A Brief Look at Crime 02/13 – 02/19

Broward insurance firm-turned-‘Ponzi scheme’ cost Florida, policyholders $100 million

The final act in the little-noticed liquidation of a Fort Lauderdale-based insurance company that regulators say evolved into a “Ponzi scheme” that cost Florida and its policyholders more than $100 million is set to unfold in court this spring. The Florida Department of Financial Services’ fraud case is an offshoot of its receivership of AequiCap, the property and casualty insurance company the state was forced to take over – and pay claims for – when it went belly up in 2011. It was one of Florida’s largest insurance company failures. AequiCap’s chairman and principal owner was South Florida insurance, taxi and private school entrepreneur Philip Morgaman, a longtime business partner of Broward Yellow Cab kingpin Jesse Gaddis. State court filings say Morgaman milked big money from AequiCap, using the insurer’s funds to provide him with “a form of self-insurance for his business ventures unaffiliated with AequiCap as well as to perpetuate his extravagant lifestyle.” DFS spokeswoman Carr said Florida settled to obtain “a guaranteed recovery for an estate with overwhelming losses – over $100 million” and to avoid “lengthy complex litigation” that would have eaten up most of the insurance policy’s proceeds. “The individuals did not appear to be collectible, and the financials of Phil Morgaman showed him to have huge gambling losses and other financial problems,” Carr said.

Denial in pushing suicide 

A woman on trial for pushing her husband to kill himself denied the allegations in a Cranbrook court while admitting to having marriage troubles. Terri Reimer is accused of counselling her husband, Bill Reimer, to commit suicide as well as administering a noxious substance with the intent to endanger. He survived and is expected to be one of several witnesses the Crown will call to testify. Provincial court has previously heard that RCMP responded to a report of a suicidal man with a gun on March 22, 2016. Terri Reimer testified Thursday that her husband had a history of depression, recounting two other times she believed he was considering suicide. Reimer told the court that difficulties in their marriage over the past year stemmed from her infidelity and a $300,000 gambling debt she accumulated, but she denied counselling him to kill himself. “I would never tell him to commit suicide,” she said. “I love him too much. I still do.”

Clerk stole more than £330,000 from building firm – and 60 people could now lose their jobs

A trusted accounts clerk stole more than £330,000 from a building company to pay for her online gambling habit – and 60 jobs are now in jeopardy because of her thefts. Cardiff Crown Court heard how Beverley Pearce, 54, paid herself up to five times a month from the company accounts. Pearce began secretly transferring funds to herself in 2011 and carried on for five years. But she was found out in 2016, after 16 years of service to the company, when another employee noticed 90 unauthorised transactions from the company account to a B. Pearce. The court heard building company Brecongate is now struggling to survive because of her crimes. “She was shocked in her interview to realise how much money shehad taken” Defending Pearce, Claire Wilks said Pearce blamed her addiction to online gambling. She said: “It was almost not real money. Putting figures into the computer and gambling away.

Financial adviser guilty of embezzlement; clients included Mike Tyson, Dikembe Mutombo

A financial adviser working for Mike Tyson, Glen Rice and Dikembe Mutombo pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling more than $1 million from his clients; prosecutors alleged that the adviser used the death of Tyson’s daughter to hide some of the theft. Appearing in court with a full head of white hair, a tweed jacket and a healthy tan, 55-year-old Brian Ourand didn’t explain why he did it, but admitted to using fraudulent checks, credit cards and illegal wire transfers to steal from four professional athletes from 2006 to 2011. The indictment said Ourand used the money he stole for gambling debts, hotel stays, tanning salons, dental work, clothing, restaurants, home improvement purchases and private school tuition for his girlfriend’s relative.

Prosecutors did not name the other two athletes, but an earlier filing with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission obtained by ESPN stated that former NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo exposed the fraud when his “American Express card had been declined” and “there was activity on the card in Ourand’s name.” Federal prosecutors said Ourand stole at least $75,000 from a nonprofit created by “Athlete C” and spent another $40,000 of that athlete’s money by creating a fraudulent American Express card. The SEC filing stated that Ourand managed “the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, which funds humanitarian work in the Democratic Republic on the Congo,” where Mutombo was born.

YouTube star Nepenthez fined for running Fifa online gambling site used by children

A YouTube star and his businesspartner have been fined for running a gambling website connected to football game Fifa. Well-known gamer Craig Douglas, 32, and Dylan Rigby, 33, ran a site that enabled children to bet using the virtual currency of the footballvideo game. They both pleading guilty to offences under the UK’s Gambling Act. Douglas was fined £91,000 and Rigby was ordered to pay £164,000. Douglas, otherwise known as Nepenthez, promoted the site on his YouTube channel which has more than 1.3 million subscribers. The site, called FUT Galaxy, let people transfer the virtual currency from the Fifa game to place real-life bets – with winnings transferrable back to the game. But the Fifa currency can also be sold online, giving it a real-life value. The site is not unique – with the video game-gambling business thought to be worth billions of pounds. Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the UK’s gambling commission, told the BBC: “This was one of the most serious cases that has been investigated and prosecuted by the commission. “Its gravity is reflected in the significant financial penalties imposed by the judge.” She added that the impact online gambling had on children was “horrific” and “serious”.

Albanian migrant ‘murdered retired couple he thought were millionaires after racking up thousands in gambling debt

 

AN Albanian migrant murdered a retired married couple he thought were millionaires after racking up gambling debts, a court has heard. Ali Qazimaj, 43, stands accused of stabbing Peter Stuart, 75, nine times before trying to hide his body in tarpaulin in a water-filled ditch close to his Suffolk home. He is also charged with the murder of Peter’s wife, Sylvia, 69, even though her body has never been found. Prosecutors say Qazimaj murdered the couple at some point between May 29 and June 3 last year – but he denies this. The defendant claims he is the victim of mistaken identity and says he is called Vital Dapi. Ipswich Crown Court was yesterday told Qazimaj had a serious gambling problem and spent up to £1,000 a day on gaming machines at bookmakers near his home in Tilbury, Essex. He worked as a carer for Sidney Paxman, whose son, Steven, was married to the Stuarts’ daughter Christy. Prosecutor Karim Khalil QC said Sidney Paxman had given Qazimaj around £10,000 over a number of years and had told him that Mr and Mrs Stuart were millionaires. “Over the two years leading up to 2016, Sidney Paxman had given him the best part of £10,000,” said Mr Khalil. “Over these years Sidney Paxman will say he had told Ali Qazimaj about the Stuarts, describing them as millionaires, telling him about the difficulties between the Stuarts and Stephen (Paxman).” Qazimaj also boasted to Sidney about a contract killing and pointed out marshland to him, saying it would be an ideal place to hide a body, Mr Khalil told the court.

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