Monthly Archives: October 2017

How is the Deadly Mass Shooting in Las Vegas Impacting the Gambling Industry?

Casino Watch Focus has reported all too often on the many crimes that take place at casinos, but none have had the impact of the most recent mass shooting by Steven Paddock from the Mandalay Bay Casino hotel that was the most deadly shooting in modern U.S. history. Nearly 60 people were killed and hundreds injured by a man who was known to the gambling community in Las Vegas and who stayed at the hotel for many days prior to acting out his horrible crime. As one online source outlined, many are questioning if gambling debt lead him to this act, or if his gambling connection should be a focus at all in this mass shooting:

The subject of Paddock’s gambling life is an understandable preoccupation in Las Vegas, in part because, four days after Sunday night’s massacre at an open-air country music festival, authorities have provided no tangible motive for an attack that clearly took a great deal of plotting. That he was staying for free on a comp in the 32nd floor corner suite at Mandalay Bay — the Associated Press first reported that and /New York/ has since confirmed it — only adds to the sense that Paddock used the enormous amount of time he spent in the casino in part to devise his murderous plans. 

The focus on Paddock’s gambling has many in Vegas nervous. The destination has spent the last three decades pushing past its stigmatized image as an underworld haven. Still, even without any evidence to support the notion that Paddock dug himself into any sort of financial distress with his play, there is speculation. CBS News offered this headline on Thursday: “Motive of Las Vegas gunman may lie in his gambling habits.”

Anti-gambling activists, too, embraced this notion. “Whether Paddock’s out-of-control addiction to electronic gambling machines was a central factor in what happened last Sunday will be determined by the FBI investigation,” wrote Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling in a Thursday e-mail blast. “But news coverage and public discussion should not normalize Paddock’s single-minded obsession with gambling machines and the exploitive business practices used by the casinos to keep Paddock gambling continuously.”

Still yet, the entire situation is making everyone look at how much culpability, if any, should exist with the casinos where he gambled, and if anything can or should be done to prevent this in the future. An area of debate has been the fact that Paddock smuggled a small arsenal into the hotel to carry out his murderous plan. So its no surprise that executives were immediately engaged into talks about safety and security policies moving forward. An online publication reports:

The increased security measure has been a topic for discussion among casino operators since Paddock shot concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, a hotel complex owned by MGM Resorts International. Last year, casino magnate Steve Wynn warned that Las Vegas was a ‘target city’ and disclosed a raft of new security measures, including invisible metal detectors and specially trained guards, designed to prevent a large-scale attack.

Whether those measures would have prevented Sunday’s rampage on the strip in which 58 people were killed is unknown. But the shooting could spur casino operators to think more like Wynn, who had been dismissed as ‘obsessed’ about security before Sunday’s massacre, a rival casino executive said. ‘This could be a turning point,’ the executive said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because security measures are private. ‘Every management team is going to move this up to the top of the list.’

Some are concluding that culpability absolutely exists and the very nature of gambling addicts like Paddock leads to suicidal and other disturbing thoughts. They also suggest that the issue wont truly be examined like is should. An online source explains:

Mandalay Bay’s practices — and indeed the practices of virtually all casinos in an increasingly wealthy and powerful gambling industry — won’t get the scrutiny they deserve.

“No credible, independent person who deals with gambling in the United States and is not being paid by the gambling industry would say Stephen Paddock was a responsible gambler,” Les Bernal told me. He heads a group known as Stop Predatory Gambling.

Last December, the Atlantic did a lengthy story on the industry. Headlined, “How casinos enable gambling addicts,” it told in detail how everything from the way machines are programmed to the perks and the hostesses in casinos are designed to keep people gambling, either with their own money or with a loan from the house. Tarbert told me how this always ends with a period of self-loathing, during which the gambler often feels suicidal. 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 10/16 – 10/22

Las Vegas shooting: At least 50 dead in massacre Trump calls ‘act of pure evil’

A gunman turned a Las Vegas concert into a killing field Sunday night from his perch on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, using at least 10 guns to rain down a steady stream of fire, murdering at least 50 people and injuring more than 400 others in the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history. The suspect, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada. Police initially sought a woman believed to be Paddock’s roommate, Marilou Danley, as a “person of interest.” Detectives later made contact with her, and “do not believe she is involved with the shooting on The Strip.” President Trump said the mass shooting “was an act of pure evil,” and praised first responders in an address to the nation. “To the families of the victims, we are praying for you and we are here for you,” Trump said, adding that he will visit Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with first responders and families.

Did gambling debts drive Las Vegas gunman to madness?

Police investigating Stephen Paddock’s murder spree in Las Vegas on Sunday face a perplexing question: What drove this seemingly ordinary ex-accountant to kill 59 people and injure 527 more? With no criminal convictions – or even parking tickets – to his name, no history of mental illness and no clear political or religious affiliations, Paddock seems like an ordinary, quietly prosperous real estate speculator. But he did have one dark side: A gambling obsession that saw him splashing tens of thousands of dollars in Vegas casinos in the weeks before his murder-suicide spree. Could this have driven Paddock to madness and ultimately murder?

Eric didn’t know whether his brother was suffering financial issues or had gambling debts and speculated that he could lose $1 million and still have enough to live on. Paddock also had two planes registered to his name. But in the weeks before his meticulously planned and terrifying attack, Paddock had gambled more than $10,000 a day – sometimes even more than $30,000 – in Las Vegas casinos. That information came from someone who had seen Paddock’s Multiple Currency Transaction Reports (CTR) and a casino gaming executive, NBC reported.

Local woman stole millions from business to gamble

A 65-year-old woman embezzled more than two million dollars and spent it gambling. Charlotte Pottorff pleaded guilty to two counts of felony embezzlement, one count of perjury and one count of felony tax evasion in Bonneville County court on Sept. 11. Pottorff began working as a bookkeeper for Val Erickson, the owner of Dura-Bilt, Dura-Bilt Transmission and A&D Investments, in 1999. According to court documents, Erickson suspects the embezzlement began when she started working for him. According to court documents, Pottorff covered her tracks by making purchases for the company at a higher price than the items’ actual cost. She would then issue herself a check for the difference. She would issue these checks directly to herself or to bank accounts believed to be hers. She was the only one who had control over issuing checks and balancing the business’ accounts. According to court documents, Erickson discovered the theft after Pottorff retired from working for him. Erickson hired Fraud Examiner Daniel Packard to conduct a forensic audit of his business accounts. According to court documents, Packard determined an approximate $2,325,504.89 was misappropriated between the years of 2006 to 2017.

Ex-cashier hopes judge OKs 7½ years in prison on $13M theft

A woman convicted of stealing nearly $13 million from a Pittsburgh monuments and engraving firm is hoping a federal judge will approve a plea deal that calls for her to serve 7½ years in prison. Cynthia Mills pleaded guilty in March to mail fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion and money laundering for taking the money from Matthews International Corp. from 1999 to 2015. She was the company’s cashier. The Robinson Township woman has agreed to forfeit three homes, a yacht and two other boats, at least eight cars, and other items bought with the money, though her attorney, Phil DiLucente, has said she blew most of the money on casino gambling. Mill is also expected to pay back whatever debts can’t be covered by the asset forfeitures.

Illegal gambling, not robbery, led to deadly Jefferson County shooting, deputies say

A 66-year-old Jefferson County man is charged with capital murder in a deadly shooting at his business that he initially claimed was self-defense during a robbery. The shooting happened about 10 a.m. on July 3 at Black Diamond Paving on Old Jasper Highway. The business, which was officially closed that Monday, is in the Bagley community. Chief Deputy Randy Christian on Thursday said over the course of the investigation, detectives discovered evidence that indicated Rhode’s claim of an attempted robbery was false. Detectives learned that Rhodes was running an illegal gambling establishment at the business, and that two weeks prior to the shooting, the business had been robbed at gunpoint by two men in a gold car. On the day of the shooting, Cole and his friend went to the business to gamble, Christian said. They never made it to the building because they thought they were at the wrong place.

