Brief Look at Crime 07/13 – 07/19

Vaughan café where two slain was scene of illegal gambling operation 

An illegal gaming operation was being run out of the back of the Vaughan café where two people were fatally shot and two others were injured two weeks ago, police say. It’s still unclear whether the gambling operation was linked to the murders of Maria Voci, 47, a Vaughan mother-of-three and Christopher DeSimone, 24, of Vaughan, according to police. The two others who were shot at 8:18 a.m. on June 24 at the café in a strip mall at Islington Ave. and Highway 7 have been released from hospital, police said on Wednesday. One of the injured men was Rocco Di Paola a candidate in last fall’s mayoral election in Toronto. Police earlier said this was a targeted attack. Gaming tables, boxes of playing cards and gaming machines were discovered in the back of the small café, Const. Laura Nicolle of York Regional Police said.

Dice Games Linked to Recent Spate of Shootings, Sources Say 

A spate of shootings have been tied to arguments over high-stakes dice games, DNAinfo New York has learned. At least four shootings — including one murder — have occurred in the past two weeks that stem from guys throwing dice for dough on street corners, sources told “On The Inside.” The latest shooting happened on Independence Day on E. 108th Street near Flatland and Glenwood avenues in Brooklyn when a 28-year-old man who had just left a dice game at 2 a.m. was suddenly confronted by two other players who opened fire, sources said. The wounded dice player was hit in the leg and taken to a nearby hospital. Witnesses told police there had been a fight at the game before the shooting occurred. “There can be a lot of money at these games and people get angry,” a top law enforcement source said, adding that he believed there were six to eight shootings recently involving dice games.

Former Centra Health Credit Union manager sentenced in embezzlement scheme 

A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a former manager of Centra Health Credit Union to six years and six months in prison for embezzling nearly $2 million. Claudia Rawes, 67, of Forest, pleaded guilty in February to stealing the funds from the credit union over a period of years. She told authorities she did it to support her gambling addiction. At a hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Lynchburg, Rawes fought back tears as she described considering suicide after the scheme was uncovered. She initially lied to investigators but later admitted her actions, federal prosecutors said. Rawes said she hit “rock bottom” because of her addiction, which she called a terrible illness, and expressed remorse. “I didn’t mean to hurt anybody,” said Rawes. “I really thought I could win it back.”

Hacker Attacks Gambling Websites, Demands Bitcoin Ransom

A hacker shut down four New Jersey Internet gambling sites for half an hour last week and threatened more cyberattacks over the holiday weekend unless a ransom was paid using the online currency Bitcoin, authorities said Tuesday. David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Gaming Enforcement Division, said Thursday’s attack was a so-called distributed denial of service attack, in which websites were flooded with information and requests for access that rendered them inoperative. “The attack was followed by the threat of a more powerful and sustained attack to be initiated 24 hours later unless a Bitcoin ransom was paid,” Rebuck said. “This follow-up attack had the potential to not only negatively impact the targeted casinos, but also all business in Atlantic City” that share the same Internet service provider.

Kingpin of West Shore-based gambling ring gets federal prison term 

As his wife wept loudly, the kingpin of a wide-ranging West Shore-based gambling ring was sentenced Wednesday to 14 months in federal prison. The sentencing by U.S. Middle District Senior Judge William W. Caldwell marked the fourth time Steven Sheely Sr., 60, of Camp Hill, was convicted of illegal bookmaking and the first time he ended up behind bars. Caldwell slapped Sheely with the prison sentence after Assistant U.S. Attorney William A. Behe asked for an 18-month jail term. Defense attorney Jerry Russo sought a work-release sentence, or even a probation term, citing Sheely’s need to care for his ailing wife and the fact that the criminal case has “devastated” Sheely financially. The government already has seized more than $800,000 and a 2012 Cadillac Escalade from Sheely, leaving his client with only his house and a “small” bank account, Russo said.

3 Indicted in Las Vegas in $1.5B Investment Fraud Case

Authorities in the U.S. are seeking the arrest of the chief executive of a Las Vegas investment company and two of his former Asia-based executives on an indictment alleging they headed a $1.5 billion Ponzi-style fraud scheme, officials announced Wednesday. Edwin Fujinaga of Las Vegas, and Junzo Suzuki and Paul Suzuki, both of Tokyo, were each indicted on eight counts of mail fraud and nine counts of wire fraud in a scheme that prosecutors and the FBI said operated through Las Vegas-based MRI International Inc. Thousands of unsuspecting Japanese investors were victimized, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said.

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