Brief Look at Crime 04/13 – 04/19

South Whitehall $845K embezzlement trial halted by plea deal

Court officials on Monday confirmed that Nancy Tonkin, South Whitehall’s longtime utility manager, and her husband, will plead guilty this week in an $845,000 embezzlement scheme. Prosecutors say Nancy Tonkin stole $845,000 in taxpayer money and, along with her husband, used the cash to finance a gambling habit. Investigators say the money was stolen through a “lapping” scheme, where Nancy Tonkin pocketed payments from township residents who used cash to pay for their water, sewer, trash and recycling bills, and then used payments from other residents to cover the losses. She and her husband then deposited the cash into their personal bank accounts, prosecutors allege. They lost more than $116,000 in slot machines alone, according to the grand jury, and withdrew $20,000 from casino cash machines from 2009 to 2012.

Hillsdale man gets 2 life terms for robberies to fund gambling addiction

A 39-year-old Hillsdale man who already faced 70 years in prison for a string of robberies in St. Louis County has been sentenced to two life terms for robberies in another county. Authorities say Darrell Bolden committed the robberies to support a gambling habit. He was arrested after an attempted robbery at a St. Louis County mattress store. An employee was able to remove Bolden’s mask before he fled. DNA from the mask later connected Bolden to the crime, and he confessed to police. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Bolden was convicted last month in two St. Charles County robberies. A judge sentenced him Monday to the life terms, as well as 25 years each for two counts of armed criminal action. The sentences will run consecutively.

Man gets 5 years in prison for embezzling almost $2 million

A man has been sentenced to just over five years in prison after admitting in federal court in San Antonio to spending most of the almost $2 million embezzled from his employer on strippers, luxury vehicles and gambling. Prosecutors say 41-year-old Michael Dennehy was sentenced Monday to five years and three months in prison. He was also ordered to pay restitution of about $1.9 million to his employer. He pleaded guilty Dec. 17 to a single count of bank fraud, admitting he forged numerous company checks over six years. Court records show he wrote checks to himself and deposited them in his personal banking accounts. He also wrote company checks to pay his credit card bill.

SC brothers sentenced in killing of relative over gambling dispute 

Two Rock Hill brothers — including one with 12 children — were sentenced to prison time Tuesday for killing a cousin after a gambling dispute. Johnny Lee Ellison, 34, a longtime worker at Southern Salads, was shot and stabbed on Green Street in Rock Hill in September 2013 after a night of drinking and gambling. Ellison and his cousins, David and Jaris Williams, argued at some point after which Ellison was shot and then stabbed by the brothers. David Williams, 34, who said in court he has 12 children “from 16 to 2,” pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 14 years in prison by visiting Judge DeAndrea Benjamin. David Williams currently is on federal probation for other crimes.

Kansas City Man Pleads Guilty to $4 Million Illegal Gambling Operation 

A Kansas City, MO, man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to operating an illegal gambling business that generated nearly $4 million in bets placed during its final year of operation.By pleading guilty, Pham admitted that he operated an illegal gambling business from at least 2008 to February 2012. Pham used Costa Rican Web sites to run his bookmaking operation. The gross revenue of Pham’s illegal gambling business exceeded $2,000 per day on multiple days during the operation of the business. Evidence obtained during the course of the investigation indicated that, in approximately a one-year period from Jan. 1, 2011, to Feb. 9, 2012, bets totaling $3,788,635 were placed in Hoang Pham’s operation.

Addiction to scratch-off tickets plagued suspect in fatal gas station robbery

Relatives say an overwhelming addiction drove Robert McGrane to grab a gun, rob a gas station and kill a clerk. The addiction? Not booze. Not drugs. Lottery tickets. To be specific, scratch-offs. Over the past two years, the 48-year-old had been spending as much as $600 a week on instant lottery tickets, relatives say. “It was an addiction,” says father Jack McGrane, 68, of Cazenovia. “He started doing it, and it just snowballed.” “He had a problem with scratch-offs,” Allen says. “But you just don’t win with lottery tickets.” He pauses, then shakes his head, pondering the robbery and murder. “We just don’t understand what happened,” Allen says.

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