Fugitive accused of stealing to pay for gambling debt

The District Attorney’s Office is looking for a man who they say let a gambling habit get so far out of control that he ended up committing nearly three dozen felonies. Stephen Chitren is wanted on 33 counts of theft. Between 2012 and 2015, District Attorney Steve Wolfson says he ripped off United Blood Services to the tune of $128,000 with company-issued credit cards. “He was going down to a couple of local bars, the Copper Keg and the Tap House, and he was using these credit cards to get cash advances in amounts from $100 anywhere up to $600,” Wolfson explained. According to Wolfson, it all began with a gambling problem. Chitren got so deep, he started stealing from a company where he’d worked for 20 years. 

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

Update: Major Sports Leagues Submit Briefs to Supreme Court Regarding New Jersey Sports Gambling Case; Outlines Why the PASPA is Constitutional

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by New Jersey to legalize sports gambling. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case and not surprisingly, casino lobbyist pushed forward with there support to legalize sports gambling for all states through the New Jersey case. They are claiming that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) violates the Constitution by making States enforce a Federal law. The Legal Sports Report explains: 

The NCAA and thepro sports leagues argued in their *US Supreme Court brief today that the federal sports betting ban is constitutional. Here is the crux of the leagues’ argument from today’s brief regarding PASPA, the federal law
banning sports betting outside of Nevada:

“PASPA lacks the irreducible minimum of any successful commandeering claim: It does not compel states or state officials to do anything. States are not required to enact laws, to take title to something, to conduct background checks, to consider federal standards, to expend funds, or to enforce federal law. Proving the point, New Jersey fully complied with PASPA for two decades without doing anything.

That is because PASPA only prohibits states from sponsoring,operating, advertising, or promoting sports-gambling schemes, and prohibits states from licensing or authorizing third parties to engage in that conduct. PASPA does not force states to take any affirmative action to comply with those prohibitions.

Thus, while petitioners portray PASPA as an anomalous effort to enlist states to do the federal government’s bidding, the reality is that PASPA is an unremarkable effort to preclude states from engaging in certain conduct and to preempt state laws that license or authorize others to do the same.”

And further:

“But Congress does not commandeer the states just because it limits their policy options, and nothing in the Tenth Amendment prevents Congress from using its commerce power to preempt state laws that contravene federal policy. The difference between permissible preemption and impermissible commandeering is that the former precludes certain state action, while the latter commands it. PASPA falls comfortably in the former, permissible camp.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 10/09 – 10/15

Five years after introduction, study says video gambling leading to crime upticks

September marked the five-year anniversary of video gaming legalization in Illinois. A new report claims that the societal costs of gambling may not be worth the tax revenue. According to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, Illinois received $1.3 billion in revenue from wagering in fiscal year 2017. Video gaming accounted for more than 20 percent of that. As of July 2017, there are 27,145 video gaming machines operating in Illinois. That’s more than any other state, including Nevada. Released in August, the study, titled “Can’t Stop the One-Armed Bandits: The Effects of Access to Gambling on Crime,” found that being near at least one video gambling establishment is associated with an average 6.7 percent increase in property crime and a 7.5 percent spike in violent crime in the areas around Chicago. Despite the fact that video gaming isn’t allowed in Chicago, there are more than 10,000 machines surrounding the city. That’s the equivalent to eight casinos. “Since the time video gambling was adopted, we estimate that it contributed an additional: 119.5 sexual assaults, 322.7 aggravated batteries, 992.7 robberies, 692.2 burglaries, 1,562.3 larcenies, and 1,123.7 motor vehicle thefts,” the study states. “This amounts to a total cost of almost $55.5 million.”

