Monthly Archives: December 2014

NBA Commissioner Draws Up ‘Bait and Switch’ Play to Expand Sports Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of New Jersey to expand sports betting in their state. Each time the New Jersey legislature has passed legislation, the pro-sports teams along with the NCAA and Federal Justice Dept have responded with court injuctions and lawsuits to prevent sports gambling expansion. The NBA was a key opponent to their legislative attempts not only in the past, but as recent as few months ago when the newest efforts by New Jersey became tied up in court. So imagine the surprising statements of current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that support federal expansion of sports gambling. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie explains how Silver’s position and his direct statements to work with Gov. Christie are no more than a bait and switch move:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says a call from the National Basketball Association commissioner to join him in lobbying Congress to legalize sports betting across the nation is a “bait and switch”

Christie said during a televised interview Monday night that it was “kind of crazy” for NBA commissioner Adam Silver to ask him to help with a legalization push when Silver is part of a lawsuit blocking sports betting in his state.

“I think it’s kind of crazy for the commissioner of the NBA to say, on one hand, ‘Join me governor, let’s have legalized sports gaming everywhere. But not in New Jersey right now,'” Christie said.

This position is also contrary to everything the NBA has stood for over the years. They shouldn’t need to be reminded of the troubles gambling scandals can bring to the sport. It’s a troubling road this new NBA Commissioner is following. Keep following to stay up to date on sports gambling expansion developments.

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

Brief Look at Crime 12/22 – 12/28

Foxwoods dealer faces cheating charge

A dealer is accused of cheating to help two Foxwoods Resort Casino patrons win more than $500,000 at mini-baccarat. George Zhu, 42, of Flushing, N.Y., was arraigned Tuesday in New London Superior Court. He helped Bayside, N.Y., husband and wife Bo Heng Zhang and Yan Wang win this year while dealing to them privately at the casino, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Zhu was arrested Nov. 6 by the Foxwoods state police casino unit on charges of first-degree larceny and cheating at gambling. He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison if he is convicted at a trial. According to police, Foxwoods security began an investigation after Zhang and Wang won more than $80,000 while gambling at mini-baccarat while Zhu dealt between May 30 and June 1, and the state police casino unit took over the investigation on June 7. 

Alleged victims of lottery millionaire sexual predator sue to tap into winnings 

Timothy Poole, the Mount Dora registered sexual predator turned millionaire lottery winner, is being sued by two alleged victims who say he owes them for pain, suffering and psychological damages. The two are brothers who were 5 and 9 years old at the time of the abuse in 1996, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Orange County Circuit Court. Their attorneys, Mark NeJame and Jason Recksiedler, are seeking a court order to freeze Poole’s newfound fortune until the proceedings are over because Poole may “squander, hide or otherwise dispose of assets,” according to the suit. Poole, 43, made international headlines after the Florida Lottery announced Dec. 9 that he claimed a $3 million prize from a Super Millions scratch-off game, which costs $20 per ticket. He took his winnings in a lump-sum payment of $2,219,807.90. Poole’s windfall sparked conversation as to whether the convicted felon should be able to keep the money. But there are no laws that would prevent Poole — who pleaded guilty to a 1999 charge of attempted sexual battery on a child younger than 12 and has been arrested a dozen times in Florida — from playing the lottery.

U.S. Treasury seeks to guard against illegal sports wagers

The U.S. Treasury Department’s anti-money laundering unit may soon ask casinos to be on the lookout for illegal sports wagers flowing into the U.S. financial system, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The goal is to stifle illegal sports bets that cause billions of dollars in funds, much of it with unknown origins, to move through the U.S. banking system, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Guidance from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is expected to highlight for casinos “red flags” signaling possible illicit sports betting activity so it can be reported to authorities. One example might be unusually large wagers, a sign that bets are being pooled, said one of the sources. The Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation division has been focused on the money laundering risks associated with illegal sports betting, both domestic and offshore.

