Monthly Archives: October 2014

Pro Sports Leagues File Injunction to stop New Jersey Sports Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported that New Jersey has passed legislation attempting to work around Federal Law that prohibits sports gambling outside of a few jurisdictions. The US Dept. of Justice said very clearly they oppose this attempted work around and now the major sports leagues have echoed the Justice Departments sentiments and filed for an injunction. The Times Union online reports: 

The four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA filed papers in court Monday to stop New Jersey’s plan to allow legal sports betting beginning this weekend, when gamblers could become the first in the nation outside Nevada to wager on single games.

The leagues filed a motion in federal court in Trenton seeking an injunction that would stop the state from allowing casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting under legislation signed into law by Republican Gov. Chris Christie last Friday.

The NFL, the NBA, the NHL, Major League Baseball and the NCAA, in their filing, say New Jersey’s new law violates the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act by offering what amounts to state-sponsored sports gambling by restricting it to casinos and racetracks that are already heavily regulated by the state.

New Jersey’s latest effort is “in clear and flagrant violation of federal law,” the brief states, adding that the law Christie signed “is nothing more than a de facto authorization of sports gambling.”

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

Brief Look at Crime 10/20 – 10/26

Woman accused of concealing 6 dead babies

The woman charged with concealing six infants was just in court last month being sentenced on fraud charges. Andrea Giesbrecht, 40, has been charged with six counts of concealing bodies of infants and breaching probation after the bodies were found in a U-Haul storage locker on Monday afternoon. At a sentencing hearing on Sept. 30, court heard Giesbrecht has a gambling problem and marriage problems.  The Crown also said Giesbrecht had a good upbringing, had “great” relationship with her parents and family members – including her husband – were aware of her addiction. That addiction had been going on for 14 years. The Crown called the crime “despicable.” The defence said Giesbrecht wanted to pay the money back and she was “always going to make the slot machine come through for me.” The defence said Giesbrecht didn’t have much money and she works at Tim Hortons. Her parents were also gamblers and their home had liens on it. 

Ex-Treasurer Stole $3M From Company

Federal prosecutors say the former treasurer of a Houston-based health care system embezzled nearly $3 million that was used for private jet travel, gambling in Las Vegas and to pay off credit card bills. Prosecutors announced Thursday that 41-year-old Joseph S. Antonucci of Houston pleaded guilty to charges that include 15 counts of wire fraud. They say from 2007 to 2012 Antonucci embezzled from the company’s bank accounts. Authorities said in a statement that he admitted to unauthorized transfers and withdrawals from the accounts to himself. He created false financial documents that concealed his actions. Some of the stolen money also was used for a down payment on his home.

Ex-county analyst sentenced to prison in insurance scheme

A former Clark County human resources analyst was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison Thursday in a scheme to steal $827,445 from an auto insurance company.nErik Holman, 49, also was ordered to pay back the money to American Family Insurance and serve three years of supervised release after prison. U.S. District Judge James Mahan gave him until Jan. 23 to surrender to federal prison authorities. In March a federal jury found Holman guilty of one conspiracy count and 14 wire fraud counts in the insurance scheme, which occurred between October 2005 and April 2009. He worked for Clark County for roughly 12 years until his felony conviction. Holman maintained his innocence to the end, telling Mahan Thursday that he was betrayed by Provost, who had a massive gambling addiction, and knew nothing about the scheme.

Kids left in car while dad gambles at casino

A Mesa father doing some early morning gambling at a Valley casino on Wednesday was arrested after leaving his two toddlers unattended inside a vehicle for nearly two hours, authorities say. Salt River police arrested Gregory T. Devereux, 29, at Talking Stick Resort near Scottsdale after a casino bike-patrol officer found Devereux’s two children in a car in the casino’s parking garage, police records said. A 2-year-old and 3-year-old had been in the car for about two hours while Devereux and his girlfriend were on the main floor of the casino, records said. The Arizona Department of Child Safety were called to the scene and took custody of the children.

Edmonton fraudster repeatedly remortgaged his parents’ home

An Edmonton fraudster who repeatedly remortgaged his parents’ home by pretending to be his father for a total of more than $1 million was blasted by a judge Wednesday. “You put your selfish self-interest ahead of your parents,” said Day. “What you subjected your parents to almost leaves me speechless.” The judge also told the cocaine and gambling addict that he should reflect on what he did to his “loving and supporting” parents while he is behind bars. “The hell you put your parents through. Never forget that and spend the rest of your life making amends to them.” Defence lawyer Dan Chivers told court Guapo was addicted to cocaine and gambling and said all of the fraudulently-obtained money went to casinos. He added Guapo is banned from all casinos and has taken counselling.

