Monthly Archives: September 2014

New Jersey to Legalize Sports Betting as Gov. Christie Changes Course

Casino Watch Focus has routinely reported on the almost 4 year old battle by New Jersey to legalize sports betting. After the Supreme Court rejected recent legislation by New Jersey, the legislature tried a new approach with its legislation that ultimately resulted in a veto by Gov. Christie. The issue seemed to be resolved, resulting in the state walking away from legalizing sports betting. Now, in a reversal of course, Gov. Christie has decided to make another attempt that he believes will allow sports betting in the state’s casino’s. Forbes explains:

In a move designed to save the remaining fast-drowning casino franchises in New Jersey, the Chris Christie administration reversed course and paved the way to legalize most sports betting earlier this week.

After a four-year fight in the courts and among state legislators, the governor’s office issued a directive telling casinos and racetracks that they won’t be held civilly or criminally liable for prosecution by law enforcement. The only remaining hurdle is to have the state’s motion approved by the federal district court. That is slated to be decided on Oct. 6.

Blayne Davis, author of a new book on illegal sports betting entitled “Wild Game”,
does not think the federal government will stand in New Jersey’s way. “They will not endorse it or make policing it a priority. Economic reality will prevail and I believe several states will follow,” he explained. “It will be akin to their stance on recreational marijuana in Colorado.”

Monmouth Park Racetrack has indicated it would offer sports betting as soon as next month. The only restrictions on betting will be on college teams or any events, professional or college, held in the state.

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

Brief Look at Crime 09/22 – 09/28

Trial under way for man accused of murdering woman, baby

The trial of a man who’s accused of murdering a woman and her baby granddaughter in Montgomery County is getting underway. The suspect has given police very different accounts of what happened on that day back in 2012. “My intention was not to kill or harm anyone. I only tried to kidnap the baby,” he said during a police interview.Police say in October of 2012, Yandamuri, who’s admitted to having a gambling problem, attempted to kidnap 10-month-old Saanvi Venna, his Upper Merion Township neighbors’ baby, for a $50,000 ransom. But in the process investigators say Yandamuri killed the little girl’s grandmother Satyavathi. Yandamuri initially told police he slipped while holding the baby and accidentally slashed the woman’s throat. Prosecutors say Saanvi died of suffocation. In the confession, Yandamuri admitted to putting a handkerchief in her mouth to keep her from crying and wrapping her head in a blanket before putting her in suitcase.

Woman faces court for $200,000 Medicare fraud

A PATHOLOGICAL gambler who falsely claimed almost $200,000 from Medicare to fund her addiction has faced a Bendigo court. Andrea Golic, 31, pleaded guilty in Bendigo County Court on Tuesday to two counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage and one charge of attempting to to dishonestly claim financial advantage. The court heard the Malmsbury woman created copies of a doctors’ surgery invoices and used them to make fraudulent Medicare claims. Crown prosecutor Matt Ryan said between March and November 2012, Golic claimed $199,875 from the government health fund. He said between December 2012 and May 2013 she attempted to lodge further claims of about $16,000, but identical existing claims were identified and an investigation begun. Mr Ryan said Golic also obtained $42,723 from her private health fund using the fraudulent invoices. The court heard the woman also gambled away about $200,000 of her parents’ money, forcing them to re-mortgage the family home. 

Jail for Norwich man who stole £328,500 from Norfolk Chamber of Commerce 

A 23-year-old assistant accountant who admitted a £328,500 fraud from the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce has been jailed. Alexander Dickerson, of Davidson Road, Norwich, had previously been charged with fraud by abuse of position between 2012 and 2014. Dickerson, who admitted the offence, appeared at Norwich Crown Court today to be sentenced. Recorder Guy Ayers said he accepted the defendant was a man of previous good character who had admitted his offending at the earliest opportunity but could not “ignore the fact it has had a very damaging effect on the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce”. When interviewed by the police, Dickerson full admitted the offence. He claimed he began to take the money to repay an initial loan of £7,000 from a payday lending firm; however, he then took more from the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce and gambled it in an attempt to win back what he had stolen so far. Dickerson admitted he continued to fraudulently take money but never once made a single payment back to the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce. Instead he used the money to gamble and fund his general lifestyle, such as going on holiday, eating out and he also bought himself an Audi A3 for around £12,000. 