Man blew stolen $1.7 million on escorts and gambling

Of the $1.7 million that Bexar Waste employee Michael Dennehy embezzled from the company, most of it went to escorts and gambling, he admitted Wednesday in federal court. His admission appears to have set the unofficial record in San Antonio held by defendants who spent ill-gotten gains on prostitutes or strippers, some observers have noted. Dennehy, 41, pleaded guilty to a single count of bank fraud, admitting that he forged numerous company checks over six years. Defense attorney Alan Brown said his client, who is married with five children, succumbed to urges he could not control. “He did spend it on gambling and on escort services, as the (feds) allege,” Brown said. “I think those are big addictions. He feels remorse and wants to make amends for it.” Confronted with forged checks and explicit images of his torrid encounters, Dennehy agreed to plead guilty before the FBI and federal prosecutors took his case to a grand jury for indictment, records show. He faces a maximum of 30 years in federal prison when Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra sentences him March 9.

7 More Arrested in ‘Mob-Tied’ Gambling Crackdown With Al Sharpton Connections

Seven more individuals were arrested Wednesday on gambling charges stemming from a series of raids in Rockland County, New York last Tuesday that already netted 14 others. The men were charged with promoting gambling, possession of gambling records, money laundering and other offenses The Journal News reports that the arrests come on the heels of an investigation spearheaded by the District Attorney’s Office Organized Crime Unit that led to a federal indictment in August of reputed Ramapo organized crime figure Daniel Pagano and a Suffern-based associate, Michael Palazzolo. The ring took bets on professional football, basketball, baseball and college sports, District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said following a 16-month investigation, which also netted individuals in both New Jersey and Florida. Those arrested included William Robbins, who has previously been convicted of illegal gambling. 

Massachusetts woman gets 18 months for stealing from in-laws

A Holden woman has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for stealing nearly $1 million from her elderly in-laws to feed her gambling habit. Chiao Fang Ku was also ordered Wednesday in federal court to pay full restitution, avoid any kind of gambling, and receive treatment. Prosecutors say the 46-year-old Ku, a mother of two teenagers, had already been losing large amounts of money gambling online when she was given control of her elderly in-laws’ finances in 2008. She forged checks, conducted online bank transfers and applied for and received credit cards in her former mother-in-law’s name. Prosecutors say she wiped out their life savings. The Telegram & Gazette reports that Ku said in court she had “betrayed” her family. 

Doctor’s office embezzler must repay $225,000

A former employee of a Lewiston medical practice was ordered Monday to repay $225,000 before her sentencing Feb. 6. Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas made the order in the case of Anne M. Fadel, 65, of Perry Court, Lewiston, who was office manager for Dr. Frank R. Laurri and Dr. Samuel R. Sirianni. She stole cash from the office’s bank deposits for at least 6 1/2 years, which prosecutors blamed on her “high living and gambling.” The restitution hearing began in late October with prosecutors demanding about $400,000 and the defense challenging that amount. Fadel pleaded guilty Sept. 24 to second-degree grand larceny, which under the law implies thefts totaling more than $50,000. 

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

Brief Look at Crime 12/15 – 12/21

Congressman’s son defending self in US fraud case

An indebted congressman’s son will defend himself against a 23-count indictment that involves bank fraud and a $930,000 federal contract, but he agreed to let public defenders stay on as stand-by counsel. Chaka “Chip” Fattah Jr., 32, of Philadelphia, told a judge Friday that he had strategic differences with his two court-appointed lawyers and wanted “to address the court in my own voice and make critical decisions.” The judge warned against the move, tallying the charges to show they could mean a sentence of more than 400 years in prison and $12 million in fines if Fattah is convicted. His father, Chaka Fattah, is a 10-term Democratic congressman from Philadelphia who has been the subject of an ongoing federal investigation. It’s not clear if the two probes are related. But father and son have suggested the probes are politically motivated. The indictment accuses the younger Fattah of using federal education contracts and bank loans for personal expenses, including large gambling debts.

Grand Marais Investment Adviser Sentenced to 60 Months in Prison

United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the sentencing of MICHAEL ROBERT DRILLING, 47, to 60 months in federal prison for devising and executing a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme. DRILLING pleaded guilty on April 17, 2014, to one count of securities fraud. He was sentenced on December 10, 2014, before Judge Ann D. Montgomery in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. In total, DRILLING stole more than $5.7 million in investment funds from thirteen of his clients. He lied to his clients, telling them that their money was placed in a larger pool of funds that could be managed more efficiently. Instead, DRILLING used the stolen funds for his own personal and business expenses. DRILLING also lost millions of dollars at casinos.

