Brief Look at Crime 08/18 – 08/24

2 Men that Ran Offshore Gambling Ring Due in Court 

Rochester, N.Y. – Two of the men accused of running a local gambling ring that had former Buffalo Sabres captain, Thomas Vanek, and another pro-hockey player questioned because of it will be in court today. Joseph Ruff and Paul Borrelli are accused of running a multi-million dollar gambling ring out of the Marina Restaurant and Bar in Charlotte. Prosecutors say that the gambling took place through off shore websites but winnings were paid out through local banks. Ruff and Borrelli could face 25-years in prison if they are convicted in addition to paying several hundred-thousand dollars in fines and surrender $76 Million in wages and assets. 

Man left three children alone inside vehicle while gambling

An Easton man allegedly left his three young children alone in his vehicle Wednesday morning while he gambled at the Sands casino. Maurice Cook, 30, of the 600 block of Wolf Avenue, is charged with reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child. He was sent to Northampton County Prison under $30,000 bail. Bethlehem police said Cook’s three children — ages 1, 5 and 8 — were in the vehicle for 45 minutes with the doors locked until they were freed by police. Cook admitted he has a gambling addiction and was in the casino playing blackjack, police said. “A concrete parking garage is not a baby sitter,” Chief Mark DiLuzio said. “This is totally unacceptable.”

Man sentenced for stealing from employees’ 401(k)

A former part owner of a real estate company who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $600,000 from his employees’ 401(k)  accounts has been sentenced to two years in prison. Michael A. Stortini was also ordered to pay restitution at sentencing Monday in federal court in Wilmington. Stortini was managing member and part owner of the Frank Robino Cos. Prosecutors say in 2009, the company went through difficult financial times and Stortini misappropriated funds from the employees’ retirement plan to pay operating expenses. Authorities say Stortini also embezzled money for himself, and spent $500,000 at casinos.

94 detained in cockfighting raid 

Police in the central province of Nghe An on Friday said they detained 94 people following a raid of a cockfighting operation in Nam Dan District. The raid on Thursday afternoon was carried out after police were tipped off about illegal cockfight gambling at the house of Trinh Thi Phuong, 65. Officers seized VND184 million ($9,200) and $300 in cash as well as 22 live roosters. Cao Tien Mai, the district’s chief police officer, told Thanh Nien that the detainees were being questioned about their role in the ring.

Man admits preying on Lower Burrell neighbor, taking more than $100K in money, goods 

A Lower Burrell widow tearfully described to a Westmoreland County judge Wednesday how a neighbor befriended her and her son for almost two decades before learning that he was “preying” on them to feed his gambling habit. Sarah O’Neill, 52, was in court to hear Mark E. Bellini, 60, plead guilty to charges of burglary, criminal trespass, theft, and receiving stolen property as part of a plea bargain agreement. O’Neill estimated that Bellini stole jewelry and sports memorabilia worth more than $100,000. After listening to O’Neill, Judge Christopher Feliciani said he regretted approving the plea bargain and scolded Bellini, repeatedly calling his actions “despicable.” “Offering to help Miss O’Neill just so you could learn information in order to steal from her and her son, I find that just despicable. I hope you remember the hurt you caused this woman for the rest of your life,” Feliciani said before imposing the sentence.

Rapist who kept woman as sex slave and tried to strangle her jailed

A rapist who kidnapped a student and kept her as a sex slave was today jailed for 17 years. Abdul Hanif, 30, imprisoned the vulnerable woman in a flat and repeatedly attacked her. She told a court Hanif had destroyed her life. “I can’t smile anymore,” she said. “I feel as if my life has been totally ruined through no fault of my own, because of Abdul Hanif.” The woman has been left psychologically scarred and suicidal. She had initially asked Hanif for help in finding somewhere to live after she met him in London, where she was studying on a student visa from Bangladesh. He promised her a “nice new home” but instead he abducted her and drove her to Bradford, West Yorks. The woman, who was still a virgin, was forced to have unprotected sex. She was also ordered to cook and clean for him over a four month period. When she resisted he tried to throttle her with a mobile phone charger chord. Gambling addict Hanif stripped her of her phone and bank card before plundering her account. Once he had gambled away her money he tried to pimp her for sex.

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

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