A Brief Look at Crime 8/15-8/21

Suspects sought in Monday shooting that left 1 dead, 3 injured

Austin police on Wednesday released descriptions of a man and a woman they think carried out a fatal shooting Monday night at a suspected illegal gambling room in North Austin in which one woman died and three others were injured. Evidence from the shooting suggests the woman who was killed was the proprietor of a gaming room in the 900 block of Wagon Trail near Kramer Lane and Lamar Boulevard, according to police. On top of the homicide investigation, Austin police have also opened an organized crime investigation into the operations at the gaming room. Investigators executed a search warrant on the property this week, seizing evidence into the possible illegal gambling that took place there, Sgt. Kevin Covington said.




Most of client funds stolen by ex-Sandusky lawyer Karl Rominger reimbursed to victims  

Though the Carlisle attorney who pleaded guilty to bilking numerous clients to feed a gambling addiction won’t be sentenced until Thursday, more than $500,000 has already been reimbursed to his victims. That makes up most of the client funds that Karl Rominger, 43, was charged with misusing. The reimbursed funds have come from a state program that protects clients from such thefts. Rominger is set for sentencing at 9 a.m. Thursday in Cumberland County Court on one count of theft by deception and 18 counts of misappropriation of entrusted funds. Rominger was a prominent area attorney who took on many high-profile cases, including being part of the defense team in the Jerry Sandusky child-sex case.

Man leaves casino, robs bank, returns to casino, police say

Kerry Johnson told Charleston Police that he got to the Mardi Gras Casino in Nitro around 10 a.m. Tuesday and was there for more than six hours, until around 4:30 p.m. But sometime around 3 p.m., police say, Johnson got up from the blackjack table, put down a $25 chip to hold his spot, and left the casino. That’s when, police say, Johnson went to City National Bank in the South Hills neighborhood of Charleston, handed the tellers a note saying he had a bomb and a weapon, and robbed the bank. Then Johnson went back to the casino, got his spot back at the blackjack table, and kept gambling, police say. Johnson, 52, of Charleston, was arraigned Wednesday afternoon and charged with felony bank robbery. He faces 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted and is being held pending a $50,000 cash bond. “Reminds me of that song,” Kanawha Magistrate Ward Harshbarger told Johnson at the arraignment, chuckling. “What were you thinking?”

Ex-CEO gets prison after Vegas gambling binge

Federal prosecutors say the former president and chief executive officer of an Alabama steel company has been sentenced to six years in prison for gambling away money during his company’s bankruptcy case. The U.S. Department of Justice said 51-year-old Kennon Whaley had been convicted by a federal jury of two counts of concealment of bankruptcy assets. Prosecutors say the crimes happened when his company, Montgomery-based Southeastern Stud & Components, was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Prosecutors say evidence at his trial showed that during the bankruptcy process, Whaley redirected a $260,000 insurance payment intended for the company in 2010 to pay off a personal gambling debt. They say that in 2010, Whaley had traveled to the Wynn Las Vegas Casino, racking up a $100,000 gambling debt during a four-day trip. 

Reputed Mobster ‘Skinny Joe’ Due in Court Friday After Massive Sweep 

The flamboyant alleged head of the Philadelphia mob is scheduled to be in a Florida court Friday to determine whether he should be held without bond and sent to New York City to face racketeering charges. Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino, 54, is scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate judge in West Palm Beach on charges that he was part of a health care fraud scheme in which conspirators got corrupt doctors to bill insurers for unnecessary and excessive prescriptions for expensive compound creams in exchange for kickbacks.members of an East Coast crime syndicate who were charged last week with racketeering and various crimes including extortion, loansharking, casino-style gambling, sports gambling, credit card fraud and health care fraud. Federal prosecutors say the syndicate operated in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Jersey. Merlino served nearly 12 years in prison for racketeering before being released in 2011. He went back to prison in 2014 for three months for violating his parole by socializing with Philadelphia mobster John “Johnny Chang” Ciancaglini at a Florida cigar bar.

2 shot to death outside North Las Vegas casino 

Police in North Las Vegas are investigating a shooting that left two people dead outside the Silver Nugget casino. Officers had responded to reports of a shooting in the casino parking lot early Sunday to find two men suffering from gunshot wounds. The victims died at the scene. Police have not yet released details on what led to the shooting. No arrests have been made. The incident comes after an officer fatally shot a Silver Nugget security guard after the guard beat a fellow casino employee to death in May.

British Tennis Player May Have Been Poisoned by Gambling Syndicate 

A British tennis player who fell ill in the lead-up to her quarter final match at the Wimbledon Girls’ Singles Tennis Championships last month may have been deliberately poisoned. Gabriella Taylor, 18, who is ranked 381 in the world, was struck down by a mysterious and ultimately life-threatening illness just 45 minutes into her match against the USA’s Kayla Day. Taylor spent four days in intensive care, before doctors diagnosed a rare strain of Leptospirosis, a disease most commonly transmitted through rat urine. The bacteria is so rare in the UK, in fact, that police are treating it as highly suspicious and have launched a criminal investigation. One theory they’re investigating is that Taylor was poisoned by a gambling syndicate in a deliberate attempt to sabotage the match; another is that the culprit is a rival player or coach. “What happened to Gabriella has opened our eyes to a world we did not know existed,” said her mother. “In the past we have been very naïve, but from now on we will be extra careful and make sure we know exactly what she eats and drinks when she is on the tour.” Gambling syndicates have been known to sabotage sporting events in the past, perhaps most notably in 1997 when an Asian betting syndicate cut the power to the floodlights at two high profile English Premier League soccer games.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

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