homewood, entered her plea in federal court in a deal where prosecutors agreed to ask a judge to sentence her to no more than 10 years and a month in prison. Golden, the niece of Democratic U.S. Rep. Danny Davis of Chicago, admitted to two counts involving bribery, theft, embezzlement and obstruction of justice for trying to cover up her crimes. Golden was Whitaker’s chief of staff when they served together at the Illinois Department of Public Health for several years until late 2007. She had oversight of millions of dollars in grants. As a grand jury probe heated up in February 2012, Golden sought to influence the testimony of the consultant, including urging the individual to say the grant money was used “for gambling and other personal expenses,” prosecutors said.

Official who stole $2M from town to lose pension

A former town finance director who stole more than $2 million from Winchester will not be collecting his pension. Henry Centrella Jr., who was sentenced earlier this month to 11 years in prison, has agreed to the revocation of the pension that would have paid him about $34,000 annually. The revocation was sought by Attorney General George Jepsen who is authorized to seek changes to pensions of public officials convicted of crimes related to their jobs. The order agreed to Friday by Centrella also calls for the $92,000 that he paid into the pension fund to go toward restitution. Any theft from the government is a violation of public trust and Centrella’s actions caused significant hardship for Winchester, Jepsen said Monday. Centrella pleaded guilty in January to five counts of first-degree larceny. Centrella had worked for Winchester since 1977 and was finance director from 1982 until his firing last year. Authorities say Centrella and his wife had gambling losses of more than $500,000 from 2008 through 2012, citing records from casinos including Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods.

Woman gets 2 years for misusing $364K for homeless vets

A Nashville woman was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court to two years in  prison for defrauding the Veterans Administration of more than $364,000 over three years. Birdie Anderson, 55, received a $80,600 grant from the VA in April 2007 in conjunction with a program to house homeless military veterans. Anderson used the grant to buy a house on Kirk Avenue in East Nashville, but the house was foreclosed upon in 2009.  In accordance with the grant, veterans are to live in the provided homes for no less than seven years. However, the soldiers in Anderson’s care lived in the  home for only about three years because of the foreclosure, Anderson’s attorney, R. David Baker, said during the sentencing.  Anderson received another grant from the VA in May 2007 for $25,000 to buy a specialized van to transport the veterans. She received an additional $258,000 in December 2007 to buy another residence to house homeless vets. However, neither of those grants was used for veterans, but to further Anderson’s gambling addiction, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Hilliard Hester, who prosecuted the case.

Man beats and prostitutes wife to help pay gambling debts

KUALA LUMPUR – A woman ran away from home with her baby after she could not stand being forced by her husband to sleep with other men to help pay his gambling debts, China Press reported. The man was said to have incurred heavy losses and owed people money for the past year for his gambling activities in Kuala Lumpur. Sources said the 26-year-old woman, who has a six-month-old baby, was forced to receive customers even during her pregnancy. When the woman recently found out that she was pregnant again, she refused to sleep with other men. Her husband beat her up until she suffered a miscarriage. Afraid that more harm would come to them, the woman ran away with her baby on April 15. The paper said a police report had been lodged and police were looking for the man.

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

Florida Gov. Scott urges Congress to oppose online gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing federal and state battles regarding online gambling.  Each year it seems someone in Congress brings forth new online gambling legislation.  So far, none have been successfully passed, but an Obama Administration ruling on the federal Wire Act has opened the door for all kinds of online gambling legislation and discussion.  Earlier this year, Casino Watch Focus reported that the FBI warned of the dangers of money laundering, cheating and fraud.  This year is no different and new legislation and discussions are being advanced.  Florida Gov. Rick Scott has joined the dialog and penned a letter to Congress urging them to oppose online gambling and uphold the traditional interpretation of the Wire Act.  The Miami Herald reports:

In a letter to congressional leaders on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the governor urged Congress to clarify that the federal Wire Act bars online state lottery sales and reverse a Department of Justice ruling last year that opened the door to internet gambling.

“Allowing Internet gaming to invade the homes of every American family, and be piped into our dens, our living rooms, our workplaces, and even our kids’ bedrooms and dorm rooms is a major decision,’’ the governor wrote in the three-page letter. “We must carefully examine the short and long-term social and economic consequences before Internet gambling spreads.”

He urged Congress to “step in now and call a ‘time-out’ by restoring the decades-long interpretation of the Wire Act.”

The driving organization behind Gov. Scott and other GOP governors is the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.  They have echoed the recent FBI statements and believe it poses a very real and serious threat to families. The Miami Herald continues:

The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling warns that if these efforts are allowed, there will be little to no control over who is exposed to gambling. Children and gambling addicts could have unlimited access to games as they play in the comfort of their homes on lap tops and tablets, the group warns, and organized crime and international terrorists could use the enterprises to hide capital and launder money.

“We appreciate you consideration of our views,’’ Scott wrote, “and look forward ot working with you on developing a sensible policy that protects Americans and preserves the traditional role of the states in controlling gambling within their borders.”

A complete version of Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s letter is available courtesy of the Miami Herald HERE. For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION