A Brief Look at Crime 05/08 – 05/14

Problem poker player gets 8 years in prison for $31 Million debt scam

One of the nation’s top poker players blamed gambling for derailing his life on Thursday as he was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for a $31 million debt collection scam. Travell Thomas, 38, a past winner of World Series of Poker tournaments, sobbed as he described how his gambling was “out of control” before he was criminally charged with running a Buffalo-based debt collection business that made false threats and representations to thousands of people nationwide from at least 2010 to 2015. “I would spend days at the casinos,” he told U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla. “I wouldn’t even change my clothes.”Thomas, of Orchard Park, New York, said authorities “saved my life” when they told him he could no longer gamble. “I didn’t spend much time at the office. I spent most of my time gambling,” he said before Failla announced that he must serve eight years and four months in prison, beginning in September. Failla said Thomas preyed on financially distressed people. “A lot of the money that was taken went to him and his enjoyment,” she said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Imperatore said greed motivated Thomas and he spent the profits from his business largely on himself, including season tickets to Buffalo Bills games, gold, lavish trips, jewelry, cars, casino entertainment and gambling.

Genting Casino armed raid: Five masked man with knives and axe storm casino  

Police are appealing for information after five masked raiders armed with knives and an axe stormed a Birmingham casino on Easter Sunday. One terrified customer told how the ordeal was ‘like something out of a movie’, as the five men raided the Genting Casino in Edgbaston just after 9pm. The armed men demanded cash from staff and stole a wallet from a customer before escaping in a VW Golf. One customer told how she was having dinner when the men burst into the Norfolk Road casino. “We had just sat at down at the table and could hear loud screaming and everyone running everywhere, only to get up and see 5 or 6 masked men with guns machetes and hammers! “They screamed at us and told us to lay down on the floor while snatching phones off people and headed for the casino cash desk! “It was like something out of a movie!”

Sequim woman pleads guilty in theft case; Crime believed to be one of the largest in county history 

A Sequim woman was sentenced Tuesday morning in Clallam County Superior Court for what could be one of the largest financial crimes in the county’s history, says Judge Christopher Melly. Eleana Maria Christianson, 49, pleaded guilty to second-degree theft for taking at least $775,000 from Donald and Pilar Tucker, owners of Park Manager LLC, and Donald’s mother. The Tuckers settled with the Christiansons through a civil lawsuit for $775,000, which they’ve received about $645,000, Espinoza said. Donald Tucker asked Melly to consider jail time saying “(Christianson) was the mastermind behind a criminal conspiracy that robbed our family of almost a million dollars. Perhaps the largest embezzlement in this county. She forever changed the way Pilar and I trust.” Some of the reported theft included credit cards use in McQuillen’s name, and separate expenditures of an estimated $163,390 at 7 Cedars Casino from Dec. 2, 2010-June 27, 2013, where Eleana only won $11,537 back gambling.

Post office worker jailed for embezzling £134,000 from Edinburgh shop

A man who admitted embezzling more than £134,000 from an Edinburgh post office where he was the manager has been jailed for 16 months.Daryl Louden, 26, from Edinburgh, had pleaded guilty previously to embezzling £134,177.46 from the branch in RS McColl’s in Ferry Road between 1 January and 29 September 2017. Louden had taken the money to feed his gambling habit. Sheriff Crowe had heard that Louden had been in line for promotion to area manager when he wrote to his superior officer, David Richardson, saying he no longer wanted promotion and wished to stay where he was. Mr Richardson had been curious about this and carried out a spot check at the office. It revealed about £135,000 was missing. When Mr Richardson confronted Louden, he admitted to having a gambling addiction, which he said had ruined his life.

Columbia woman charged with stealing more than $100,000 from employer 

A Columbia woman has been charged with four felonies on suspicion that she bilked her employer out off more than $100,000. Katherine D. McCrosky, 41, was charged in October with forgery and three counts of fraudulent use of a credit device. She was booked Friday into the Boone County Jail, where she remained Monday on a $30,000 bond. McCrosky worked for Focus on Learning Center, 200 Corporate Lake Drive, as the bookkeeper and made hundreds of fraudulent transactions using company credit cards between December 2014 and February 2016, according to a probable cause statement. The owner of the business reported the thefts to Columbia police in October. Using three credit cards and also issuing herself a loan check, McCrosky allegedly stole $102,256. The owner of the business told police McCrosky admitted to her that she stole the money because she has a gambling problem.

State police seize illegal gambling machines, over $177K in cash in raids

Pennsylvania State Police seized 215 electronic gambling machines and over $177,000 in cash from bars and clubs following an investigation into illegal gambling in Washington, Westmoreland, Fayette, and Allegheny counties on Tuesday. The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement (BLCE) executed numerous search warrants and conducted inspections of 48 licensed liquor establishments in those areas. “The ongoing operations of illegal gambling devices and illegal video gaming terminals, while often viewed as a victimless crime, result in lost tax revenue for Pennsylvanians and victimize households of citizens whose family members have gambling addictions,” said Major Scott T. Miller, Director of the BLCE. “The devices are not included in, nor may they be considered a part of, the Small Games of Chance Act.” Illegal machines such as these are unregulated and do not operate on true odds; the amount of money retained by the machine is determined by and set by the vendor. The payout percentage would never be known by the player of the machine and is not verified by any governmental or industry oversight.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

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