A Brief Look at Crime 07/03 – 07/09

Minnesota Man Gets 12.5 Years In Prison For Slaying Over Bar Poker Game

A bar poker game gone horribly wrong has resulted in a prison sentence of 12.5 years for one Minnesota man. According to a report from ABC Newspaper, 45-year-old Chad Nelson was sentenced Thursday over the July 2015 shooting that stemmed from a cheating accusation in the free poker tournament. The altercation continued in the parking lot outside Willy’s Bar in Coon Rapids, and when it was over a man by the name of Rayontra McCall was dead. He was 29. Nelson, who was alone that evening, claimed self-defense against McCall and his friends. Nelson said he had stopped by the bar to play some poker after refereeing a youth soccer game. However, the night started to head south when one of McCall’s friends accused Nelson of “cheating him out of two poker chips,” the report said. Nelson said that McCall punched him in the face through the window of his vehicle when Nelson was trying to leave. A witness confirmed that McCall had struck Nelson. This is when Nelson fired two shots outside his car. The victim later died at the hospital.

Absolute Poker Founder Pleads Guilty To Online Gambling Crime

Back in February, the co-founder of Absolute Poker finally returned to the United States to face the years-old charges against him. He will be sentenced in September in New York after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge late last month. Scott Tom, who had been living overseas, will be sentenced Sept. 28, according to a court document. He admitted to “the interstate transmission of gambling information.” He had also been accused of money laundering. “Tom helped Absolute Poker, an unlawful internet gambling business, continue to operate in the United States and accept payments from United States customers without detection by United States law enforcement,” the government said in a court document. Tom will have to forfeit any ill-gotten gains. According to the government, Absolute Poker made some $500 million from Americans during its run. About $60 million worth of player money was lost when the site shut down.

China-linked gang laundered “millions” through BC casinos

Canadian casinos are not having the greatest week, dealing with allegations of money laundering and the unauthorized public release of private customer data. On Tuesday, British Columbia authorities announced the arrest of nine suspects in a widespread criminal enterprise that allegedly laundered millions of dollars through local casinos. Police have yet to indicate which casinos are involved but did say that none of the arrested suspects are casino employees. The criminal gang, which reportedly has links to mainland China and other countries, stands accused of everything from money laundering to extortion to loan sharking to operating its own illegal gambling operations. The arrests followed a lengthy investigation that began in May 2016.

Former casino VP to serve 32 months in jail

Former Mohegan Sun Pocono casino Vice President Robert Pellegrini will spend 32 months in prison for his admitted role in a money-laundering scam that cost the casino more than $420,000. Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo imposed the sentence Friday at the Max Rosenn Federal Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre for conspiracy to commit money laundering. Pellegrini used his executive casino access to make copies of player cards belonging to high-end customers and put free play on the cards, which gambler Mark Heltzel used to play slot machines. A beverage server at the casino, Rochelle Poszeluznyj, collected the card information as she served drinks. At Friday’s sentencing hearing, Ruzzo noted that Pellegrini is an addicted gambler and his working in a casino was equivalent to an alcoholic tending bar, “working in an industry that supports his addiction.” Pellegrini, of Fairview Twp., told Caputo that he attends weekly meetings of Gamblers Anonymous.

Ex bank rep embezzles $1M, gets 3 years in prison

A former rep with First Tennessee Bank is serving a three-year sentence in federal prison for embezzling more than $1 million from bank customers and filing incorrect income tax returns. Kenneth Lynn Miller, a manager of investments and other bank products who many in the community considered a “go-to guy,” defrauded numerous customers to satisfy a gambling addiction that started when he was in college, according to documents filed in federal court in Tennessee. Miller swindled customers by accessing and transferring funds out of their CDs and other accounts over a four-year period beginning in 2012. He pleaded guilty to one count of theft and four counts of tax evasion last year. He targeted his victims, choosing customers who did not review their monthly account statements or whose accounts were inactive, according to court filings. “The defendant’s conduct was methodical, deliberate and persistent,” prosecutors argued in their sentencing memorandum.

Landscaping business doubled as huge cockfighting operation

An unassuming upstate landscaping business was secretly home to a massive cockfighting operation where organizers attached razor blades to the chickens’ legs and staged elaborate showdowns for sickos from around the state, according to a new report. The fowl outfit — which cops raided Saturday — blasted music and sold home-made concessions for gamblers to gobble as they bet on the birds slicing each other to pieces, the Syracuse Post Standard reports. Cops busted 41 people and seized hundreds of roosters, $68,000, seven handguns and three ounces of heroin during the raid in the Herkimer County town of Frankfurt, the culmination of a six-month investigation the state Attorney General’s Office dubbed “Operation Bloodsport,” the paper reports. Samson was one of those arrested, but another man Radhamez “Cesar” Perez, 37, is accused of organizing the sadistic shows and inviting people from all over New York Satet to attend. It was a family operation, authorities claim — his girlfriend sold tickets while his mom cooked the food they sold.

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