Williamsport Company Charged with Money Laundering Charges

The state attorney general’s office filed a money laundering charge against a Williamsport company that was allegedly operating video gambling games in five counties. Prosecutors said Pennsylvania Coin maintained illegal gambling devices in 180 businesses in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming Counties. As part of a plea agreement, the Williamsport company will end up shelling out about $1.4 million in fines and payments and 288 seized gambling machines.

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

New Jersey Legislature passes sports betting bill – Issue still opposed by State Department

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of legalized professional sports betting in New Jersey. This battle has been fought over 4 years and presumably ended when the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling making legislation passed by New Jersey to legalize sports betting void. Federal law clearly only allows sports betting in a few venues and New Jersey legislators can’t seem to accept that decision. The state legislature has now passed new laws trying to circumvent the Supreme Courts ruling. The Times Union online explains:

State lawmakers passed legislation Thursday that could allow legal sports betting in New Jersey to move forward.

The Assembly passed a measure that was overwhelmingly approved earlier this week in the state Senate. It’s aimed at helping the state’s foundering casino and racetrack industries, and would partially repeal prohibitions against sports wagering in the state.

Casino Watch Focus reported that the general feeling of those in the legislature is that the Federal Government simply wont care about enforcing existing laws and so New Jersey would simply do the same, a situation similar to the legalization of marijuana in a few states. However, the US Department of Justice has made it very clear that they oppose New Jersey’s strange attempt at a legal workaround:  

According to the website, the federal government branded the state’s legal strategy as “meritless theory” and called on District Judge Michael Shipp to keep an existing court order in place to halt the plans. 

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

Brief Look at Crime 10/13 – 10/19

Grandview man accused of extorting $3 million 

A local businessman thought that the $3 million he’d paid to a Grandview man had been spent bribing judges and paying off lawyers in pending drug cases. But he was so wrong, according to federal prosecutors. Instead, the 39-year-old Grandview man spent the money gambling in Las Vegas, purchasing high-end automobiles and buying luxury items from Gucci, according to federal court records released Monday. Authorities accused Lewis of money laundering and making exortionate communications. The scam began in July 2012, when Lewis allegedly agreed to sell the local businessman $3,000 worth of cocaine. After that deal fell through, Lewis said that his drug source had assessed a $10,000 “penalty” against the businessman. The businessman paid it, expecting to receive the cocaine. He eventually received a bag of flour instead, according to court records.

Woman who stole millions from Housing Trust in Wollongong jailed 

As a data entry clerk, Agtarap’s job at the trust  was to handle day-to-day  transactions including managing the payroll, transferring  funds into different bank accounts and preparing financial reports. In reality, Agtarap siphoned money from the trust  between November 2006 and April 2013 by changing the data on the trust’s online banking system so payments intended for internal transfer, or transfer to a third party, flowed to her bank account. The thefts succeeded even though two managers had to enter approval codes  for the transactions to go ahead. Agtarap then simply withdrew the money and poured it through poker machines across the Illawarra and Sydney, gambling more than $21million between 2006 and 2013.

DA says disbarred attorney stole $107K from estate

A western Pennsylvania attorney who agreed to be disbarred in July has been charged with stealing $107,000 from the estate of a woman killed in a car crash. Online court records don’t list an attorney for 64-year-old Kirby Boring, of Franklin Park. He faces an Oct. 21 preliminary hearing on charges announced Thursday by the Allegheny County district attorney’s office. The DA says Boring deposited a $190,000 settlement check that another attorney won in a lawsuit stemming from the woman’s death. But instead of using the money to cover estate costs, the DA contends Boring — who has told investigators he has a gambling problem — spent $107,000.

Joburg man fakes own kidnapping to pay off debt

Police are investigating the case of a Johannesburg man who allegedly faked his own kidnapping in order to extort money from his family to pay off gambling debts. According to Douglasdale police spokesperson Warrant Officer Balan Muthan, the man had sent an SMS to his family – who were visiting family in KwaZulu-Natal – saying he had been kidnapped in Turffontein by casino loan sharks who wanted him to pay them R1 million, Fourways Review reported. The man had asked his wife to gather as much money as she could from their family members, so he could “at least give the loan sharks something to dissuade them from killing him”.