North Carolina Busts Alleged $20M Gambling Ring

Authorities in North Carolina say they have busted a $20-million gambling ring that stretched across the eastern part of the state, according to reporting from The raids began in May and now seizures have reached that massive sum, police said. Nearly 200 store and restaurant owners from more than 40 towns, including Raleigh, Rocky Mount and Roanoke Rapids, have been caught in the middle of the federal investigation and had their businesses raided by agents in the past several months.

Online Gambling Crime Doesn’t Pay

The old saying ‘crime doesn’t pay’ is a good one to describe the fallout from the Full Tilt Poker scandal that rocked the online gambling world not long ago. In some ways those involved and prosecuted for the fraud and unlawful internet betting got off lightly with stiff fines and forfeitures with short times in prison. Those who benefited from illegal online gambling in America are now safe from further penalties ordered by the courts and have little to show for their efforts after giving the government most of their ill gotten gains.

Ray Bitar pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and other charges and was sentenced to time served after he agreed to forfeit $40 million in cash and other assets. US District Judge Loretta A. Preska said that she would have given Bitar a big chunk of prison time if it weren’t for his poor health. Some critics claim this sentence is minimal and should have been stiffer for the fraudster. His medical conditions aside Bitar did have a significant stash set aside for a long a prosperous life which included funds from 18 different bank accounts in eight separate banks, including accounts in Scotland, Ireland, and Malta. Bitar also had four houses, commercial properties, and equity in 23 enterprises related to Full Tilt, as well as several unconnected companies.

Former employee of Mission district stole $116,000 from police exhibits 

A former District of Mission employee who stole $116,000 from police exhibits used the money to fuel her gambling addiction, a B.C. Supreme Court judge heard Monday. April Kirsten Smith, 46, pleaded guilty in July to a charge of breach of trust by a public officer. She is also charged with theft over $5,000 and, as a public servant, refusing to deliver property. Those two charges are expected to be stayed following sentencing. At the time she was hired, Smith was addicted to gambling, both online and at casinos. She even went to a casino on her lunch break. When she needed money, she took it from the cash exhibits. She later said in a police interview that she intended to pay the money back and didn’t see what she was doing as theft, instead rationalizing it as “borrowing.”

Taxi driver transported cocaine packages to pay for gambling addiction 

A taxi driver addicted to gambling narrowly avoided jail after being caught with a large haul of cocaine. Keith Milne, 56, and Garry Davidson, 25, were both charged after police recovered cocaine worth a total maximum street value of £285,000 from their cars. Milne, who worked as a self-employed taxi driver, had agreed to collect drug packages and keep them in his home after running up gambling debts of tens of thousands of pounds. But the father-of-two was caught when detectives acting on a tip-off carried out surveillance on both men and pulled them over in their cars after they had met one another on January 9 this year. Seven packages of the class A drug – worth a total of £250,000 – were recovered from Davidson’s vehicle when officers carried out a search of the former Grangemouth worker’s car. “He was also someone suffering from a very serious gambling addiction, he was addicted to gaming machines at bookmakers. “Gambling has always been a problem but it got worse as the years progressed.

Woman who stole $247K from TCAT was addicted to gambling

A TCAT employee accused of stealing nearly $250,000 from the local non-profit bus company was suffering from an out-of-control gambling addiction, her lawyer says in court records filed earlier this month. Pamela Johnson, 54, of Cortland, was arrested in April after embezzling roughly $247,000 from the public piggy bank, according to law enforcement. Johnson now plans on pleading guilty to grand larceny in the second degree, a felony, “in full satisfaction of all charges, with the sentencing left to this court,” her lawyer said in a motion filed Dec. 5. “We’re a not for profit; we’re heavily publicly subsidized; and we’re in need of funding for bus replacements, for our operations, for capital needs,” Poist said. “So it’s been painful. It’s been very painful for our staff.”

