A Brief Look at Crime 8/22 – 8/28

Man killed in East Austin Gambling Related Shooting 

A man was shot to death early Sunday morning at an East Austin apartment complex, and the search for his killer continued into the evening. Austin police officers responded about 2:25 a.m. Sunday to a report of shots fired at the Harvard Place Apartments at 51st Street and Manor Road. They found a man, believed to be in his 30s, with multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he was pronounced dead. Police would not release the man’s name Sunday, but 14-year-old Clarissa Tejada, speaking for her family, identified him as her sister’s husband, Efrain Rodriguez. This was the third fatal shooting in Austin in a week. One man was dead and another was hospitalized Thursday night after a shooting in the 1800 block of Elmira Road in East Austin. On the night of Aug. 8, a woman was killed and three other people were injured in a shooting at a suspected illegal gambling room in North Austin.

Las Vegas Man Arrested in Death of Estranged Wife

Police arrested a Filipino man on Tuesday, August 9, for allegedly killing his estranged wife. The Metropolitan Police Criminal Apprehension Team arrested Arthur Lopez, 55, on Tuesday, August 9, and took him to the Clark County Detention Center, where he faces a charge of murder with a deadly weapon. An arrest report stated that Lopez killed his wife, Erlinda Penaflor, 78, in a home where she had rented a room after separating from Lopez whom she had described as verbally abusive. She had recently filed for divorce. Lopez is reportedly addicted to gambling and drugs and stole property. He moved to Arizona for a job but often returned to Las Vegas, according to an arrest report.

Affidavit: Dice game turns deadly during apparent robbery last week

Police have arrested the suspect in a fatal shooting during an apparent robbery last week that left one man dead and another wounded. Marvin Gettrelle Henson, 44, faces a murder charge in the death of Ashton Dominick Collins, court documents say. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Collins and Henson were gambling at a home in the 1800 block of Elmira Road on Aug. 11. Collins sent two women who had accompanied him to the home to go buy drinks around 9:30 p.m. while the rest of the group continued to shoot dice. When the women returned, three men wielding handguns rushed into the home behind them, the document said. The document said one of the men held two witnesses at gunpoint near the entrance of the home while the two others ran to a part of the house where Collins and Henson were gambling. A struggle ensued when the gunmen entered the room, and several shots were fired. The homeowner’s nephew was wounded, according to the affidavit. One of the women told police that she ran to the room behind the gunmen and saw Collins and Henson tussling over a gun, then saw Henson open fire, striking Collins several times.

Canberra man who stole mum’s cash after killing stepfather ‘extremely callous’

A Canberra man who murdered his stepfather in Wanniassa before he stole $53,000 from his bedridden mother had been “callous in the extreme”, a court has been told. Jeffrey David Lee bashed Neal Keith Wilkinson, 61, after the pair got into an argument at the front door to the McWhae Circuit house on the evening of March 10 last year. Police found Mr Wilkinson’s body face down near the front door and arrested Lee, 47, at the next day. Court documents said Lee fled the house after the fight but later went back and took the cash from a pillowcase at the home. He went into his mother’s darkened room while she was asleep and later told her: “Neal’s dead, I killed him.” Lee left again soon after. A neighbour heard his mother’s cries for help later that evening and called police.

Orange man sentenced for $1.4 million embezzlement 

An Orange man was sentenced to 10 years in prison this week for embezzling $1.4 million from his employer while awaiting sentencing in a $2.7 million embezzlement case. Peter Suk Lee, 49, pleaded guilty this year to a bank fraud charge for embezzling company funds while working as a controller for Contempo Inc. USA, a Los Angeles business that imports and distributes fashion accessories. From August 2014 through September of last year, Lee forged signatures of company officials on 92 unauthorized checks made to him for $1.38 million, prosecutors said. At the same time, Lee was free on bond after pleading guilty to embezzling $2.65 million from Glovis America, an Irvine-based logistics company where he had worked as an accounting manager. Prosecutors said Lee used the stolen Glovis money for gambling and to pay personal bills for car insurance, credit cards and his mortgage. Prosecutors said he used part of the embezzled money from Contempo for gambling.

Former restaurant owner sentenced for $1.3 million tax scheme

A former Springfield restaurant owner is headed to federal prison for tax evasion. A federal judge has sentenced Agim Zendeli, 43, to three years and one month in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Zendeli to pay $1,330,708 in restitution to the IRS. Zendeli pleaded guilty to failing to pay over to the IRS the payroll taxes he collected from his employees. Zendeli operated a chain of restaurants under the name “Ziggies” in Springfield, Republic, Willard, Marshfield, Nevada, West Plains, Rolla, Carthage and Poplar Bluff in Missouri, and in Fort Scott and Pittsburg in Kansas, from 1998 to 2014. Zendeli admitted he diverted substantial amounts of money from the restaurant LLCs he owned and operated from 2004 to 2014. During this period, Zendeli lived a lavish lifestyle, and spent substantial sums on vacations, gambling trips, entertainment and luxury vehicles, including three BMWs, two Cadillac Escalades, two Infiniti QX56s, a 2009 Mercedes, a 2008 Acura and a 2004 Land Rover.

Son on trial for murder: ‘I did it for her’

He said his mama told him, “It was either his life or our life.” With those grim instructions from his mother, Dontonio Thornton allegedly accepted the .45 caliber pistol Willie Mae Thornton handed him, followed her into the TM Food Mart, waited for store owner Phuong Truong to be distracted, then shot him once behind the ear. According to prosecutors, then 19-year-old Thornton and his mother proceeded to rip out Truong’s video surveillance equipment, take Truong’s cash, steal the gun he kept under the counter and go shopping for $330 worth of groceries at a nearby supermarket. Willie Mae Thornton was ultimately convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for Truong’s 2014 death. Dontonio told investigators his mother had asked him to help her with the robbery because she lost all the money she had at the casino. He said she had a gun and gloves in her purse, and she handed him the pistol as she laid out the robbery plan and warned him Truong kept a gun under the counter.

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