A Brief Look at Crime 08/21 – 09/03

Alleged murder victim lost $5,500 at casino just prior to fatal crash

Caesars Windsor surveillance footage shows Andrew Witt making repeated withdrawals from an ATM and expressing his grief over failed bets — including the loss of $2,500 on one roll at the craps table just minutes before leaving the casino, a jury heard Wednesday. Less than an hour later, the 55-year-year-old Witt was dead after riding as a passenger in a vehicle driven by his best friend Andrew Cowan, who is now on trial in Superior Court facing a charge of first-degree murder. Cowan, 45, who survived the Oct. 21, 2012 crash, has claimed both were attempting to commit suicide after leaving the casino when he piloted an F-150 pickup at a high rate of speed through a flower bed which he used as a ramp to go airborne and smash into a building in the 200 block of Talbot Street West in Leamington.

Ex-Winnebago Tribal Council member sentenced for casino theft

A former Winnebago Tribal Council member indicted last summer in a conspiracy to steal from the tribe’s casino got five years of probation at his sentencing Monday in federal court in Omaha. Lawrence Payer pleaded guilty to misapplying funds belonging to an Indian gaming establishment. According to the federal indictment, the defendants granted themselves funds from the Winna Vegas 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.

Suspect blames Silver Sevens attempted robbery on gambling debt

A man accused of attempting to rob an off-Strip casino cashier’s cage said he had recently lost $5,000 while gambling, according to an arrest report. Las Vegas police said Richard D. Watkins, 41, pointed a gun underneath the iron cage bars at Silver Sevens, 4100 Paradise Road, on Aug. 3 and demanded money from the employees and shot a handgun before he was captured by casino security. Detectives identified Watkins as a suspect through security footage and witness accounts. He had recently lost his job and money while betting at a sports book, according to the Metropolitan Police Department arrest report. “Watkins was clearly upset that he lost money and blamed the state of Nevada for allowing casinos to take his money,” the report said. Watkins faces several charges including attempted murder, attempted robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon. He was jailed in Clark County Detention Center and held without bail as of Tuesday morning.

Ex-nonprofit official to be sentenced for $500K embezzlement

A former finance director of a Providence nonprofit group who pleaded guilty to wire fraud for embezzling more than $500,000 from the organization is set to be sentenced this week. WJAR-TV reports that court documents show Charles Denno is asking a federal judge for a sentence of less than three years at his Friday hearing. Denno pleaded guilty earlier this year. Prosecutors say Denno took at least $550,000 from the nonprofit data analysis organization Providence Plan between November 2012 and July 2016. They say he used money given to the group from the U.S. Department of Education and the Bloomberg Family Foundation and paid it to a business he owned. Denno has acknowledged that he later used the money for personal reasons, including withdrawals at Twin River Casino

Man, 35, murdered outside illegal gambling spot in Trenton

Kryronne Hazel, 35, was found on a sidewalk on the 400 block of Lambeton Street suffering from a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Capital Health Regional Medical Center, a spokeswoman for the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office said Friday in an email. A 39-year-old man was also struck in his left cheek by the hail of gunfire. Authorities said he arrived at the hospital by personal vehicle. Neighbors described the area where the shooting occurred as a nuisance spot that attracts illegal gambling. “They gamble and stand outside the house on the front stoop,” one neighbor said, noting 15 people at any given time can loiter at the spot playing cards. “Everybody is outside every night. Sometimes late at night, they start screaming.” A couple who lives on the street believes many of the people who hang out at the illegal gambling operation don’t even live in the city. “They come in taxies, they come in big SUVs and they all carry weapons,” the neighbor said. “We’ve had our house shot, my car shot up and my husband’s car has been damaged.” Residents say they are being held hostage in their homes due to the far-too-common crime and shootings in the area. “We can’t sell the house,” said one resident, who lived on the block of Thursday night’s deadly shooting. “We had it on the market for a year and we had one person come and look and it.”

Top Members of Lucchese Crime Family Nabbed in New York Mob Crackdown

In a sweeping organized crime bust, New York investigators arrested 19 people who are alleged leaders and members of the notorious Lucchese crime family. The defendants were charged with a wide range of crimes including narcotics distribution, wire fraud, money laundering, murder, gambling and robbery. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the charges were linked to a racketeering scheme that ran in New York between 2000 and May 2017. The NYPD and the FBI’s Organized Crime Task Force carried out the crackdown. The Lucchese family is among five mafia organizations that have a long history of operating in New York. They are part of La Cosa Nostra, an organized criminal network that started in Italy.

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