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

American Gaming Association Mysteriously Doubles Economic Estimates for Florida Gambling Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported that a newly established Florida Senate Gaming Committee issued a two year gambling study back in 2012. There was plenty of criticism about the company hired to do the study being too connected to the gambling industry. It was reported that the first part of the study, released during the summer of 2013, pointed to potential harm to Florida’s Turisim if additional full-scale Vegas style casinos were allowed. Then, the study’s results were stalledas the results were not as boisterous as the gambling industry had hoped. Now, the American Gaming Association is releasing information regarding Florida’s gambling expansion that is somehow double what was originally reported. A press release by No Casinos explains: 

No Casinos: Pro-Gambling Group Mysteriously Doubles Casino Jobs Claim in Less Than 80 Days

American Gaming Association changes its numbers to make industry look better


No Casinos made the following statement based on the re-release of the American Gaming Association’s economic impact numbers:

How many jobs do casinos create in Florida? The number apparently has more than doubled since Sept. 30, when the American Gaming Association released a national report on the economic impact of gambling.

That report claimed there were more than 3,200 casino jobs in Florida, with gambling revenues of $467.6 million. The AGA apparently has corrected itself, now claiming there are more than 7,400 Florida jobs “supported” by gambling, with a total economic impact of more than $1 billion.

“It appears that the first set of numbers wasn’t impressive enough so they cooked up another set,’’ said John Sowinski, President of No Casinos, Inc. “Maybe if they go back a third time, they’ll find the $500 million that South Florida casinos promised our schools every year. Nobody else has been able to find it.’’

The full press release can be read HERE. The SunSentinel Online also spoke with No Casinos and outlined additional information regarding the claim by the AGA and why the true impact to Florida from gambling expansion is not as its being portrayed:

John Sowinski, president of No Casinos Inc., says that the revenues generated don’t really have an effect on the state and that gambling is a “parasitic” business, meaning that the money spent on slots and casino restaurants would merely be spent elsewhere in the state — and the report doesn’t take into account the social costs of gambling.

“The slot revenues run the state of Florida for about 18 hours,” he says. “It is a blip on the screen, a rounding error.

“This is all to do about money that we’d spend anyway, and hopefully it’s discretionary spending, not money that Floridians need to pay their bills. That’s not really economic impact. It’s redistribution backward.”

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

Brief Look at Crime 12/08 – 12/14

Suspect fatally shot by police at Vegas resort

A casino robbery suspect was fatally shot by an officer Sunday inside a Las Vegas resort after police said he failed to comply with their commands. Police Capt. Matt McCarthy said the man sought in a string of local casino robberies had been under surveillance by undercover officers for a few days when he was shot at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. Detectives learned the suspect was staying at the Rio and tried to arrest him after confronting him about 5 a.m. McCarthy, in a video statement, said police first used a Taser but an officer shot him near the casino’s guest elevators when the suspect reached for his waist. A gun was found on the man, who died at the scene. No one else was injured.

Bookie claims Thomas Vanek had $10 million in gambling debts

A New York bookie claims Wild forward Thomas Vanek had over $10 million in gambling debts. A New York man pleaded guilty on Friday to illegal gambling, extortion and money laundering conspiracies that involved Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek. Bookie Joseph Ruff admitted in court that he extorted a $230,000 payment from Vanek to pay off gambling debts that the NHL forward had built up. Vanek’s name was not mentioned in court, but following the case Ruff’s attorney, Matthew Parrniello, told the Democrat and Chronicle that Vanek was the target of the extortion, while adding that Vanek “wasn’t very good” when it came to his wagers. According to Parrinello, Vanek actually owed upward of $10 million in gambling debts, a claim that Vanek’s agent, Steve Bartlett, told ESPN’s Craig Custance is “absolute fantasy” and a “complete fabrication.” The extortion charge came from Ruff’s admission that he lied to Vanek saying that Ruff would be hurt if he did not collect from Vanek.

Laguna Member Steals $778,632 from Pueblo

It was reported recently that the Pueblo of Laguna was victim to $778,632 in thievery from an ATM machine and safe at the Laguna Pit Stop. It was the result of a criminal act by one employee who is also a Laguna tribal member, 30-year-old Marshall Cheromiah. According to a report from KRQE News, Cheromiah stole nearly $800,000 in cash since the summer of 2013. The thefts were discovered as a result of concerns raised by the Accounting department and confirmed by video surveillance. Criminal charges have been filed against this individual by the Laguna Police Department and federal authorities, according to the Laguna Towncrier, expect to file additional charges. As time went on, Cheromiah spent significant amounts of the stolen cash, according to the sources. He bought more than 100 pairs of Air Jordan tennis shoes, and he gambled in a neighboring tribe’s casino. He also took a trip to Las Vegas, Nev., the sources said. He took 22 friends along with him, and they stayed at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino.