Man with mob ties receives prison time as part of plea on gambling ring

Johnston resident prosecutors describe as a mob associate will serve more than three years in prison as part of a plea agreement entered in Superior Court this week. Vincent “Tootsie” Tallo, 53, with a last known address of 12 Poppyhill Drive in Johnston, entered a plea of no contest on charges he operated an illegal gambling ring. Under the terms of the agreement, he was sentenced to 20 years with 40 months to serve, and the remainder of the sentence was suspended with probation. “Hollywood may have glamorized the mob lifestyle, but Vinny Tallo is nothing more than a common criminal hanging on to the fantasy of being in the game with a ‘made guy.’ There is nothing glamorous about selling drugs, bookmaking or prison,” Attorney General Peter Kilmartin states in a press release.

Former general manager jailed for conspiracy to cheat company of $4 million

A district court heard that Teo conspired with various vendors and individuals to issue fake invoices to deceive Newtech into making payments totalling $4 million. Newtech provides mechanical and electrical engineering services. While the company’s accounts were being reviewed in July 2011, it was discovered that there were 101 invoices received from “vendors” between February 2010 and June 2011, for services that had not been given. There were also 94 false purchase orders that Teo had requested and approved. Investigations showed that Teo was a frequent gambler at the Resorts World Sentosa casino, and often borrowed money from his fellow gamblers. To repay his loans and satisfy his gambling addiction, he cooked up a plan to work with others to submit fictitious invoices for non-existent services.

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

Florida Gambling Cruise Line Fleeces Customers

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on the gambling cruise industry in Florida. These cruise ships take customers out into international waters where there are no gambling regulations. Legislation has even been considered that would allow ships to stay docked. Recently a cruise company offered a cruise to customers online, but after they paid for the trip and showed up, the ship wasn’t boarding or leaving port. A local NBC affiliate explains: 

A Palm Beach County family says a planned trip on a casino cruise never happened.

And they’re not alone. NewsChannel 5 has heard from three people who say they recently bought a ticket for the Island Breeze Casino Cruise. When they showed up for departure, no one was at the port and the boat wasn’t going anywhere.

“Free drinks, live entertainment, a cruise for six hours, it all sounded exciting,” said Jeannie Therrien.

She didn’t hesitate to book tickets for the Island Breeze Casino last week and even invited her nephew in Vermont to come down and tag along.

“I just flew 1,500 miles just to get disappointed. I’m [not] happy about that,” Brooks explained.

“Oh I was irate, I was angry,” Therrien added.

She called the company asking for an explanation, but never heard back. And later this week, her credit card was billed three times what she paid. 

There is virtually no oversight when it comes to cruise ship gambling. There are no laws protecting customers to ensure fair or safe gambling. In cases like this, the customers will have to travel all the way back to the area the next time the ship actually plans to leave port to even participate. The official story was that the website was up and running too early, but the company only offered refunds after the news station got involved, not before. If they cant be trusted to provide reasonable customer service, why would anyone think the casino gambling games they run would be any better?

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

Brief Look at Crime 10/06 – 10/12

Ex-councilman gets 50 to 132 months in thefts

A former suburban Philadelphia councilman who acknowledged having stolen almost $3 million for gambling has been sentenced to 50 to 132 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution. The former Collingdale councilman pleaded guilty in July to forgery and theft charges in the theft of $2.9 million over 10 years from Wescott Electric in Aston. Bryan said he was “truly sorry” for what he called actions that “destroyed people’s lives.” Defense attorney Michael Diamondstein said his client “is going to live for the rest of his life feeling horrible about what he did.”

Man Sentenced to Death for Double Murder had Gambling Addiction 

An Indian man who committed a 2012 double murder in the US will be sentenced to death by the Montgomery County Court in Pennsylvania. The 28-year-old IT professional, Raghunandan Yandamuri, was convicted of killing his Satyavathi Venna, 61, and her 10-month-old granddaughter, Saanvi Venna, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.  Prosecutors claim the man plotted to kidnap the child for ransom to help pay for his gambling addiction. The jury of five women and seven men deliberated for nearly four hours on Tuesday to determine his life sentence without the possibility of parole.  Formal sentencing will take place in 45 days.