Battlefield man sentenced for $945,000 fraud scheme

Tammy Dickinson, United States attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced Sept. 17 that a Battlefield man was sentenced in federal court for embezzling $945,000 from his employer. Travis E. Honaker, 36, of Battlefield was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays on Sept. 16 to three years and one month in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Honaker to pay $945,200 in restitution. On March 18, Honaker pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. Honaker admitted that he engaged in a scheme to defraud his employer, Prime Inc., from Aug. 22, 2007, to December 2011. Through his schemes, Honaker embezzled at least $945,200 over the five-year period of the investigation. The illegally obtained funds were used for Honaker’s personal living expenses and paid for such items as a 2005 BMW SUV, a 2009 Range Rover SUV, a down payment and subsequent mortgage payments on a residence in Battlefield and his wife’s extensive gambling expenses. 

Baton Rouge man sentenced to 5 years in prison 

Baton Rouge man who conned people out of more than $800,000 over a four-year period to fund his gambling habit by telling them he was a hot sauce heir with a $20 million trust fund has been sentenced to more than five years in prison. On Thursday, The Advocate reports Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson also ordered 34-year-old Johnathan E. Williams to pay more than $835,000 in restitution and forfeit another $500,000 as illegal proceeds of his fraud scheme. Jackson, who sentenced Williams to 63 months in prison, immediately remanded him into federal custody after finding he had continued to engage in criminal conduct even after his March guilty plea to wire fraud charges. 

Walmart Mexico Investigated Over Promotional Cockfight 

Walmart’s Mexican operations are being investigating by authorities in the city of Boca del Rio, where customers complained a Walmart store hosted a cockfight to promote a soft drink company. The retailer says it’s the customer gripes are overblown and that, while there were indeed roosters pecking at each other, no actual cockfighting took place. Gambling on cockfights is illegal in Boca del Rio and could result in a fine of up to around $7,200 for the store. The Walmart rep also says there was no gambling at the event. The promotional event took place on Sept. 15, in advance of Mexican Independence Day on the sixteenth, and was to promote a soda company from the area. Local animal rights groups alerted authorities after seeing photos of fighting birds posted online.


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

NBA Commissioner Appears to Stand Against the Anti-Gambling Position that All Professional Leagues have Endorsed for Decades

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on the dealings of the NBA in gambling scenarios and virtually every single report centers around an NBA ideology that is apposed to gambling on its sport. They know all too well with gambling scandals such as NBA referee Tim Donaghythe dangers of gambling and how it can affect the reputation of a league. However, the NBA’s new commissioner, Adam Silver, has promoted gambling as a way to increase the interest in the NBA. Professor John Kindt discuss the issue at length:

My take on [Silver’s stance} is that it’s equivalent to opening Pandora’s box.

It’s especially disheartening, because we should be pushing professional sports more in the direction of protecting the integrity of the game, not toward encouraging people to commit a federal crime, which is what gambling on sports is.

With a few notable exceptions – Las Vegas and a couple of other jurisdictions, among them – gambling on sports is 100 percent illegal. Congress has also repeatedly tried to close the so-called “Las Vegas Loophole.” One example that comes to mind is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. But as long as Nevada Sen. Harry Reid controls the Senate’s Democratic majority, it’s very likely that the loophole will remain open.

The bottom line is, professional sports leagues need to recognize that it’s not only an issue of protecting the integrity of the sport itself, but also of protecting future fans of the sport. Sports gambling is particularly attractive to young people, who are more apt to think they’re bulletproof and then take risks.

So we should be very concerned about the NBA’s reversal and this new message the league is sending to young people.

Professor Kindt continued his analysis by looking at the impact gambling in today’s smart phone and Internet driven era would have on young people:

The U.S. National Gambling Impact Study Commission enacted by Congress in 1999 concluded that it was a national imperative to maintain a complete ban on gambling via the Internet.

If gambling on the Internet – whether it’s through a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone – is the “crack cocaine” of gambling, according to the commission’s study, I would argue that sports gambling is the gateway drug.