Man gets prison time for 180 pounds of pot on I-80

A New Mexico man caught on Interstate 80 near Lincoln with 180 pounds of marijuana in the back of his truck has been sentenced to one to three years in a Nebraska prison. Gabriel Maldonado, 32, pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to deliver for a stop Jan. 22, 2013, near Lincoln’s airport exit. Nebraska State Patrol Trooper Ryan Henrichs stopped Maldonado for failing to maintain his lane and found the bales of marijuana after Maldonado gave the OK to search. At sentencing Thursday, defense attorney Chad Wythers said Maldonado started hauling marijuana across the country as a result of a gambling problem.

Murdered refugee laundered millions at Aussie casinos

A former Vietnamese refugee shot dead on a Sydney street corner had laundered up to Aus$1 billion ($830 million) at Australian casinos as he cleaned up cash for criminal syndicates, reports said. Pete Tan Hoang, an orphan who arrived in Australia as a refugee but went on to become a citizen, was gunned down in a Sydney suburb in September. “We have certainly considered that he was involved in drug trafficking and moving money through casinos,” New South Wales police homicide squad commander Mick Willing told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, adding this could have led to his death. A former Vietnamese refugee shot dead on a Sydney street corner had laundered up to Aus$1 billion ($830 million) at Australian casinos as he cleaned up cash for criminal syndicates, reports say. Hoang, 36, is thought to have been a key money launderer in Australia, receiving millions in cash from criminal syndicates that he then laundered through gambling.

CPA charged with defrauding Rahway religious center

A California CPA who allegedly stole more than $4 million from a worship center in New Jersey is scheduled to have his initial New Jersey court appearance Dec. 8, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a news release. Donald Gridiron, 50, is charged by complaint with one count of wire fraud. He was arrested in California on Dec. 2 by FBI agents and released on bail after appearing in court there. According to the complaint, Agape Family Worship Center in Rahway hired Gridiron based, in part, on his connections with individuals in the religious community, as well as his standing within that community. The center agreed to pay Gridiron a monthly salary and reimburse him for reasonable expenses related to his work. Gridiron allegedly used his employment to obtain additional money from the center without authorization. He had the center’s bank accounts transfer more than $2.75 million to accounts he controlled and more than $1.5 million to an account associated with a foundation in which he was involved. Gridiron then used funds from his accounts for his own use, including payments on a mortgage for his residence, payments to a luxury car dealership, and withdrawals in furtherance of his gambling.

Former DHH employee sentenced for stealing more than $1 million from Medicaid program

District Court Judge Richard “Chip” Moore sentenced Deborah Crowder Loper on Friday to 10 years in prison, with five years suspended, for defrauding the state out of more than $1 million, announced Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. In addition to the prison sentence, Loper received five years of active supervised probation. She has also agreed to pay $1,018,424 in restitution to the State of Louisiana. Loper, 47, of 9642 Hardwood Drive, Baton Rouge, pleaded guilty in October to one count each of felony theft by fraud and malfeasance in office for intentionally using her position as an accountant for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to defraud the department by misappropriating public funds for personal use, largely to foot the bill for a gambling addiction. Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street commented, “This was a brazen theft of over a million dollars from the taxpayers, and cannot be tolerated. We will continue to work together with our partners in law enforcement and the oversight community to bring about criminal consequences wherever possible for those who abuse the public trust.”



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

Brief Look at Crime 12/01 – 12/07

Compulsive gambling linked to embezzlement

Gambling addiction often plays out in private, away from media coverage. When it does break into view, the reason often is embezzlement. Marquet International, a Boston investigative and consulting firm specializing in corporate fraud, conducts an annual study of major embezzlement cases nationwide. Last year, it analyzed 528 cases in 2012 and identified the primary motive in 132 cases. The second most common motive was gambling; the first “desire for a lavish lifestyle.” “Gambling continues to be a factor for many embezzlers,” the 2012 report said, adding, “All but two of the 37 gambling cases occurred in states where casinos and/or Indian gaming facilities are permitted. Marquet International concluded that Oklahoma is one of 15 states that have the “highest risk for major embezzlement,” with projected losses of $36 million in Oklahoma in the next five years.