Health dept. accountant pleads guilty to $1M theft

A former state health department accountant pleaded guilty to felony theft by fraud and malfeasance in office Thursday, admitting that she stole more than $1 million from Louisiana’s Medicaid program in what the state Attorney General’s Office said was a scheme that footed the bill for a serious gambling addiction. Deborah Crowder Loper, 47, entered the plea in state court in Baton Rouge. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office said Loper used much of the money at Baton Rouge area casinos. Under a plea agreement detailed in a news release from Caldwell’s office, Loper is set to receive a 10-year prison sentence, with five years suspended, and five years of active supervised probation. She has also agreed to pay a little more than $1 million in restitution to the State of Louisiana.

Wrentham woman arraigned on charges she embezzled $2.7 million

A former longtime employee of a local medical supply company pleaded innocent Wednesday in Dedham Superior Court to stealing about $2.7 million from the business over a seven-year period to go on gambling stints and shopping sprees. The married mother of three and lifelong resident of Wrentham is accused of stealing from Dale Medical Products in Plainville while she was a bookkeeper at the company, where she held a number of jobs for more than 20 years. Richard, who allegedly went on gambling trips to Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., and shopping sprees at area retails businesses and online, was fired from the company in April after the alleged thefts were uncovered in a company audit.

Hyderabad painter throttles wife to death 

A 40-year-old woman was murdered reportedly by her husband after an argument broke out between them over the latter’s addiction to gambling, at Chinnakamela in Trimulgherry. Though the incident happened on Saturday night, it came to light on Sunday when the victim’s children lodged a complaint with police. The deceased, Tara, was working as a domestic help and her husband, Narasimha, is a painter. On Saturday night, Narasimha informed his brother, who also stays in the neighbourhood, that Tara had committed suicide by hanging. “When Narasimha’s brother and family members rushed to the former’s house, they found Tara lying unconscious on the bed. They took her to a nearby hospital where she was declared brought dead,” Trimulgherry inspector P Ravi Kiran said. After the incident, Narasimha informed his son Mahesh, an auto driver, and daughter Kalpana, who reside in other parts of the city, that Tara had committed suicide and she was buried at Subhash Nagar graveyard. However, as Narasimha was giving contradictory versions about their mother’s death, the children grew suspicious and lodged a complaint with police. During interrogation, Narasimha reportedly confessed that he had killed Tara by throttling her after an argument broke out between them over his addiction to satta betting.

Bank manager accused of embezzling $5.2 million 

A former U.S. Bank manager is accused of embezzling more than $5.2 million from the bank branch she managed. According to an affidavit or criminal complaint offered by a special agent of the U.S. Secret Service, Scarpelli as branch manager was responsible for overseeing or authorizing loans to businesses based on lines of credit. In April 2014, Scarpelli’s trash was searched, and Hollywood Casino paperwork with a player’s card number, among other items, was found, the agent’s report said. According to a search of her state tax records, Scarpelli reported gambling winnings of $93,390 in 2011 and more than $1.1 million in 2012, the complaint said.

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

Florida Legislators Co-Sponsor Greyhound Racing Bill

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing concerns over Greyhound Racing practices ranging from the mistreatment of animals to the hiring of those with criminal pasts. After Florida Legislators demanded answers last month following a series of newspaper stories highlighting abuse, new legislation is be co-sponsored to attempt to address some glaring issues. The Miami Herald reports: 

Co-sponsored in the Florida House of Representatives by Rep. Kevin Rader (D-Boca Raton), the “Greyhound Safety Act” would prohibit anyone convicted of a felony for animal cruelty, child abuse, aggravated assault or battery from obtaining a license or permit from the Division of Parimutuel Wagering, the state agency which oversees the dog racing industry.

The bill was filed in response to numerous concerns raised by the Miami Herald, which found that in the last year, state regulators issued occupational licenses to individuals who had been convicted of a host of crimes, including assault and battery.

“Turning over the health and safety of these dogs to someone with a criminal history of violence is begging for trouble,” said Senator Smith. “Denying a license shouldn’t be discretionary; it should be mandatory.”

Other issues centered around the direct safety of the dogs at the tracks. The legislation outlines new safeguards attempting to alleviate those concerns. The Herald continues:

The legislation also contains provisions to prevent greyhound injuries by requiring the dog tracks in Florida to implement a three point safety plan. The bill  specifically calls on race tracks to upgrade their facilities by maintaining a safe track surface, insulating all exposed electrical wires, and installing a safety device to remove lures from the racing surface. Finally, the legislation also requires that tracks report all injures to greyhound race dogs that take place at the tracks.