The younger generation – that is, the generation that has grown up with the Internet and can’t remember a world without it – is showing nearly double the gambling addiction rate of the next oldest generation. And certain demographic groups within that youth cohort are showing even higher rates of gambling addiction, which is increasing at an alarming rate, according to the medical and psychiatric communities.

If you combine gambling, sports and smartphones, well, that leads sports enthusiasts down what can be a very dangerous path. In some aspects, that is what’s happening with fantasy sports, which is sold to people under the guise of fun and games. Really, it’s just getting people used to the idea of taking risks in the context of professional sports. 

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

Brief Look at Crime 09/15 – 09/19

Suspect charged in Wiley College student slaying


An East Texas man has been charged in the fatal shooting of a Wiley College student during an off-campus argument that left another student wounded. A Marshall police arrest affidavit says the dispute allegedly involved gambling and money owed. Harrison County jail records show 19-year-old Javonte Damone Sanders of Marshall was being held Tuesday on a murder charge with bond at $1 million. Records don’t list an attorney for Sanders, who’s charged in Saturday’s death of 22-year-old Wesley Blackmon of Houston. Wiley College spokeswoman Tammy Taylor said Tuesday that the incident happened during an unsanctioned, off-campus function. She says Blackmon was a transfer student on the basketball team. Taylor says the wounded male student is recovering. 

Ex-Clinton Valley Little League treasurer accused of stealing $300,000

The former treasurer of the Clinton Valley Little League faces the possibility of 20 years in jail after being accused of stealing $300,000 from the Clinton Township-based nonprofit group, according to police and league officials. Karen Ann Dimitrie, 63, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in 41B District Court on charges of embezzlement over $100,000, police said late Wednesday. An attorney for Clinton Valley said new board members discovered financial irregularities after hearing concerns from vendors about not being paid for items such as uniforms. “Some parents ran for the board because they had some concerns that had nothing to do with the financial irregularities, stuff like what to name the teams,” said attorney Linda McGrail Belau. “Once they got on the board, they heard about vendors not being paid in a timely manner and started to look around.” Belau said an internal investigation found the embezzlement stemmed from about 2008 through the 2013 season, which is when the couple stepped down from the league. She said board members were “saddened” and “outraged” by the discovery. “We have all been let down by this person,” she said in a statement, adding the league will seek full restitution. Sources with knowledge of the incident say Dimitrie used the money to pay off casino gambling debts.

 South Florida lawyer imprisoned for snubbing IRS


A South Florida lawyer was imprisoned for a year and one month Thursday after admitting he owed the government more than $924,000 after he stopped filing income tax returns for several years. Steven E. Siff, 56, of Davie, was taken into custody in the federal courtroom in Fort Lauderdale immediately after sentencing. His lawyer, Bruce Udolf, said Siff was a good man who stopped filing his returns because he was overwhelmed by depression during a difficult divorce. Siff tried to maintain his family’s prior standard of living — including keeping his children in private school — and his problems were compounded when he developed a gambling addiction, the defense said. “It wasn’t about greed, it wasn’t that black and white in this case,” Udolf said in an interview. “He lost his way and stopped paying taxes and started gambling. He got behind and then he got so far behind that he couldn’t make up the difference and pay off what he owed.”

Accountant gets 3 years in prison for stealing more than $250,000 from Urban League

A former accountant at Urban League of Rhode Island was sentenced on Friday to three years in prison and a 20-year suspended sentence for stealing more than $250,000 from the struggling non-profit. Manivone Phimmahom, 42, of Cumberland, a small woman, was taken away in handcuffs. She must serve a year at the Adult Correctional Institutions followed by two years of home confinement. Judge Jeffrey A. Lanphear also ordered her to pay $251,617 in restitution. Lanphear barred her from visiting any casinos and ordered her to undergo counseling for her “gambling addiction.”

 Hammond grandmother pleads guilty to $100K raid on grandson’s education trust


A 75-year-old former Hammond woman who admitted in court she stole more than $100,000 from her grandson’s college education trust fund faces more than two years in prison and a judgment against her for restitution. In December 2009, a separate education trust account was opened with Pate as trustee. Between December 2009 and April 2010, when the account was closed with a negative balance, Pate made 49 withdrawals totaling about $6,500. A total of 30 withdrawals were made at ATMs at Majestic Star II Casino in Gary or Ameristar Casino in East Chicago. Pate’s gambling records at Majestic Star Casino show she had $93,662 in losses. Pate’s plea agreement negotiated by defense attorney Lemuel Stigler and deputy prosecutor Veronica Gonzalez calls for a 26-month sentence for theft served in the Indiana Department of Correction, with no option for placement in an alternative sentencing program. It also calls for the judge to enter a judgment for restitution for $103,491.73.