Casino worker faces robbery charges

The employee who allegedly stole more than $130,000 at gunpoint from the BlueWater Resort & Casino faces charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and armed robbery, according to a criminal complaint. The federal charges – three counts of assault with a weapon and one count of armed robbery – were filed against Vladimir Quintana, 25, on Nov. 27, a day after he allegedly robbed the casino at gunpoint, fleeing with a duffel bag full of cash and leading local police in a car chase. Quintana allegedly entered the casino at around 3:45 a.m. on Wednesday morning, carrying an AR-15 assault rifle and wearing dark pants, a dark hooded sweatshirt and a mask covering his face, according to the complaint. He proceeded to the casino vault, where he forced two casino security officers to open the doors and a vault cashier to place cash into a duffle bag he brought with him. Police from the Colorado River Indian Tribes responded to the casino after the robbery. One of the officers spotted the suspect in a 2009 Chevrolet Silverado and attempted to stop him, but Quintana reportedly sped off and continued to accelerate as the officer pursued him. The police eventually stopped and detained Quintana.

Men charged in gambling bust to forfeit $20 million

Two men charged in connection to the biggest gambling ring bust in the state’s history were back in court Monday. Bob Mosley and his son-in-law Michael Caldwell faced a judge. It comes more than a year after a grand jury indicted them stating the two made almost $400 million running gambling houses across the nation. Agents seized truck-loads full of evidence from their Anderson and Greenville county homes and offices last fall. Investigators say the two men served as the bank and supplier to more than 600 gaming Internet cafes from coast to coast. Mosley pleaded guilty to separate felonies for himself and his company. He said his company laundered money while he owned and operated an illegal gambling business. Caldwell pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of transporting illegal gaming machines across state lines. Both men agreed to forfeit a total of $20 million.

Second guilty plea in $76-million gambling ring investigation

A man charged in connection with a multi-million dollar gambling ring has accepted a plea deal. Joe Ruff pleaded guilty to gambling, extortion, money laundering and conspiracy in federal court. His brother, Mark Ruff, previously admitted he helped launder money from a $230,000 check and plead guilty to money laundering, conspiracy and illegal gambling. News10NBC previously reported that $230,000 check came from the New York Islanders hockey club while Thomas Vankek played for them. Ruff faces 41 months in prison when sentenced on March 20, 2015.

Pokie addict rips off employer for $167,000

GAMBLING addiction drove a bookkeeper to rip off her Toowoomba employer for more than $167,000 over a six-month period. Dallas Maree Peterson, 32, had been hired by C&C Machining and Engineering from November, 2012, Toowoomba District Court was told. Her duties included paying supplier accounts, wages and other invoices and only she and the company’s financial controller had access to the internet banking account, Crown prosecutor David Jones said. However, just days after her departure an office manager had tried to order materials from various suppliers only to find the company’s credit had been stopped due to unpaid accounts. An audit of the company’s books was then conducted and found a number of discrepancies. The audit found a total 81 unauthorized transactions in which Peterson had transferred money into her bank accounts to the tune of $167,052.80. Transactions had ranged from small amounts to the largest single amount of $12,149.72. When found and spoken to by police in Gladstone in November, last year, Peterson admitted her offending, telling officers she had developed a gambling problem.

Pro Golfer Claims His Former Lawyer Stole $3 Million From Him To Help Pay Off Gambling Debts

A golfer is suing his former attorney and his law firm for allegedly stealing $3 million from him that was supposed to be an investment. Dustin Johnson’s former attorney, Nathan “Nat” Hardwick, has been accused of blowing the money on gambling debts, among other things. Actually, Hardwick allegedly misappropriated $30 million altogether, which he denies. The Globe and Mail reported that Johnson claims his former attorney and adviser for his foundation approached him this past summer about a loan to the Atlanta-based law firm of Morris Hardwick Schneider. Johnson said he was told the money was going to be for a “really good investment.”

