A Brief Look at Crime 01/16 – 01/22

Western Union Slammed For Aiding Crooks, Agrees To Pay $586 Million

Money transfer giant Western Union has agreed to pay $586 million in connection with its failure to prevent criminals from moving ill-gotten money using its platform, according to federal authorities. In a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission on Thursday, authorities describe insufficient or poorly enforced policies that resulted in the funneling of hundreds of millions of dollars in proceeds from illegal gambling, fraud and drug and human trafficking. Western Union admitted to criminal violations including its willful failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and aiding and abetting wire fraud. “Western Union owes a responsibility to American consumers to guard against fraud, but instead the company looked the other way, and its system facilitated scammers and rip-offs,” says FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez. Authorities say that employees allowed or aided and abetted fraudsters in processing illicit proceeds and that the company knew about it. However, rather than firing them, Western Union allowed the employees to continue working for the company and even paid them bonuses.

Mom is out gambling as 11 children die in house fire

Virginia Williams, then in her late 20s, was out gambling 20 years ago when 11 of her children died in a house fire. She’s had six more children since, and some of them say she’s abused them. She was imprisoned for abuse. Periodically, the state has intervened in the children’s behalf, but the family remains racked by problems. Some blame Williams, who has a mental disorder and gambling addiction. Some blame the state. Some blame both. Williams, a compulsive gambler, abused and neglected her second family much as she did her first, her children and court records allege. The state of Illinois knew this was happening but left the children vulnerable again and again. Again there were danger signs, and again the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the juvenile court and other agencies stepped in. But their efforts, those familiar with the case say, were inconsistent and ineffective. Two of these children are so damaged psychologically they may be dangerous to others, concludes one psychologist after reviewing information provided by the Post-Dispatch. The story of the two sets of Williams children, and how history came to repeat itself so grimly, is an entwined tale of a dysfunctional mother and a broken system that, far too often, failed to protect its most vulnerable children.

Las Vegas Sands paying $7M to settle corrupt practices probe

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s casino company is paying almost $7 million to U.S. authorities to end a more than five-year corrupt practices investigation of the firm’s former relationship with a consultant in Macao and China, company and federal officials said Thursday. With the agreement, Las Vegas Sands Corp. resolved twin probes of more than $60 million paid to an unnamed agent retained in 2006 to acquire a Chinese basketball team, plus other business dealings that include a Beijing real estate deal to promote casinos on the Cotai Strip of Macao, U.S. Justice Department and FBI officials said. The $6.96 million penalty was in addition to a $9 million civil payment the company made in April to settle a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation that found some payments to the consultant weren’t properly authorized or documented, the government said.

Woman who stole from her Mankato employer ordered to pay $124,000 restitution

A St. Peter woman who allegedly stole from her Mankato employer must pay restitution and spend a decade on probation. Vanessa Wynn Kuder, 42, was convicted Tuesday of felony theft by swindle. Two other felony charges were dismissed in a plea deal. She was ordered to pay $124,000 in restitution and serve 10 years probation with conditions including she must undergo psychological and gambling addiction evaluations. Kuder worked as an accounts payable manager for a property management company. She made unauthorized charges on her company credit card and then forged company checks and made unauthorized money transfers to pay off the credit card in 2015 and early 2016, according to the criminal complaint.

Man dies months after being hit with beer mug; death ruled a homicide

A 51-year-old man who was hit in the head with a beer mug in November has died, and the island’s medical examiner has ruled the death a homicide. An autopsy performed Thursday confirmed the man died from a skull fracture and brain damage, according to Dr. Aurelio Espinola, chief medical examiner. A magistrate’s complaint states Nakamura was gambling with a man named Henry on Nov. 9 at the Slurp n Burp Bar in Harmon, when Henry decided he wanted to stop. Nakamura allegedly tried to get Henry to continue to gamble, at which point Arriola confronted Nakamura, telling him to leave Henry alone, documents state. Arriola told authorities Henry is his friend.

Genovese family mobsters busted for offshore gambling ring

More than a dozen reputed members of New York’s infamous Genovese crime family have been arrested on a slew of charges stemming from a bust dubbed “Operation Shark Bait.” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office says the 13 mobsters indicted Thursday were part of a lucrative illegal offshore gambling ring that also trapped victims in loan schemes. The defendants allegedly ran the multimillion-dollar gambling operation through a wire room in Costa Rica that handled wagers on college and professional sports. Schneiderman says the group’s loansharking business charged “outrageous” interest rates on loans that were impossible to repay. Investigators captured much of the suspects’ alleged illegal interactions through intercepted conversations. Two mobsters were also charged with evading state taxes for selling more than 30,000 illegal cigarettes in New York.

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