A Brief Look at Crime 5/16 – 5/29

First he started gambling. Then he started to disappear. And then he was found dead.

Purna Gurung survived nearly two decades in a refugee camp before he arrived in Clarkston. Those who knew him thought he was bound to succeed. Then Purna started playing video gambling machines. And then he started to disappear. Within two years of his arrival he was found locked inside his apartment bathroom bleeding to death, a police report states. He had slit his wrists and neck and stabbed himself in the abdomen. His wife told investigators they were three months behind on rent and Purna had been out of work for six months. “I didn’t believe it,” his brother Mongal Gurung said. “He was my brother, and best friend, too.” “He wore clean clothes. He was well dressed. No one thought something was going on in his life,” Sharma said. But to Mongal, Purna seemed a little withdrawn. A mutual friend told Mongal about Purna’s gambling, and Mongal decided to confront him.“You need to slow down,” Mongal recalled telling him. “It’s not a place you need to be spending money.” Only after Purna’s suicide did others learn he had been leaving his wife alone with their new daughter to gamble, and they remained unaware of the purported depth of his financial troubles during a recent AJC interview. But visits to any gas station in Clarkston are a reminder of the power of the games. Gamblers stand at the terminals mesmerized.“They forget everything,” Mongal said. “They forget food to eat and water to drink.”

Heroin money laundered at casinos

A 31-year-old Felton man, Deangelo Mcglotten, is the “ringleader” of a large-scale heroin distribution effort that a two-year police investigation just broke apart, authorities said announcing the indictment of Mcglotten and 12 other people on drug, conspiracy, racketeering and money laundering charges. Police also said the investigation uncovered a money-laundering scheme that sent proceeds of illegal drug sales through casinos. A Georgetown businessman, Salman Choudhary, 37, was charged with involvement in organized crime, racketeering, money laundering, attempting to evade tax and failing to file tax returns. He was held on a bond of $1.7 million, the largest cash bond of any of the people indicted after what authorities called “Operation Duck Hunt. In all, police confiscated 1.75 kilograms of heroin during the investigation, with a street value of $1.2 million, Bratz said. On May 11, police arrested eight people, including Mcglotten, Choudhary, Felix and Coverdale.

Woman, who says she embezzled to pay for gambling, must pay $500K in restitution

An admitted problem gambler who paid for her addiction by embezzling funds belonging to the city of Oklahoma City was ordered Monday to pay nearly $500,000 in restitution. “The addiction was strong,” Renne M. Magerus told an Oklahoma City federal judge during the sentencing. “What were you thinking?” U.S. District Judge David L. Russell asked her at one point. “I wasn’t thinking,” Magerus replied, “(I was) covering up my gambling addiction.” Prosecutors alleged that while Magerus was employed as an accounting manager for Republic Parking System she embezzled nearly $420,000. Republic Parking System manages downtown parking garages and lots for the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority. The city of Oklahoma City created the authority, or COTPA, in 1966.

Securities fraudsters who stole from 100M people to be extradited

Two Israeli men accused of securities fraud and hacks into media outlets and nine financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase, Fidelity Investments and E*Trade Financial Corp., will be extradited to the U.S., according to Bloomberg. The extradition was approved by an Israeli court opening the path for Ziv Orenstein and Gery Shalon to face trial following their arrest in July at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice. The two men, along with a third non-Israeli, also face charges related to identity theft, unlawful internet gambling and money laundering that netted them hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hamburg bookkeeper sent to prison for stealing $260,000 from employer 

A bookkeeper from Hamburg who betrayed the trust of two employers by embezzling from them was sentenced Thursday to up to eight years in prison, but not before she was excoriated in Erie County Court by her victims’ family and the judge. “This was someone we regarded as not just an employee but a friend,” Jarrett Gilden said of Joan Joyce. Joyce, 57, worked for ECC Electrical Construction, a company Gilden’s father built, when she stole $263,135 to support her gambling addiction. She pleaded guilty in February to one count of second-degree grand larceny for the theft and five counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing for lying about her illicit income on her state income tax forms.

Vegan fugitives ‘finally caught’ for failing to pay employees, stealing $2M from investors 

The owner of a high-end vegan business and her husband who skipped town last year were indicted Thursday for leaving their employees out to dry and stealing from investors, then using $2 million to gamble and shop. Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis were arrested in Tennessee and will be brought back to New York to face charges on a 24-count indictment. Melngailis, 43, and Strangis, 35, allegedly failed to pay 84 workers of Pure Food & Wine and One Lucky Duck in Chelsea Market and Gramercy over $40,000 in wages, stole $844,000 from four investors, didn’t pay $400,000 in taxes and spent $2 million at Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun Casinos, luxury jewelry, trips to Europe and Uber rides.  January 2015, paychecks bounced, leaving 98 workers without pay. They refused to work, despite the owner’s urgings, and the business closed, prosecutors said. In addition, Melngailis and her corporations failed to remit the required state sales taxes from the beginning of 2014 through the demise of the business for a total of sales tax due of $409,987.56, according to the indictment.

Bus company involved in fatal Texas crash repeatedly failed safety checks 

The bus company involved in a crash that killed eight people and wounded 44 [on its way from San Juan to a casino in Kickapoo] Texas had been repeatedly rebuked in recent years for safety failings. OGA Charters, the company operating the coach involved in the crash yesterday morning, was caught violating safety codes for drivers and vehicles at least 15 times in the last two years. In the most serious incident, the company was ordered to sideline a bus in May 2015 due to faulty brakes, only for the same bus to be ordered off the road in August when the problem was not fixed. OGA Charters, the bus company involved in the fatal crash in Texas yesterday, had been repeatedly flagged for safety violations in the last two years including faulty brakes on its coaches.

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