36 SC stores suspended from lottery sales


Lottery officials in South Carolina say three dozen stores have been suspended from selling tickets because of their involvement in the operation of illegal gambling machines. Holli Armstrong with the South Carolina Education Lottery told local media that the stores are being suspended for six months because of the illegal machines. Armstrong says the stores have received a letter about the suspension. The stores’ contracts with the lottery include a provision for a non-appealable six-month suspension if a magistrate determines there are illegal devices in their stores. About 4,000 businesses in South Carolina sell lottery tickets.


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

Florida Legislators Look for Answers regarding Greyhound Industry Issues

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on the fate of greyhound race tracks in Florida and how they impact the gambling landscape. The industry in Florida appears to be on the verge of collapse and more bad press is following the industry. Reports of lax enforcement of greyhound abuse has caught the ire of state legislators. The Tampa Bay Times reports:

Saying that’s Florida’s delayed prosecution of greyhound abuse laws is unacceptable, three Florida lawmakers have ordered state regulators to provide them detailed answers to questions involving animal cruelty and abuse allegations.

“As the Miami Herald reported this morning, regulatory agencies in other states are consistently resolving cases of greyhound neglect and cruelty in a matter of weeks, if not days,” the lawmakers wrote to DBPR Secretary Ken Lawson and division director Leon Biegalski.

“By contrast, at least some cases of greyhound neglect and cruelty are not being fully addressed in our state for years. Due to these extensive delays, licensees are allowed to remain in the industry, and be responsible for a large number of dogs, for months or years after  they are implicated in an apparent case of greyhound cruelty. This is simply unacceptable.”

In addition to abuse allegations not being resolved in a timely manner, Florida legislators are also questioning as those with criminal pasts being allowed to obtain operating licenses. The Tampa Bay Times continues:

The Herald reported that in the last year, state regulators have granted 80 occupational licenses to owners and trainers who have been convicted of a host of felonies — from cocaine, heroin and amphetamine possession to assault and battery — and denied 115 requests from people with felony convictions.

Florida law bans anyone convicted of a felony from working in a card room or a casino but allows them to be licensed to race horses and dogs, as long as they receive a waiver.

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

Brief Look at Crime 09/08 – 09/14

Remus woman sent to prison for gunning down gambling partner, lover

A 33-year-old Remus woman is heading to prison for up to 40 years for fatally shooting her 68-year-old lover. Clare County Circuit Judge Thomas R. Evans on Wednesday, Sept. 10, sentenced Oanh K. Bass to 15 to 40 years on a conviction of second-degree murder and two years for felony firearm. Bass was originally charged with open murder, which could have resulted in her being convicted of first-degree murder, requiring a sentence of life without parole. In a June 2013 preliminary examination, prosecutors played recordings of investigators’ interview with Bass. She told them she met Dennis at Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant and that they subsequently became gambling buddies and sex partners, the Clare County Review reported. Bass told detectives she went to Dennis’ cabin hoping to end their relationship, but admitted bringing a loaded pistol with her, according to the report. “I just wanted it to end,” she told detectives, according to the report. “I just pointed and shot. I shut my eyes and pulled the trigger. He just laid there, and I went back to the casino.” 

Man shot dead on Sydney footpath revealed as high roller

A gambling high roller and suspected underworld criminal infamous for wagering more than $90 million at Australian casinos has been gunned down in a Sydney street while awaiting trial in Melbourne. Peter Tan Hoang, 36, was shot dead on Dunmore Street at Croydon Park in Sydney in the early hours of Sunday. Paramedics tried to save him after he was found on the footpath outside a house but he died at the scene. Mr Hoang, an orphaned Vietnamese refugee turned professional gambler, was a suspected underworld gambling figure. He was regarded as a “dead-set gambler” who was known to frequent not only Australia’s major casinos but also illegal gaming houses. He also went by the name Peter Minh Nguyen, police said. He was arrested at Melbourne’s Crown Casino carrying $1.5 million in cash in 2012 – alleged to have been the proceeds of crime – and was due to stand trial in Melbourne in August next year.

