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.


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