Grandma Gambling Away Stolen $250k

An Auckland, New Zealand grandmother has been sentenced to one year home detention after stealing $200,000 from her employer to help support her gambling addiction. Lorena Marie Bailey, 58, was employed at Epicurean Dairy Ltd where she was accused of accessing a company computer to net $188,694. “She developed a severe gambling problem at the start of 2013 and it was of such a nature that it overtook every aspect of her life and simply was something she couldn’t control,” her lawyer Petrina Stokes said. The Court heard how Bailey had been disowned by her family and lost custody of her beloved granddaughter causing the defendant to act out of character.

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

Update: Florida Supreme Court Expands Gambling at certain Greyhound Tracks

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the shaky greyhound industry in Florida. The industry as a whole is struggling to stay in business and bad press and concerns over criminals running tracks and animals being mistreated has created a touch image for tracks and its clear they are on the verge of collapse.   A new ruling by the Florida Supreme Court may provide a temporary boost to some tracks in the form of card rooms. Given the scope is so narrow, allowing only two tracks this new gambling expansion ability, it may have little impact on the overall industry. The Panama City News Herald reports: 

Overturning a lower-court decision, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that at least two greyhound tracks can operate satellite card rooms without live racing.

Siding with the Palm Beach Kennel Club, the 5-1 opinion upheld the constitutionality of a law allowing jai alai permit holders to convert dormant, or unused, permits into greyhound permits if they meet certain conditions. The law also allows greyhound permit holders to open card rooms at satellite facilities without live racing, again if certain conditions are met. That combination would allow the Palm Beach dog track and the Daytona Beach Kennel Club to open satellite card rooms.

Time will tell how much expansion this will create in Florida. Once interpretation of the new ruling suggests that other facilities will, in fact, be able to benefit. The Panama City News Herald explains:

Under the law, a jai alai permit could be converted in a county in which the state “has issued only two pari-mutuel permits” and only if the jai alai permit had not previously been converted from another class of permit and jai alai games had not been performed there for at least 10 years.

But, in a 30-page opinion written by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, the majority agreed with attorney Barry Richard, who represented the Palm Beach greyhound track during oral arguments last year, that the lower court wrongly construed the words “only” and “has issued” when interpreting the statute. The different definitions would mean that “there is a reasonable possibility that (the law) could apply to 10 of the 11 jai alai permits in the state,” Labarga wrote.

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

Brief Look at Crime 11/24 – 11/30

High roller who gambled up to $9 million sentenced to five-and-a-half years for drug trafficking

A HIGH roller who turned over $9 million at Townsville’s casino has been jailed for five-and-a-half years for trafficking drugs to feed his gambling problem. Ronald Frederick Dix, 58, sold more than $200,000 of cannabis to 170 customers, in 1080 transactions between February and September 2013. In one occasion, police followed Dix out to Frosty Mango’s where they intercepted a drug deal, finding 2.28kg of cannabis in Dix’s car and $22,700 in the second vehicle he was meeting. A Townsville District Court heard Dix had a severe gambling addiction, and that all of his drug earnings went on games at Jupiters Casino. Dix will be eligible for parole on March 7 next year, after pleading guilty to drug trafficking and other charges of possession.

Judge says Tonkins trying to stall $845K embezzlement trial

Just nine days before their $845,000 embezzlement trial is set to begin, Nancy and William Tonkin drew the ire of a Lehigh County judge on Friday by complaining about their attorney and asking for a continuance. “Quite frankly, I see this as a stall factor,” Judge Robert L. Steinberg told the couple. “I am not pleased with this development.” The judge ordered the couple to return to court on their trial date, Dec. 1, along with two new lawyers. Attorney Dennis Charles had represented both Tonkins, but was granted permission to withdraw from the case after telling the judge that his relationship with the couple is now “irreparably broken.” Nancy A. Tonkin, 67, and William J. Tonkin IV, 70, of Little Lehigh Drive South in Emmaus, were charged with fraud last year following a grand jury investigation. Prosecutors say Nancy Tonkin, the former utility supervisor for South Whitehall Township, stole $845,000 in taxpayer money and, along with her husband, used the cash to finance a gambling habit.

