A Brief Look at Crime 6/20-6/26

Poplar Bluff man sentenced to life in prison for murder of St. Louis hotel night manager

A man convicted of robbing the night manager of a St. Louis hotel of $97 and killing him was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole, plus 40 years. Joseph Bowens, 45, of Poplar Bluff, Mo., was found guilty in April of first-degree murder and robbery in the death of Scott Knopfel, 50, of St. Louis, during a robbery. The jury also found him guilty on two counts of armed criminal action. Life without parole is the mandatory sentence for a first-degree murder conviction if prosecutors elect not to seek the death penalty. Circuit Judge David Dowd accepted Assistant Circuit Attorney Mary Pat Carl’s recommendation to add 40 years to the sentence for what he described as a “brutal” and “senseless” crime. Carl said Tuesday that Bowens had been at the Lumière Place casino downtown before coming to the hotel but authorities don’t know if he lost money there or if that could have factored into his decision to rob the Drury Inn. Bowens had been convicted in drug, robbery, assault, DWI and gun cases. Court and prison records showed he had repeatedly violated the terms of his probation or parole. Knopfel was a lifelong resident of south St. Louis and graduated from Southwest High School in 1983. He worked as a ticket agent for TWA before joining the Drury Inn about three years before his death, according to his younger brother, Michael Knopfel. “He was a champion for the city of St. Louis,” Michael Knopfel said in court Tuesday. “He was the kind of guy this city needs. He was all about St. Louis.”

Andrew Caspersen, Charged in $40 Million Fraud, Had Gambling Addiction, Lawyer Says

Federal prosecutors claim that Andrew Caspersen ran a Ponzi-like scheme  to defraud friends, family and a hedge fund foundation of nearly $40 million over an 18-month period. But on Tuesday, Mr. Caspersen’s lawyer contended that his client, a former Wall Street executive with an Ivy League pedigree, was the victim of an uncontrollable gambling addiction that drove him for more than a decade. So gripping was Mr. Caspersen’s addiction, the lawyer said, that he checked his phone throughout the day for updates on the stock market’s direction and his “all in” bearish bets that ran into tens of millions of dollars. Dressed in a black suit and pink tie at his arraignment in a Manhattan federal courtroom Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Caspersen, 39, told a judge that he had been treated for “compulsive gambling and mental health illness” issues since his arrest in March.

IRS report says Central Iowa casino owes up to $60M 

An IRS report says that a central Iowa casino owes up to $60 million in back taxes and penalties. The Des Moines Register reports that Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino’s board of directors released a 93-page IRS report Wednesday that threatens to revoke its tax exempt-status and a letter protesting federal agency’s actions. Prairie Meadows has operated as a tax-exempt nonprofit since 1989. Casino officials learned about the IRS’ plans to take away its tax-exempt status May 12, following a year-and-a-half investigation. The IRS audit found that Prairie Meadows is operating more like a business than “exclusively for social welfare purposes” and that it lacks Polk County oversight. The appeal outlines the ways the casino “continues to be a valid social welfare organization.”

Ex-JPMorgan Advisor Must Pay $27 Million Restitution

Former JPMorgan advisor *Michael Oppenheim* has been ordered to pay $27 million in restitution for clients’ money that he gambled away, Law360.com writes. The fine is in addition to a five-year prison sentence and three years of supervised release Oppenheim received earlier this year, according to the legal news website. In November, Oppenheim pled guilty to stealing more than $20 million from 10 of his largest clients, as reported previously. He had originally pleaded to a sentence of up to 10 years in prison but U.S. District Judge *Analisa Torres* cited his gambling addiction and his care for a disabled daughter as reasons for a reduced sentence announced in March, according to Bloomberg. Oppenheim, who at one point managed close to $90 million for around 500 clients at JPMorgan, had been wagering on football games as far back as 1993 and began stealing from his brokerage clients after losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the newswire writes.

Three Men Shot at Underground Cockfighting Ring Near Mexican Border 

Three men are recovering from bullet wounds sustained during a shooting at an underground cockfighting ring near the Texas border with Mexico.The shooting took place Friday night at a rural home in the northeastern part of Hidalgo County near the city known as Edcouch, information provided to Breitbart Texas by the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s office revealed. Authorities began to look into the case when they received notification about three shooting victims at three separate local hospitals.Sheriff’s investigators were able to learn that the three men had all been shot at a home near Edcouch. Authorities obtained a search warrant from a local state judge before going to the property. The house served as a cover for a large cockfighting arena.Because the investigation in still in the early stages, as of Saturday night, investigators were not able to release additional details about the case. Cockfighting refers to the practice of tying blades to the spurs of roosters in order to fight them to the death. Onlookers gamble on who will be the winner. The practice is outlawed in Texas. Even being a spectator could result in a fine or charges. In Mexico, on the other hand, the practice is common and still very popular.

‘Iconic figure’ in Lonsdale community also an ex-con who ran a $20M gambling operation

A 72-year-old grandfather considered by many in the Lonsdale community to be a leader and benefactor, McDowell is also an ex-con who kept a gun in his liquor store to protect the $20 million gambling operation he helped run, as well as an apparent cocaine user. Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan openly struggled with the contradictory portraits of McDowell as he considered McDowell’s punishment as one of three men — the other two were McDowell’s son and Knoxville fashion designer Marcus Hall — who for at least six years ran a numbers racket known as “butter and eggs” in the Lonsdale community. He said McDowell was an “iconic figure” in Lonsdale, who mentored children and young black men and helped organize the community’s annual homecoming festivities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Marie Svolto noted McDowell was convicted in 1981 on a federal charge of selling cocaine and tested positive for the drug after being charged in the gambling case. He was barred from possessing a gun as a result, but the IRS Criminal Investigation Division seized three guns from him — one at the liquor store and two at his home. McDowell told Varlan he was “not a violent person” and said he was lured into the gambling venture after a divorce and bankruptcy.

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