A Brief Look at Crime 01/02-01/08

Arrest made in casino hit-run death, Coconut Creek police say

Police announced the arrest of a 25-year-old woman Tuesday night in connection with the hit-and-run death of a man in the driveway of the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. “I have to return to New Jersey…and I really wanted an arrest before I had to go,” Edelstein’s sister, Sheryl DiDomenico, said Tuesday night about 30 minutes after police called and informed her of the arrest. “I understand accidents, but I cannot comprehend how somebody could hit someone and just leave them lying there. It’s horrible.” By 11 p.m. the same day Edelstein was hit, police had located a gray 2003 Toyota Corolla described by witnesses. The car was at an address in North Lauderdale, police said. Edelstein wasn’t a drinker but he frequented a small casino bar where he would order coffee and chat with friends. He used the Seminole Casino as his social club, a Hollywood friend, Karen Tarte, told the Sun Sentinel.

Dad says quit gambling for New Year after son’s suicide over debts

A dad whose son hanged himself over his gambling debts has urged people who bet large amounts of money to give it up in the New Year. John Myers, 57, from Huyton, said the Christmas period was difficult for his family without his son Ryan, who committed suicide aged 27 after losing thousands of pounds on fixed-odds machines in 2014. He said the costs of the festive season made it tough for cash-strapped gambling addicts too, but were also a good opportunity for them to acknowledge their problems and seek help. He revealed that he discovered after Ryan’s death that his son, a carpenter, once took out a payday loan to buy presents after running out of cash. An inquest ruled that Ryan took his own life, after he left a tragic Facebook message apologising for letting people down. John Myers, who started a petition for tougher gambling laws, said: “This time of year is a really hard time for gamblers, because of all the pressures of Christmas. It should be a wake-up call if you have kids and family, and have no money to pay for them, to seek help for their sake at least

$2.5M seized from Southfield gambler’s luggage was scam proceeds

In a sensational case that’s unfolding in U.S. District Court in Detroit, the federal government says it has uncovered a scheme involving a professional gambler from Southfield and two cohorts who allegedly scammed investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to bankroll gambling sprees in Las Vegas. Prosecutors say 50-year-old Brian Benderoff of Southfield and his two unnamed associates pulled off this scheme until they arrived at Detroit Metro Airport in June with more than $2.5 million in their luggage — most of it cash. According to that 2008 lawsuit, Benderoff allegedly conned a travel agent out of more than $600,000 in loans — promising to pay it back, but instead gambling it all away. According to the lawsuit, Benderoff had high-roller status at Bally’s Park Place, Caesars and Tropicana — all of which bought him first-class airline tickets through a travel agency that operated out of Caesars Hotel and Casino. Given Benderoff’s status, the travel agent agreed to cash Benderoff’s personal checks when he showed up at the office looking for money to cover his gambling losses. According to the lawsuit, Benderoff wrote the travel agent four checks totaling almost $300,000. In return, the agent gave Benderoff American Express travelers checks. But all of Benderoff’s checks bounced, the lawsuit said.

Gambler owes Bloomfield Hills doctor $2.6 million

A Southfield gambler whose cash-stuffed luggage landed him on the federal government’s radar this month has another legal headache to deal with: A doctor who claims the same man stiffed him out of $2.6 million. According to a lawsuit filed in Oakland County Circuit Court, Bloomfield Hills physician Sheldon Gonte loaned $2.6 million in 2015 to 50-year-old Brian Benderoff of Southfield to support Benderoff’s various business investments. But Benderoff never paid the money back, even though he signed several promissory notes vowing to do so, the lawsuit claims. According to the lawsuit, Gonte loaned the money to Benderoff because Benderoff’s business partner was the doctor’s brother, who had initially borrowed more than $2 million from their parents to support his business. But the parents never got their money back, the lawsuit claims, so the doctor loaned the pair money to make sure his parents wouldn’t get stiffed. According to the lawsuit, the parents never got repaid; neither did Gonte.

Arson suspect killed by Reno police drove into 2 officers

Sparks police say a robbery and arson suspect fatally shot by Reno police on Dec. 21 knocked two officers down with his car in a Reno casino parking lot before they opened fire. Sparks Police Lt. Mike Keating said Thursday 38-year-old Raymond Salaiz refused orders to exit his vehicle, started it as they tried to remove the keys and quickly backed up. Keating says Salaiz dragged one officer a short distance and knocked both down before exiting the lot at the Gold Dust West Casino and colliding with another vehicle. He died that night at a Reno hospital.

Woman Jailed for Stealing $427K from Thompson Auto in Doylestown to Play Bingo

The former office manager of the Thompson Organization in Doylestown was sent Thursday to the Bucks County Correctional Facility for stealing more than $427,000 from her employer over a 10-year period. She blamed an addiction to high-end bingo games for the thefts. Investigators found no evidence that she spent the stolen money on anything but bingo, which Lutz attended at volunteer fire companies or other charitable organizations several times each week. Lutz pleaded guilty on November 7 to a long list of felony theft-related charges. She admitted that from February 2006 to January 2016, she consistently stole money from her employer by a variety of means, and then altered computer records to cover her tracks.

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