A Brief Look at Crime 03/20 – 04/02

Man killed by police at Reno casino was wanted in UT, CA

Police have identified the armed robber who was fatally shot inside a downtown Reno casino last week as a 24-year-old Las Vegas man who was wanted in connection with an armed robbery in Utah and a car-jacking in California. Sparks detectives leading an investigation into the officer-involved shooting identified the victim Monday as Steven Valenzuela. Investigators say he was wanted in connection with an armed robbery in St. George, Utah and an armed car-jacking in Los Angeles County. A Reno police officer opened fire Thursday afternoon after Valenzuela allegedly robbed someone and fled into the Eldorado hotel-casino with a handgun. Police say he ignored numerous verbal commands to drop the gun.

Former Tolleson Schools Employee Pleads Guilty to Theft

A former employee of Tolleson Union High School District has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the theft of more than $120,000 from the district. Busse, a former school-bookstore manager, was arrested in late 2015 and accused of using a district receipt-processing system to embezzle the money, according to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Busse manipulated district computer data 374 times from 2007 to 2011 while working as Tolleson Union’s bookstore manager, officials said. Officials allege Busse stole the money mainly for gambling and to conceal financial inconsistencies. She originally was indicted on three felony counts of theft, misuse of public monies and fraudulent schemes. She initially entered a not-guilty plea to those charges.

Woman who stole from Missouri Lottery winner sentenced

A former Kansas City woman who stole more than $400,000 from a Missouri Lottery winner has been sentenced to five years in federal prison. Freya Pearson, of Conyers, Georgia, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City. She also was ordered to pay $441,830 to the victim, a 61-year-old former hospital housekeeper. The victim won $2.4 million in the Missouri Lottery in 2008. Because of the fraud, she is now financially insolvent. Prosecutors say Pearson convinced the woman to withdraw her lottery money from an annuity she had established and deposit it in three checking accounts Pearson established. Pearson spent much of the money on gambling, vehicles and travel. Pearson also fraudulently obtained federal housing benefits and didn’t pay some taxes, causing a total loss of $640,667.

Boynton man gets two years for million dollar embezzlement he blames on gambling 

A 59-year-old Boynton Beach man was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to get help for a gambling problem that he claimed led him to embezzle roughly $1.7 million from construction companies where he worked. With the help of a Deerfield Beach man who wasn’t charged, federal prosecutors claim Gainsborg sent fake invoices to Puder. When Puder questioned the bills, Gainsborg ran them through two general contractors. Those men, however, didn’t know Gainsborg was stealing from Puder and didn’t make any money on the scam, prosecutors said.

7 Baltimore officers federally indicted for racketeering, including robbing victims

Seven Baltimore City Police officers are being federally indicted for a racketeering conspiracy, according to the Justice Department, in an investigative case that was secretly conducted and kept quiet about even from the city’s State’s Attorney. The arrests of the officers allegedly involved in racketeering were announced in the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Wednesday morning. The accused officers were reportedly robbing victims ranging from $200,000 to a ‘couple hundred dollars,’ filing false affidavits, and making fraudulent overtime claims while officers vacationed in Myrtle Beach and gambled at casinos. “These seven police officers betrayed the trust” of not only the police department but also the public, said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, during a time when the city was “under scrutiny” and trying to heal in a post-Freddie Gray climate.

Woman jailed for stealing $248K from heir to Abington man’s estate

A Philadelphia woman is on her way to jail for embezzling nearly $250,000 from the heir to the estate of an Abington man who had enlisted her help while finalizing the estate. “There are a number of awful things about this, one being just the sheer amount that was taken,” said county Assistant District Attorney Meghan Carney, explaining the heir, a young man in his 20s, incurred financial problems as a result of the theft. “This wasn’t a stranger doing this to another stranger, but a family member. So this was a complete abuse of trust. He relied on this family member and she took advantage of him.” When detectives confronted Johns about the theft “she admitted to spending approximately $100,000 of this money on gambling,” according to the criminal complaint.

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