Crooked accountant jailed for cheating Gloucestershire charity out of more than £100,000 

Fox pleaded guilty to abusing his position as financial director to defraud Stroud based charity, Citizens Online, out of £100,800. The bankrupt 50-year-old was sentenced to eight months in prison at Gloucester Crown Court yesterday. Recorder Jim Tindal said: “This was an abuse of your position as a trusted financial advisor and you have left a charity in an extremely difficult position. You have also made the selfish decision to make yourself bankrupt so that you have no legal obligation to pay the charity back.” The court heard that Fox, previously of Chipping Campden, but now from Sidmouth Street in Reading, has a gambling addiction and was trying to recoup money he had lost. “The money taken was almost all of the charity’s reserves,” said Mr Kesner.

 One million slot machines seized at underground casinos in Russia over 5 years

About a million slot machines have been seized at underground casinos in Russia over the past five years, the Prosecutor General’s Office announced on Monday. Gambling, including at casinos, was banned in Russia on July 1, 2009, with the exception of four designated areas President Vladimir Putin signed a law in July setting up a gambling zone in Crimea and Sochi with its Winter Olympics venues. Since gambling was banned in 2009, over 100,000 facilities were inspected, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office. As a result, they closed over 70,000 illegal gambling facilities and 812 illegal casinos, and confiscated over 970,000 items of gambling equipment, the office said in a statement.Fines totaling more than 684 million rubles ($18.5 million) have been imposed on the heads of these facilities. Over 115 million rubles ($3.1 million) have been collected to the federal budget by court orders. Criminal proceedings were initiated in 1,664 cases.

Man arrested after baby left in car outside casino

Tunica County authorities say a man has been charged with child neglect after leaving his 1-year-old baby in a running vehicle while he was in a casino. WMC-TV reports that Martin Bass was arrested Tuesday afternoon and taken to the Tunica County jail. The Sheriff’s Department says the baby is fine, but may have been in the car for almost an hour. Investigators say the baby was found in the driver’s seat playing with the steering wheel while the car was running outside Bally’s casino in Tunica. Deputies say the Department of Human Services was notified after the father’s arrest. It was not immediately clear whether the child is in protective custody or staying with family members.

 Former Navy SEAL admits swindling other SEALs 

A former Navy SEAL has pleaded guilty to swindling 11 former and active-duty SEALs out of more than $1 milion. Jason Matthew Mullaney, 41, pleaded guilty Monday in San Diego County Superior Court to grand theft and fraud. Prosecutors allege that Mullaney promised the 11 investors returns of 24% from real estate and loan deals but instead used the money for a lavish lifestyle, including gambling trips to Las Vegas. He faces a sentence of six years and eight months to 12 years and eight months when he is sentenced Oct. 7.

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

Brief Look at Crime 09/01 – 09/07

Fraudster who stole £3m from City firm while working in its payroll department gambled 

A City worker stole almost £3million from his employer then frittered it away on gambling, chauffeur-driven cars and a Thai bride. Dennis Harold, 60, spent six years inventing fake companies and temporary staff to transfer funds from London recruitment firm Devonshire Appointments, where he was a payroll administrator. Today the father-of-four was jailed for four years – along with a colleague who discovered the scam but took £1million to keep quiet. The Old Bailey heard Harold, a trusted employee of 14 years, squirreled away £2.9million through more than 20 invented bank accounts between 2007 and 2013. He then squandered an estimated £1.2million, much of it on his gambling addiction as he paid repeated visits to casinos. The fraud was finally exposed in 2013 when an audit uncovered a small discrepancy in the accounts. Harold initially tried to cover up it up by presenting auditors with false documents, but when that failed he confessed to his bosses. 