Seventh Circuit affirms Emerald casino executives liable for $272 million

The ruling was the culmination of a legal path stretching back more than 20 years for Emerald Casino, which had an Illinois gaming license to operate in East Dubuque in the state’s far northwest corner. Emerald, a riverboat gaming operation, operated profitably in 1993, but then began to struggle to compete with a new casino across the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa. By early 1996, Emerald had stopped operating a casino and began devoting its time to lobbying the Illinois legislature to pass an act that would allow it to relocate. In the meantime, it had to renew its gaming license. The board voted unanimously to deny Emerald’s renewal application, citing Emerald’s “non‐responsive application,” “inadequate gaming operation,” financial inviability, “significant compliance short‐ comings,” failure to “provide for positive economic development and impact” and general noncompliance with the Riverboat Gambling Act. The defendants also were forced to defend allegations that Emerald was tied to organized crime – a primary concern when the board decided to revoke Emerald’s license. A district court ruling had found the casino executives were on the hook for breach-of-contract claims after the casino tanked. That decision had found each defendant severally liable. In valuing damages, the district court apportioned the $272 million equally among six defendants: John McMahon, Kevin Flynn, Donald Flynn, Kevin Larson, Joseph McQuaid and Walter Hanley.

3 wearing disguises shoot security guard, rob Casino Queen

The heist is the first of its kind at the casino since it opened in 1993, according to Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Mark Doiron. The casino was closed following the robbery, and a security guard was stopping cars from entering the parking lot Sunday morning. In an emailed statement Sunday, the casino said it would reopen when the authorities complete their investigation. Doiron gave this account of what took place at the casino: At 2:51 a.m., three armed men entered the Casino Queen and fired several shots. The three took an undetermined amount of money from registers at a cashier cage. During the heist, an unarmed security guard was shot by one of the robbers. The robbers then fled. The guard was taken to a St. Louis hospital. His condition was not available but authorities said he was stable. Patrons scattered during the chaos, and police were interviewing witnesses and attempting to view video surveillance of the getaway vehicle. “We are trying to figure out who these people are right now,” he said.Police said no patrons were injured. The robbery comes on the heel of protests in St. Louis related to the verdict of Jason Stockley, but authorities said there were no immediately apparent links.

Fired Tulsa banker committed fraud to pay his bookie nearly $200,000, feds say

A former Tulsa banking executive siphoned nearly $200,000 from his employer to pay off gambling debts, federal prosecutors say. Blake Brian Ferguson, 36, was named Tuesday in a four-count criminal information that alleges he paid his gambling debts by committing a variety of fraudulent activities while employed at Firstar Bank N.A., where he was senior vice president. One of the counts alleges that Ferguson caused an $81,000 check to be drawn on a Firstar customer’s account and made payable to Ferguson’s bookie to be presented to another bank. The charging document, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, states that beginning in about 2008 or 2009 Ferguson engaged in gambling activities, which escalated around 2013 “and caused him to accumulate substantial amounts of gambling debt.” To pay off the debt, Ferguson fraudulently caused increases to Firstar customer lines of credit, advances of customer loan proceeds, approvals of customer account overdrafts and draws on funds to enable him to siphon funds illegally from the bank, according to the document.

Ex-Newark watershed director sentenced to 8 years for kickback scheme

The former director of the now-defunct Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison Friday for her role in a $1 million kickback scheme in which she solicited bribes in exchange for no-work or over-inflated contracts. Linda Watkins Brashear, 57, of West Orange, oversaw the agency once tasked with treating and delivering water to northern New Jersey residents and admitted in court she struggled with a gambling addiction during the last few years of her tenure. She previously pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and filing a false income tax return and faced up to 14-17 years behind bars. But her attorney Michael Baldassare argued for leniency based on her substantial cooperation with authorities and her gambling addiction.

