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.”



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