Caregiver accused of swindling $1M from woman (FL)

A South Florida caregiver is accused of swindling an 86-year-old woman with dementia out of almost $1 million. Investigators say 39-year-old Marie Petit Louis was arrested Tuesday following a two-year investigation that began shortly before Annette Reff died in 2012. She’s charged with exploitation of the elderly in a complicated bank transfer scheme. Reff’s daughter notified authorities after noticing large chunks of money missing from her savings account. The Miami Herald reports investigators learned Petit Louis instructed investment officials to transfer money from several accounts into a savings account. They say she accompanied Reff to the bank numerous times, withdrawing amounts under $10,000. Petit Louis was a regular at Miami’s Magic City Casino and a member of the High Roller’s Club. 

Wind Gap man who stole from elderly aunt gets 9 months in prison, will owe $237,000

Wind Gap man who looted his elderly aunt’s bank accounts will serve nine to 23 months in Northampton County Prison and owe nearly $237,000.Michael Dovyak Jr., 54, blamed a gambling addiction when he pleaded guilty in July to felony theft. He was sentenced Friday by President Judge Stephen Baratta, who also put him on probation for three years. Dovyak admitted draining money from the accounts of Martha Liero, who had raised him from childhood. He’ll be required to make restitution to the beneficiaries of the late Liero’s estate, who include other nieces and nephews. Liero’s accounts showed numerous checks and cash withdrawals by Dovyak, which he could not explain. Authorities said he also transferred ownership of Liero’s trust and retirement accounts into accounts belonging to him. Initially, Dovyak claimed that had used several thousand dollars of the money for Liero’s “care and well-being.” But he later admitted he dissipated the money through gambling and other expenses, authorities said. 

Long-delayed bingo theft trial on docket for $400,000 gambling embezzlement

A mother and daughter accused of embezzling $734,738 in bingo proceeds are set to finally go to trial Monday in Luzerne County Court. Court documents filed at that time indicated an investigation and audit by the state Bureau of Charitable Organizations — launched in 2005 after Drago allegedly submitted incomplete information as part of a routine survey — found more than $558,000 in unaccounted revenue. The audit showed a total income of $1.32 million, with only about $765,000 in deposited bank income. A search warrant affidavit alleged Drago and Gamble had written $416,077 in checks to themselves from January 2004 to September 2006.

Md. man left child in car while gambling

Delaware State Police have arrested a Maryland man for leaving his child unattended in a car while he was gambling in a casino. State troopers were called to Harrington Raceway and Casino just Monday afternoon for a child left in a car parked in a handicapped parking spot. Police say the engine was still running, and the child did not appear to be in distress. Troopers removed the 14-month-old girl from the car, and casino managers paged for the owner of the vehicle. Police say 26-year-old Justin Middleton of Preston, Maryland, responded to the car. He initially denied leaving the baby in the car but later acknowledged he had left the girl in the car while he was inside gambling. Middleton was charged with reckless endangering and other charges. 

Northborough priest charged with stealing $230K to support gambling habit

WORCESTER, Massachusetts — A Roman Catholic priest is scheduled to appear in court to answer to charges that he stole more than $230,000 from the Northborough parish where he served as pastor to support a gambling habit. The Rev. Stephen Gemme, former pastor of St. Bernadette, faces arraignment in Worcester Superior Court on Wednesday following his indictment by a grand jury last week on five counts of larceny by a common scheme over $250. The Worcester Diocese announced last October that Gemme had stolen from two accounts since 2008. The thefts went undetected until a member of the school’s advisory board flagged a financial irregularity in a school account and informed Worcester Bishop Robert McManus. Gemme acknowledged a gambling problem and offered his resignation, which was accepted, according to a letter from McManus to parishioners.

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

Brief Look at Crime 08/25 – 08/31

Woman accused of stealing Maryland Live high-rollers list for rival casino

A former employee of Maryland Live stole a list of high rollers and used it to recruit gamblers at her new job with Baltimore’s Horseshoe casino, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court last week. Helena Wong worked as a VIP host at Maryland Live until June, according to the suit, when she took a new job at Horseshoe. Before leaving, she copied a list of Maryland Live’s 1,000 best customers and used it to send a mass e-mail to arrange for them to come and play with her new employer, according to the lawsuit. “If any of you would like to visit the property or come for a night or two, please contact me ahead of time so that I can set it up for you,” Wong wrote in an Aug. 20 email included in the court filings. “Look forward to seeing you all!!” On Friday, a federal judge in Baltimore issued an emergency restraining order that requires Wong and anyone else to stop using any alleged stolen information. Horseshoe is not named as a party to the suit but the allegations underscore the fierce competition between the two casinos that the opening of the Baltimore venue Tuesday night is expected to generate. In the suit, Maryland Live calls Horseshoe “its principal competitor.”