Lifestyle, gambling behind most embezzlement

It’s not uncommon for embezzlement to go undetected for years, according to a 2016 study of more than 2,000 major embezzlement cases reviewed by Marquet International, a Massachusetts litigation and security consulting firm. Women are twice as likely to embezzle but men steal twice as much as female workers, said the study that listed the desire for a more lavish lifestyle and gambling addiction as the two major causes of work-related theft. The opportunity to take money and a lack of oversight are common elements of embezzlement, said the LeRoy lawyer. “Nobody ever expects it will happen to them.”

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

A New form of Gambling in Video Games? What are Loot Boxes and Why is the Gaming Community asking the ESRB to Call this Gambling Practice Out?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the highly addictive principle of near misses and how this form of gambling forms strong addiction. Typically viewed in the context of regulated slot machines, the player pulls the lever and tries to line enough symbols up in a row to get a prize. Studies have indicated that when someone gets close but doesn’t win, what they call a near miss in the industry, the player will chase the win. A very similar phenomenon is now taking place in video games. The concept in the gaming world is known as a loot box. You pay a price to manufacture to by a box. Random items that a player would want to have in the game, say, a high powered weapon in a shooting game or a piece of defensive armor that models a coveted look and offers superior protection from other players, are generated when the loot box is opened. The key is that the items are random. Most players are looking for top end, often times called legendary gear. The odds of getting them aren’t too high and so a player tends to keep paying more and more money to open more and more loot boxes chasing after the win, or the best items in the game. This practice was identified very early as a form of gambling and a gaming mechanic that uses the same psychological techniques to addict players. The worst part, they are in games marketed toward children and no regulation exists. The highest level, state or federal laws, are completely none existent, so many in the community turned to the ESRB rating system to get these games classified as mature, so that young kids and teens aren’t the target of such gambling practices. As reported by Forbes, ESRB has erred in declining to view loot boxes as gambling, and social awareness is very much need to properly protect players:

Today, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, stated publicly that the hot new monetization trend in video games, loot boxes, don’t qualify as gambling. This is wrong on many levels. While it’s true that, unlike a slot machine, a loot box will always result in some form of a prize, that doesn’t change the fact that the simple act of opening loot boxes is incredibly similar to gambling, and taps into all the same parts of the brain.

“The player is basically working for reward by making a series of responses, but the rewards are delivered unpredictably,” Dr. Luke Clark, director at the Center for Gambling Research at the University of British Columbia, told PC Gamer recently “We know that the dopamine system, which is targeted by drugs of abuse, is also very interested in unpredictable rewards. Dopamine cells are most active when there is maximum uncertainty, and the dopamine system responds more to an uncertain reward than the same reward delivered on a predictable basis.”

Psychologists call this “variable rate reinforcement.” Essentially, the brain kicks into high gear when you’re opening a loot box or pulling the lever on a slot machine or opening a Christmas present because the outcome is uncertain. This is exciting and, for many people, addictive. When it comes to video games, the biggest concern is that children and adolescents will end up forming addictive behaviors early on.

At this point there are two issues/lines of thought at play. One is that the act of buying a loot box and opening it might not be technically gambling because you always get a prize. To this point, its pointed out above that the act of chasing loot boxes is exactly the same as gambling. More importantly though, some games do allow the players to sell or auction off the items received in exchange for real world money, items or game subscription, things with real world value. Eurogamer very specifically outlines the many ways in their recent article when they discuss both the US ESRB and European’s PEGI stance on loot boxes. So in that sense the player is putting real money into the game, opening the box and getting a price based on random chance not skill, and then cashing out the winnings, which is text book gambling. The Second line of thought is that regardless of whether or not this reaches the threashold for actual gambling that requires governmental oversight, it absolutely should get the ESRB’s attention and it should be disclosed to players and parents accordingly. Forbs continues:

“Look if you include these kind of mechanics in these games and you actually allow people to buy these packs for real money, these random blind packs and engage in what is essentially a form of gambling, then you should be jacking the rating of your game up to Mature.

