A Brief Look at Crime 04/04 – 04/10

Warden, wife took $132K to pay Moose club gambling debts

The state attorney general says a Pennsylvania county jail warden and his wife stole $132,000 from a Moose lodge, largely to cover losses they incurred gambling at the club. Crawford County Warden Timothy Lewis and his wife, Debra, were arraigned Thursday on theft-related charges. They were officers of the Moose lodge in East Fairfield Township when they allegedly took the money between May 2011 and October 2014. Investigators say club records showed the couple lost more than $64,000 playing unspecified “small games of chance,” which social clubs in Pennsylvania can offer to raise money. Among other things, Lewis allegedly rigged a raffle in which he won $2,000.

Compulsive gambling brings shame, prison, death

Compulsive gambling has led to the social and financial ruin of many otherwise longstanding pillars of society since the casino boats arrived in the Quad-Cities in 1991. Among them, Marilyn Davis, who served 40 years as Sherrard’s village clerk before she was sent to prison at the age of 74 for embezzling approximately $282,000 from village coffers. The prime motive, authorities said, was to finance trips to the casinos. In 2007, a Davenport woman was convicted of child endangerment after leaving her young son home alone while she gambled at a riverboat casino. In June of that year, a 76-year-old man was convicted of trying to bludgeon to death his 81-year-old neighbor during a fight that started, prosecutors said, when the woman refused to give him money for gambling at Scott County casinos. There have been other examples: Dig deep enough in about any local embezzlement case over the last 25 years, and you’ll find some stolen money ended up in the pockets of casino operators. Once-honest bookkeepers and treasurers at businesses, churches and social-service agencies all have fallen victim to the allure of a turning card or the spin of slot-machine symbols.

Cumberland County probe of gambling cafes uncovers possible terrorist ties

The Internet gambling cafes that had operated with impunity in strip shopping centers throughout Cumberland County are all closed now. A state Supreme Court decision in December 2012 took care of most of them when it declared Internet sweepstakes gambling illegal. Butler found himself up against formidable opposition. Lobbyists for the gaming industry argued that Internet gambling was little different than playing legalized bingo or the N.C. Education Lottery. They said that, collectively, the cafes employed thousands of people and provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to the local municipalities they operated in. No one, they argued, was being hurt by them. Butler saw it far differently. In his eyes, the cafes were an eyesore that fed off the poor and people addicted to gambling. Mitchell said, that deputies discovered sweepstakes’ money was going overseas. The deputies had executed a search warrant at a house near an illegal gambling establishment off Yadkin Road when they uncovered documents indicating that money from the operation was being sent to Yemen, Mitchell said. He said that case and others with ties to foreign countries are being investigated by federal agents with the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division and the Internal Revenue Service. Mitchell said the discovery that money was going overseas is especially frightening, given the amount of money being made by the gambling rings.

Palm Harbor con man sentenced to 35 years in prison

It’s judgment day for convicted con man Robert Fletcher. After years of lying, cheating and tricking victims out of their money with his fraudulent investment schemes, Fletcher was sentenced on Friday to 35 years in prison with 30 years of probation. He’ll be 112 years old by the time he finishes that sentence. Fletcher must also pay more than $376,000 in restitution to his victims. Fletcher told the judge a gambling addiction drove him to victimize his own family, friends and strangers alike without any remorse until now. Fletcher claims he’s found a new relationship with God and will dedicate himself to paying back his victims if given the opportunity. Judge Andrews said he doesn’t believe Fletcher has found God, or stopped lying, or has a gambling addiction and told him “I don’t know who you are.”

Sioux Falls record company owner pleads guilty to fraud

The owner of a Sioux Falls-based record company has admitted to gambling away more than $1 million in investment money. Madhouse Entertainment founder Michael Zimmer was arrested in January on eight counts of federal wire fraud. The Argus Leader reports that he pleaded guilty to one count on Monday. Zimmer was accused of asking people to invest in his company to promote rap concerts. Authorities allege the concerts never happened, and Zimmer used most of the money for gambling trips to Las Vegas; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Larchwood, Iowa. Zimmer was accused of stealing more than $1.1 million from investors beginning in July 2014. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison during his sentencing June 27.

Accountant Who Stole $4M From Religious Center Gets Prison 

A California certified public accountant who stole more than $4 million from a religious center in New Jersey has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison. Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that Donald Gridiron must also pay about $5.1 million in restitution. The 51-year-old Pomona man had pleaded guilty in September to wire fraud and filing a false tax return. Prosecutors say Gridiron used his job with the worship center in Rahway and his status with a California nonprofit to illegally syphon money without their consent. They say he transferred more than $4 million overall to accounts he controlled. Gridiron used the funds for personal expenses, including mortgage payments, luxury car payments and gambling. He also failed to report the income on his tax returns.

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