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. 

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