French tennis official receives life ban for gambling and match-fixing

An obscure 22-year-old French tennis player and official, Morgan Lamri, has been banned for life for gambling and match-fixing. Lamri, unranked as a junior or Tour professional, played a handful of minor matches on the Futures circuit, the last recorded of them when he double-bagled as a wildcard entrant in a qualifier in Morocco two years ago. The Tennis Integrity Unit, based in London, on Monday cited only Lamri’s role as an “official” when announcing he had been “banned from the sport for life after being found guilty of multiple offences”. They would not say where or when the offences occurred. Their statement added, without details, that there were “16 separate breaches of Section D.1.a of the 2012 and 2013 Programmes”, which covers betting on any tennis competition. “Independent anti-corruption hearing officer Jane Mulcahy QC considered the case and imposed the sanction,” the statement added.

Former executive Andrew Sigalla to face trial for $8.7 million fraud

A FORMER high-flying executive accused of using $8.7 million of company funds to pay his gambling debts to high-profile bookmaker Tom Waterhouse and other loans has been ordered to stand trial. Andrew Sigalla, the former executive chairman of the sharemarket-listed technology company TZ Limited, declined to respond at a committal hearing in the Dowling Centre Local Court yesterday in relation to 24 embezzlement-related charges. The offences were allegedly uncovered after Sigalla was replaced as TZ chairman by Sydney home loan entrepreneur and Celebrity Apprentice TV host Mark Bouris. Mr Bouris, shortly after being appointed chairman by TZ’s largest creditor — the US hedge fund QVT — hired a forensic accountant to examine the company’s finances. The findings of that examination were then reported to the corporate regulator ASIC. Magistrate Lisa Stapleton said she was “satisfied as required” that there was sufficient evidence for a jury to hear the case. In one instance a $300,000 payment from TZ to one of ­Sigalla’s companies listed as a “capital raising fee” was then transferred to pay down a gambling debt to Mr ­Waterhouse, it is alleged.

Man gets 11 years for stealing $1M in copper wire

A northern Indiana man has been sentenced to 11 years in prison after he admitted to stealing $1 million worth of copper wire from a recreational vehicle plant where he worked. Jeffery Miller pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of stolen goods and money laundering. He was ordered to pay Heartland more than $1 million in restitution in monthly payments of at least $100 starting 30 days after his prison release. Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Schmid argued Miller deserved a longer sentence under federal sentencing guidelines because he had paid at least five other individuals to help him steal the copper spools, cut off the ends of the spools to hide their origins and take them to a Michigan scrap metal dealer to avoid Indiana’s tighter scrap yard regulations. Miller used the money to gamble at casinos to establish a documented source of the cash when he deposited it in the bank. He made sure the deposits did not exceed $10,000 each so it wouldn’t trigger banking rules requiring more documentation, Schmid said. Defense attorney Fred Hains described the theft as a desperate attempt to feed his gambling and methamphetamine addictions.

Spectator Shot Dead by Police in Raid on Cockfighting Match

Police shot dead a 25-year-old man at a cockfighting match in Tbong Khmum province Tuesday, in what they claimed was an accident during a raid on the illegal event. Chhay Oeun was among the spectators at the outdoor match in Memot district’s Chan Moul commune when district police raided the event and began firing warning shots to prevent people from fleeing, provincial police chief Mao Pov said. “[Police] did not intend to shoot and kill people,” Mr. Pov said. “They shot to warn people not to run away. They shot into the air and a bullet hit a tree and ricocheted and hit the man.” Mr. Darith said the illegal gambling ring had been operating in the commune for about a month, changing the location of fights to evade detection.

Carer Kerry Forrest given effective life sentence for killing elderly man to feed her gambling habit

Kerry Forrest was this year found guilty of murdering 84-year-old Bill Adamson by making him ingest a lethal dose of a morphine-based painkiller in a Sydney motel room in April 2010. The 54-year-old had been hired as Mr Adamson’s live-in carer less than a year earlier after his wife, Beryl, died. Within six months, Forrest helped him sell his home in Kareela, in Sydney’s south, leaving them with a profit of more than $300,000. She then began to squirrel the money into several of her bank accounts and spend the proceeds on poker machines in clubs across Sydney. Justice Hidden acknowledged that the minimum term was “well beyond her life expectancy” of six to 18 months, given she has incurable cervical cancer and a complex of other conditions. However, he said it was not in his power to consider an early release.

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