A Brief Look at Crime 11/28 – 12/04

Woman admits taking $1.5 million from 2 Missouri businesses 

A Missouri woman has pleaded guilty to embezzling $1.5 million from two major Kansas City-area businesses. [The employee] entered the plea Tuesday in federal court to three counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. She admitted to stealing the money from Black & Veatch and Garmin, where she worked in senior payroll jobs. She admitted taking $1.2 million from Garmin and about $300,000 from Black & Veatch. She also stole about $7,400 from Tristar Benefit Administrators which managed health care savings accounts for Garmin. Prosecutors say an analysis of Webb’s bank account showed she spent a large amount of money at casinos.

Man charged with defrauding victims across the world

The lure of quick money — $1 million in just 30 days — was enough to attract investors from Germany, Britain and the Bahamas. It was a promise, they later learned, that would turn them into victims. Michael K. Martin, one of the men accused of bilking the investors, was arraigned Monday in Buffalo federal court on 34 charges of wire fraud. He entered a plea of not guilty. Martin, who waived his court appearance Monday, was initially charged with defrauding one investor. “There are now an additional five victims,” Assistant U.S. Attorney MaryEllen Kresse said Monday. Martin’s arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. came just a year after Venti took a plea deal in which he admitted enticing investors with false promises of high-yield returns and then pocketing much of the money they gave him. All told, Venti’s clients, many of them large institutional investors, lost more than $7 million. Venti also admitted withdrawing $148,000 in investor funds while at three local casinos.

Dog Fighting Discovery Unveils Underground Issue in Buffalo

SPCA investigators say what they found Thursday was a “textbook” dog-fighting scene. Investigators say their work started when they got a phone call from a passerby who heard a dog crying for a long time. Animal cruelty investigators rescued two dogs and one puppy in the basement of a home on Congress Street. Investigators say there were also treadmills, weights and vitamins in the basement, all of which are commonly used to train dogs to fight. The SPCA says the problem isn’t new to Western New York. “Because of the number of calls we receive, because of the evidence we find, Buffalo is unfortunately a hotbed of dog fighting, and it’s sad, it’s scary,” said Gina Browning, Erie County SPCA public relations director. “People hear dog fighting and there are some people that think of New York and L.A. and Chicago. Unfortunately it’s happening right here in Buffalo.”

Fort Pierce Police Identify Victim in targeted Gambling Robbery, Shooting

Fort Pierce police are investigating a home invasion and shooting of a 26-year-old man Tuesday evening. “It looks like this may have been targeted, particularly for one reason or another, as opposed to being a random attack or burglary of some kind, so we’re trying to find out what that connection is. We’re looking for the suspects,” said Ed Cunningham with Fort Pierce police. Investigators are interviewing witnesses who were at the home at the time of the shooting. Fort Pierce police now say the shooting victim is on life support. They also say he was not the intended target but someone else in the residence was. Police say illegal gambling activity was taking place at the scene of the shooting.

Date set for pleas in casino scam that netted more than $400K

Two men charged with running a scam that cost Mohegan Sun Pocono casino more than $420,000 on Friday got a date to enter their guilty pleas. The men are accused of conspiring with server Rochelle Poszeluznyj, 38, of Kingston, in a scheme to clone players’ cards that were then loaded with $478,350 in free slot play. The cards were then used to illegally win $422,147 at the casino from May 2014 to April 2015. Poszeluznyj reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors in August. She is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a single count of money laundering.

Federal judge sentences former University of Missouri employee to four years for embezzlement 

A former University of Missouri employee was sentenced Tuesday to four years in federal prison without parole for embezzling more than $781,000 over 13 years. Rathmann stole money by submitting fake and fraudulent invoices to the university, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tammy Dickinson. Rathmann admitted to illegally using a university credit card for about $146,144 in personal expenses and also used the ill-gotten money for gambling, buying expensive cars and high-end appliances, remodeling her home, taking expensive vacations and buying other luxury items, such as a hot tub.

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