Brief Look at Crime 08/11 – 08/17

Oklahoma minister indicted in scheme that stole nearly $1M from his nonprofit  

A minister and former executive director of a Tulsa nonprofit organization has been indicted on three counts of wire fraud in a scheme that prosecutors say diverted nearly $1 million from a community center he founded. Willard Lenord Jones, pastor of Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church and former executive director of the Greater Cornerstone Community Center, is alleged to have used community center funds for personal expenses and luxury items that include hotel stays, restaurants, casinos, liquor and automobiles, according to the indictment. He also is accused of failing to report almost $400,000 in income on a 2011 tax form.

Former Manager Sentenced for Fraud

Eva Barroso, a former manager for the $491 million Oklahoma Central Credit Union in Tulsa, was sentenced Tuesday to 27 months in federal prison for bank fraud and income tax evasion. U.S. District Court Judge Gregory K. Frizzell in Tulsa also ordered Barroso to pay restitution of more than $295,000. Barroso, 54, of Broken Arrow, pleaded guilty in May to making at least three false loans in the names of other individuals or entities without their knowledge or authorization and making other fake representations. She used the stolen funds to pay for personal expenses, including multiple ATM withdrawals at various casinos.

Casino lawsuit tied to Blagojevich corruption trial can proceed

A lawsuit which alleges racetrack owners offered to bribe disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to sign legislation that hurt riverboat casinos has been given the green light to go ahead by a federal appeals court. Previously thrown out by a lower court, the lawsuit filed by four casinos centers around tapes played at Blagojevich’s trial, alleging horseracing executive John Johnston offered Blagojevich campaign donations in 2006 and 2008 to pass legislation that forced them to set aside 3 percent of their revenue for horse racing. But the 7th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday overruled U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly, saying the casinos must be allowed to pursue their claims about the alleged 2008 bribe. The 7th Circuit ruled Friday that “If the Casinos are correct, the Racetracks agreed to pay Governor Blagojevich $100,000 in exchange for his signature on the ’08 Act.”

Men Claim Harrah’s Atlantic City Security Guards Brutally Beat Them

Attorneys for two Philadelphia men who allege they were beaten by security guards at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey are calling for state and federal prosecutors to investigate the separate incidents, both of which were profiled on ABC’s 20/20 news magazine last week. Surveillance video shows the two men being beaten and hauled off by security. College student Sean Oaks is seen emerging from the scuffle with a gash under his one eye.  Rob Coney, an aspiring businessman and one-time basketball stand-out, is seen being struck in the head with a baton by one of the casino’s security guards. “There is no place for this kind of brutal, barbaric conduct by anyone — let alone security officers in a hotel-casino — in a civil society,” said attorney Michael Maggianoduring a Tuesday news conference. “It must be criminally investigated, over and above the civil litigation, and it must be stopped before someone is killed.”

Gambling Contractor Gets 18 Months

After a jury found him guilty last month of contracting with agents to take part in illegal gambling at the Warsaw VFW, James Lee Sparks, 40, was sentenced today in Kosciusko Superior Court I. Sparks faced several felony counts related to the 2011 case, including theft, illegal gambling, corrupt business influence and contracting for the purpose of defrauding the VFW. On July 16, a jury found him guilty of contracting, a Class D felony Deputy prosecutor Mike Miner urged the court to consider jail time for Sparks noting, “This is an unusual situation in that, beyond simply the crime he was convicted for, the underlying fact is he went to the VFW here and essentially [encouraged] a couple older people and enticed them into this scheme. That has resulted in them having criminal convictions as well. The snake in the weeds caused other people to sin,” Miner added. “If not for him, this whole thing would not have occurred.”

Fantasy football and gambling to be targeted by hackers 

Gamblers and fantasy football fans are likely to be targeted by hackers as the new NFL season begins in the US, according to online security expert Robert Siciliano. Hackers will look to exploit enthusiasm for sport to spread malware and collect personal data through drive-by downloads and email attachments, with the popularity of the industries thought to be a draw for crooks. Writing on the McAfee blog, Siciliano said: “Participating in a fantasy football leagues and cyber gambling are two of the biggest attractors of cybercrime. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association estimates that 33 million Americans play fantasy sports, spending $3.6bn per year in the process.

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

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