Oakland police: Nephew killed himself after aunt died in staged robbery


A man who committed suicide in March by setting himself on fire had killed his 77-year-old aunt the month before during a home-invasion robbery he staged in their apartment to get money to apparently pay off gambling debts, authorities said Friday. After being presented with DNA and other evidence gathered by police in the death of Susan Fong on Feb. 7, prosecutors decided the case could be closed under the legal concept of death of the offender — her nephew Richard Fang, authorities said. Alameda County district attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said the case was “intensively investigated by the Oakland Police Department and thoroughly reviewed by this office. It has been determined that the person responsible for the murder of Mrs. Fong is now deceased. We are certain we have identified the offender and he is no longer alive.” Fong died of probable asphyxia due to tape applied over her nose and mouth. Fang also had tape over his mouth. Authorities later learned she had been given an extra sleeping pill the night before by her nephew. 

More than $100,000 stolen in Hialeah Park robbery, police say (FL)


More than $100,000 were stolen from Hialeah Park Racing and Casino during an armed robbery Sunday, police said. According to detectives, a man wearing a ski mask struck an elderly employee in the side of his head while he was in an office where people bet on thoroughbred horses. Detectives said he then tied the victim’s hands together with nylon tie-wraps, and stole a large sum of money, estimated to be more than $100,000. Police said the robber was armed with a gun, but officials at Hialeah Park said the weapon was later discovered to be a toy gun. Police said the victim was knocked unconscious and the thief managed to get in and out of the building within a few minutes. 

Treasurer of historic private member’s club stole more than £500,000


The treasurer of one of Britain’s most historic private member’s clubs is facing jail after stealing more than £500,000 to feed a gambling habit. Alfonso Ramirez, 44, swindled the East India Club, in London’s exclusive St James’s district, out of £553,129.52 over a four-year period while serving as the club’s accounts manager. The East India Club in London’s exclusive St James’s Square has attracted the great and the good for more than 160 years, including Prince Albert, Lord    Mountbatten and Lord Randolph Churchill. The mansion house boasts 66 bedrooms and charges annual fees of up to £985 for its 5,200 members. After the theft was discovered, embarrassed officials were forced to write to each member to inform that the money had been stolen from club funds. Ramirez transferred £536,600 into his private bank account from the special interest account of the club between January 2010 and January this year. Ramirez appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday to plead guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position. 

DCFS seizes $2M in gambling winnings from dead beat parents


The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) reported more than $2 million in state gambling winnings have gone directly to the children of parents behind on child support. According to DCFS, $2,052,985.80 in winnings was intercepted as of June 2014. Officials said they garnered it from 1,526 parents. “It is a tremendous accomplishment to collect more than $2 million through casino intercepts in this amount of time,” said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. “Each collection made, large or small, proves that this program is an essential tool for collecting what is owed to Louisiana’s children.” Hollywood Casino in Baton Rouge was No. 2 on the list in intercepts with $177,494.33. Boomtown Belle in New Orleans was first with $191,006. 

Parents detained after 2 kids found alone in car parked outside casino


The parents of two children, a 1-year-old and 4-year-old, are in police custody after being accused of leaving their children inside a car parked at a casino parking lot. Hialeah Police Detectives have charged Tyrell Johnson and his girlfriend, Josephine Laidler, with child neglect after the couple allegedly left their two children alone inside a parked car outside Hialeah Park Casino at 2200 East 4th Ave., shortly after midnight Thursday. But this is not the first time this has happened in South Florida. In January, Anthony Wells left his two children, ages 4 months and 18 months, inside a parked car at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. He was charged with child neglect. In July of last year, two women left four children between the ages of 2 and 8 years inside a running car at the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach. One of them said the devil was to blame. “It comes to a point where God is talking here, and the devil is trying to trick you here,” said the woman as she pointed at her heart and head. Both women were also charged with child neglect.




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