A Brief Look at Crime 05/02 – 05/08

Deadly Explosion and Fire Under Investigation

Explosions rumbled in the night sky, as fire ravaged a Grand Island business, leaving one man dead. Firefighters responded to Winfrey Plumbing around 10:45 Sunday night. Shift Commander Ed Carlin of the Grand Island Fire Department said, “There was one victim in the fire, deceased. His body was recovered overnight.” Officials have not released the man’s name, but Winfrey Plumbing founder Doyle Winfrey confirms to NTV it was his son Mike. Police have found several gambling machines, saying there was an illegal casino in the business along with drugs. If there is a connection, investigators are not saying. Fire officials tell us they were aware of that criminal history. The fact it was reported as an explosion raised questions. Carlin, the fire commander, described the scene, “It was an explosion and had rapid fire spread throughout the building. When we arrived, the whole thing was engulfed in flames. We were behind the eight ball the entire way.”

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Texas Man in $4.6M Fraud 

A federal grand jury in Dallas has indicted Wesley Michael Woodyard, believed to be most recently a resident of Dallas, on wire fraud and related charges stemming from his scheme to defraud Ace European Insurance Company (ACE) of more than $4.6 million from approximately 2002 through 2013, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas. Rather than follow normal procedures and instruct Roger Rich and Vanbreda to send funds directly to an insurance company (in this case, MetLife) to purchase the annuity contract for the named beneficiary, the indictment alleges that Woodyard told both Roger Rich and Vanbreda to send the funds directly to him, falsely representing to them that he would use all ACE funds to purchase the annuity policy on the open market. When Woodyard gained unlawful access and control to all ACE funds in this manner, Woodyard was also able to completely bypass the normal role of the insurance company (MetLife). When Woodyard unlawfully removed MetLife from the process, Woodyard also prevented MetLife from properly paying any commissions to the Ringler Insurance Agency. The indictment alleges that Woodyard used the majority of ACE funds for his own personal financial benefit, including paying for personal living expenses, gambling habits, travel expenses, and the purchase of four vehicles, including three Mercedes Benz and one Corvette, as alleged in Counts seven through ten of the indictment.

Father of accountant killed in City fall: online gambling drove my son to suicide

A young accountant who plunged to his death from an office building “died of shame” as his life was torn apart by an online gambling addiction, his father said today. Joshua Jones, 23, jumped from a ninth floor balcony after his debts mounted and saw no way of keeping up with the crippling loans he had taken out to feed his habit, an inquest heard. The graduate had won a job with PwC, one of the world’s most prestigious accountancy firms, but had a “double life” and was addicted to online betting, his father Martin told Southwark Coroners’ Court. The helpine for GamCare, which fields calls from people with gambling issues, reported that 46 per cent of callers in 2014/15 were concerned with online gambling. He died of shame. He took his life because of gambling. We miss him terribly.” Mr Jones explained how his son was a high achiever who was a talented hockey player and musician who won a place at Surrey University. But he blew his student loan on gambling and his parents took control of his money giving him “a drip feed” of cash to live off.

48 individuals indicted in bank fraud scheme at Atlantic City casinos

According to New Jersey Attorney General Robert Lougy, on Monday, the 48 individuals were indicted and charged with racketeering in connection with a scheme to fraud a bank. Allegedly, numerous defendants impersonated individuals that held legitimate business bank accounts in order to steal more than $570,000, withdrawing the majority of the money from Atlantic City casinos, as reported by the /Press of Atlantic City. Lougy said in a statement, that business accounts at JP Morgan Chase Bank were targeted by 48 individuals comprised mostly of New York residents, who allegedly stole the money from 27 business accounts at the bank in two schemes, which were carried out between February 2011 and August 2012. The investigation was initiated after bank investigators noticed that funds were being withdrawn by cash advances at Atlantic City casinos and wire transfer.

Joplin man waives hearing on $1.2 million deception of elderly woman 

A Joplin man accused of bilking almost $1.2 million out of an elderly woman from Vernon County and gambling it all away waived a preliminary hearing this week and was ordered bound over for trial. Eric S. Davis, 39, waived the hearing Thursday in Vernon County Circuit Court on a charge of financial exploitation of an elderly person. Associate Circuit Judge Neal Quitno set an initial appearance of the defendant in a trial division of the court for June 14. The alleged crime was uncovered in July 2014 during a guardianship hearing in Vernon County at which the woman testified that she sold all her stock in a major oil company and gave the cash to Davis, who needed it to get out of legal trouble that he told her he was facing in a court in Kansas City. Davis told the investigator that he was an avid gambler at a casino in Oklahoma and that he “may have gambled away” all the money he received from the woman, according to the affidavit.

Winnipeg woman accused of hiding dead babies spared jail in separate fraud case


A Winnipeg woman charged with hiding the remains of six infants in a storage locker will not serve any extra jail time for an unrelated fraud charge. Andrea Giesbrecht pleaded guilty in February to swindling Manitoba’s Employment and Income Assistance program of more than $5,000. She also admitted that she visited a casino despite a probation order prohibiting her from gambling. A judge handed her a 60-day jail sentence, but Giesbrecht was given full credit because of time already served in custody. Court heard that between December 2011 and May 2012, Giesbrecht received payments from the assistance program despite being married and receiving rent from a property she owned. Her lawyer said his client has a gambling addiction which has led to her losing more than $650,000.

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