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 wral.com. 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

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