A Brief Look at Crime 06/26 – 07/02

Former Winnebago Tribal Council member pleads guilty to casino theft

A former Winnebago Tribal Council member — one of nine indicted last summer in an alleged conspiracy to steal from the tribe’s casino — has pleaded guilty. Last July, a federal grand jury indicted nine former Winnebago council members, charging each with conspiracy, theft and misapplication of funds belonging to an Indian gaming establishment, and wire fraud. According to the federal indictment, the defendants granted themselves funds from the WinnaVegas Casino without accounting for them through the tribe’s payroll department or approving their distribution at a regular tribal council meeting. The distributions to defendants were paid through the use of casino gift certificates and pre-paid debit cards paid for by the casino. The total amount of gift certificates issued to the defendants in 2013 and 2014 was $87,000. The total amount loaded to the debit cards of the defendants in 2013 and 2014 was $240,500.

Priest pleads guilty to a quarter of a million dollar gambling fueled theft

A Roman Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $240,000 from his Massachusetts church to fuel his gambling habit will be allowed to return to parish ministry on a limited basis. The Telegram & Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/2rkWL98 ) that the Rev. Stephen Gemme will be allowed to fill in for other priests in the Worcester Diocese who are on vacation or otherwise unable to work. Bishop Robert McManus said Gemme will not be involved in administrative duties. Gemme was placed on five years’ probation in 2015 for stealing from St. Bernadette parish and school in Northborough. He has agreed to repay the money. Gemme was allowed earlier this year to return to ministry outside parishes, celebrating Mass at an addiction recovery center.

Former Morris Hardwick Schneider Controller Pleads Guilty to Fraud Conspiracy

The former controller of the Atlanta real estate closing firm once known as Morris Hardwick Schneider has pleaded guilty to a single fraud conspiracy charge. As part of her plea deal, Asha Maurya—who rose from escrow account controller to chief financial officer of the law firm’s closing division—will continue to cooperate in the ongoing criminal case against a former firm partner, Nathan Hardwick IV. Hardwick faces multiple counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud and making false statements associated with more than $20 million that federal proscutors contend was embezzled from the law firm’s coffers. The resulting losses forced the firm, now known as Morris Schneider Wittstadt, into bankruptcy in 2015. Federal prosecutors contend that Hardwick began embezzling money from the firm after his own finances became strained—in part because of a divorce that cost him more than $550,000 a year in alimony and other payments and in part because a lifestyle that included private jet travel and casino gambling could not keep pace with his legitimate earnings.

Prosecutors say Oregon woman embezzled almost $300,000 for travel, gambling

A woman from Skagway faces charges for embezzling funds almost hitting $300,000 while working as the administrator for an Indian tribal organization. According to charging documents presented by the Unites States Attorney, 63-year old Delia Commander will be tried for allegedly embezzling a grand total of $297,000 from 2010 to September of 2014 for things such as travel and to “support her gambling habit.” These funds were meant to provide resources for education, housing, environmental, and self-governance programs. Instead, prosecutors say, Commander used her role as administrator of these funds to embezzle $297,000, and then use them for her own personal reasons.

Agents shut down 4 internet cafes suspected of gambling (FL)

Law enforcement officers seized more than 170 pieces of electronic equipment during raids at four internet cafes in Ocala suspected of illegal gambling. With help from Ocala Police Department officers, agents with Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team shut down two of the cafes on Monday and two on Tuesday. So far no arrests have been made, but agents have confiscated thousands of dollars in cash. UDEST officials said they had received complaints from businesses and individuals about alleged illegal gambling. Beginning in March, agents conducted undercover investigations and determined the cafes had “games of chance” instead of games of skill. They conferred with state officials and obtained search warrants. Two of the cafes had been robbed within the past year. The people complaining to police were also concerned about the clientele the cafes attracted.

Woman Pleads No Contest To Draining Parents’ $200K Retirement Account

A South San Francisco woman pleaded no contest Tuesday in an elder abuse case where she stole more than $200,000 from her parents’ retirement account, prosecutors said. Jeanine Bernadette Jantoc, 45, lived with her parents. Her mother had a stroke in 2010, and her father asked Jantoc to research tax penalties for early withdrawals from their retirement account. Those withdrawals were never authorized, but between 2013 and 2016 Jantoc emptied her parents’ retirement account and opened up a series of credit cards in their names. When finally confronted, she left home, leaving an apology note and claiming to be addicted to gambling, prosecutors said. Jantoc pleaded no contest to felony elder theft and felony identity theft. She’s facing a maximum of two years in prison when she returns to court for sentencing July 20.

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

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