“This simple 3-point safety plan is long overdue and will dramatically improve the safety of the dogs, at a nominal cost to the operators,” said Rep. Rader. “These track upgrades will go a long way in protecting Florida’s greyhounds.”

Time will tell if these measures will be sufficient enough to revive an industry that is clearly on the verge of collapse.

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

Brief Look at Crime 09/29 – 10/05

Caretaker gambled away $233,000 in stolen cash 

A caretaker who stole $250,000 from a local elderly woman in her care — and then lost nearly all the money gambling — has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison. Ana Veronica Hagan, 46, of El Paso, Texas, pleaded guilty in Linn County Circuit Court to first-degree criminal mistreatment and two counts of first-degree theft on Sept. 26. She was sentenced the same day, and restitution was set at $250,000. In an e-mail to the newspaper this week, Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Crow said authorities were able to track Hagan’s spending of the victim’s money through financial institutions and a gambling “club card” from New Mexico. “Based on records obtained from the Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino, the defendant lost just over $233,000 gambling,” Crow said.

Ex-office manager sentenced for embezzling $1M

The former office manager of a Milwaukee area talent agency has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for embezzling more than $1 million to cover gambling losses. Dikiara was office manager of Talent Associates in Brookfield and later in Menomonee Falls. The agency places musicians and other artists in shows throughout the Midwest. According to court documents, from 1986 to 2012 Dikiara handled the firm’s books and records. The documents say in 1998, she began losing money playing slot machines at Potawatomi Bingo Casino. Court records say to cover her losses, Dikiara wrote checks to herself, using phony vendor names and forging the company president’s name.

Three Men Indicted Over Mob Link To Boston-Area Casino Deal

A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted three men on charges they tried to conceal a mob associate’s ownership stake in land near Boston upon which Wynn Resorts has proposed to build a $1.6 billion casino. The Wynn Resorts proposal beat out one by Mohegan Sun for the sole license to operate a casino in Greater Boston last month. “Today’s developments have darkened a cloud which has been lingering for some time over the land transactions necessary for Wynn Resorts’ project in Everett,” Mohegan Sun said in a statement. “We will be monitoring future developments relative to these criminal indictments of people associated with the Wynn Resorts project site in Everett, and any impact they may have on the licensing and regulatory process,” Mohegan Sun said.

Hawaii insurance agent pleads guilty to defrauding senior citizens

Kevin Alan Loux, owner of the Loux Financial Group, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Tuesday to federal wire fraud charges. The 63-year-old licensed independent life insurance and annuity broker, who operated in Hawaii and California, admitted he stole $463,000 from five victims between 2009 through 2014. Headquartered in vacation rentals in San Diego County, California and Princeville, Kauai, Loux targeted senior citizens who were existing clients in his Ponzi Scheme. He spent their money to enhance his lifestyle and to gamble.

Alleged ‘acting boss’ of New England Mafia arrested 

In a federal indictment unsealed today, Anthony “Spucky” Spagnolo was called the “acting boss of the New England Family of the La Cosa Nostra,’’ which is the name the FBI uses for the Mafia. A Revere man today was identified by federal law enforcement officials as the acting head of the New England Mafia as they charged him with extorting tens of thousands of dollars in protection payments from a video poker machine company and a social club. Spagnolo, 72, who is also called “Crazy Eyes,’’ allegedly ordered a “made member’’ of the Mafia identified as 74-year-old Pryce “Stretch” Quintina to collect monthly protection payments from the owners of the video poker machine company, Constitution Vending Co.

Woman who stole $200k from charity loses appeal 

A Wollongong woman who stole almost $200,000 from a hospital charity to feed her gambling addiction has failed to have her jail sentence suspended. Carole Goddard will spend eight months behind bars after pleading guilty to feeding money from the Friends of Wollongong Hospital charity into her own pockets while she was acting as the group’s treasurer over a six-year period. A district court sitting in Sutherland heard Goddard, 56, used the funds to gamble at pubs and clubs throughout the Illawarra, or to pay for rent and household items when she’d blown her weekly wage on the pokies. Police documents presented to the court said Goddard’s scheme only came to light when the group’s secretary, Roslyn Perizzolo, received an anonymous email mid last year detailing the allegations.

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