Eight people have been arrested on racketeering and other charges in a major South Florida gambling operation that authorities say has connections to organized crime. The Broward Sheriff’s Office says the recent arrests resulted from a six-month undercover operation. Investigators also seized $1.2 million in cash. Authorities say the group was involved in offshore sports betting as well as bookmaking in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Those arrested also apparently have ties to organized crime families in New York and Boston. Charges include racketeering, money laundering, bookmaking and several conspiracy charges. Investigators say wiretaps and surveillance provided key evidence, as well as undercover officers who were able to penetrate the organization.
A former Cambridge University finance officer is facing a 10 year prison sentence after stealing £300,000 from under the nose of an ex-MI6 chief. Jacqueline Balaam falsified invoices during her employment at Pembroke College, of which Sir Richard Dearlove is the Master, between June 2012 and January 2014. The 41-year-old from Fallowfield in Cambridge was found guilty of three counts of fraud by Cambridge Crown Court on Monday. Delia Matthews, a prosecutor at an earlier hearing, declared that Balaam’s fraudulent actions were “all down to her gambling addiction.”
The former police chief of Greensburg, Indiana, faces charges after investigators say she stole thousands of dollars initially seized in criminal cases. Investigators say Stacey Chasteen gambled the money away, and told her husband, who is the fire chief of Greensburg, that she wanted to replace the money. She never did. The police report said Chasteen first started stealing money from criminal cases in 2006, including more than $72,000 from a case involving an Asian massage parlor. The crime began to unravel in December when the department first noticed money might be missing from the property room. Investigators said Chasteen then approached her husband for help. They borrowed $57,000 from family members. Instead of using the money to replace what had been taken from the property room, authorities said Chasteen gambled it away again.
Michelle Anne Bellizia, 46, will spend her first night behind bars tonight after pleading guilty to ripping off $269,000 from Kilmore Equine Clinic between May 2012 and September 2013. The mother of three also pleaded guilty to stealing $40,222 from a company she quit just weeks before taking on the bookkeeping job at the clinic. The County Court heard Bellizia befriended the accounts manager at the vet clinic in order to gain her trust and even took her son on outings. “She is an evil, manipulative person … who shows no remorse for what she has done,” the woman stated in her victim impact statement. The court heard Bellizia spent her ill-gotten gains on $1000-a night hotel rooms at Crown casino and plowing cash into poker machines.
The Montgomery County man who ran a nationwide sports gambling organization and hid the cash in his backyard in Abington was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison on Tuesday, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office. Joseph Vito Mastronardo Jr., 64, of Abington, will serve his sentence in a medical facility for what previous reports indicate is an ongoing battle with cancer. He will also have to pay a $100,000 fine, forfeit $3.7 million and be under court-supervised supervision for three years after he is released. The sentence follows his guilty plea on Jan. 31, 2014, for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise, conducting an illegal gambling business, conducting four conspiracies to launder money, interstate travel in aid of racketeering, transmitting wagering information and aggravated structuring of cash deposits.
The takeaway from the nine-month investigation was that Kha and Nguyen were running an illegal gambling operation. The case was bolstered when police made their January 14 sweep and carried away 169 video gambling machines and 111 detached motherboards from video gambling machines. A subsequent analysis of 37 of the machines indicated that, between August 1, 2014, and the January 14 raid, those 37 machines reported $2.8 million in wagers and $1.7 million in payouts for a net profit of $1.1 million. Many of the machines were purchased from Lone Star Slots on Interstate 35 in Lancaster, which sells new and used gambling equipment after making purchasers swear they will use it exclusively for home entertainment purposes, which is legal in Texas. Police recovered about half that amount, seizing stockpiles of cash found at Kha’s home ($146,528) and at a couple of local banks ($524,800). They also seized 56 gold bars which, at 37.5 grams each, have a current value of around $91,000, both the Mercedes and the Nissan Frontier, and a few dozen pieces of jewelry, presumably including the $12,628 Rolex Kha bought in 2013.
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