“The fact that [Star Wars] /Battlefront II/ is going to be Teen rated and yet has an in-game real money gambling system blows my mind. How are they possibly getting away with that? Well, the answer is that the US government and legislation hasn’t caught up with it yet.”

OpenCritic co-founder and CEO Matthew Enthoven says that the ESRB’s response “kind of ducked the issue” calling it a semantic argument. “You can call it gambling, you can call it gaming addiction, you can call it whatever you want. The problem is still the same,” he tells me. 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 10/02 – 10/08

Man Ordered to Pay Back Money Stolen From Gambling Pal He Dismembered

Ming Jiang, who dismembered his friend’s body and dumped his torso in a suitcase, _*is refusing to leave his cell Jiang was ordered to pay back the tens of thousands of pounds he stole from his victim. Jiang, a professional fraudster, was sentenced to life for the brutal murder of his gambling pal Yang Liu at his flat in Beswick then dumping his torso in a suitcase found burned in a lay-by next to the A628 near Tintwistle in Derbyshire. The victim’s limbs were never recovered. The savage killer then stole Mr Liu’sidentity and attempted to steal money and assets in order to pay off his gambling debts totalling nearly £275,000. He was ordered to pay £48,188 by Judge John Potter within three months or risk another 12 months being added to his sentence.

Gambling Addict brutally murdered his two children in failed murder suicide

Kathleen, from Bagnelstown, Co Carlow, revealed she uncovered an email and suspected suicide note penned by the fiend urging their loved ones to “raise a glass to Kathleen and the boys”. Gardai believe the gambling addict wrote the sinister message over fears his €56,000 embezzlement scam of a local community would be uncovered. And just days after his fraud came to light, the killer drove his children to Mayo before murdering them and dumping their bodies in the boot of his car. He was later arrested after he failed in a bid to kill himself by driving his Ford Focus into a wall. Speaking exclusively to the Irish Sun on the fourth anniversary of the horrific double murder, a distraught Kathleen confirmed her plans to divorce the child-killer.

‘Boomer and Carton’ radio host Craig Carton arrested

Sports radio host Craig Carton was arrested Wednesday on fraud charges alleging he operated a Ponzi scheme and engaged in a ticket-selling scam that raised over $5 million, partly to repay millions of dollars in gambling debts. Conspiracy, securities and wire fraud charges were unsealed in Manhattan federal court against the host of WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton” show. He was arrested at his Manhattan home before dawn, before he was scheduled to go on air, authorities said. In a related civil case, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Carton in mid-2016 solicited investments in ticket reselling enterprises after he accrued millions of dollars’ worth of gambling-related debts to casinos and other third parties. The SEC said he provided fabricated and forged documents to investors, claiming access to large quantities of face-value tickets to upcoming concerts by artists including Adele, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Roger Waters, Metallica, and Barbra Streisand.

Former financial adviser to Mike Tyson and Glen Rice sentenced for embezzling $1 million

Brian J. Ourand, 56, a former executive with a Washington, D.C.-based management group owned by Live Nation Entertainment, pleaded guilty in federal court in February to one count of wire fraud and agreed to pay back $1 million that he embezzled from Tyson, Rice and two other athletes and spent on personal services, travel, dining and gambling debts, among other purchases. “All I can say is I am sorry for the pain, shame and embarrassment that I caused for the clients, and for family and friends,” said Ourand now of Chicago. His defense had sought a sentence of one year, citing letters of support from family members, colleagues, friends, teachers and another client, basketball player Rod Strickland. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan disagreed, saying, “the position of trust that you abused,” the nature of the offense, Ourand’s relatively privileged background “and the egregious manner in which you stole from clients merits a higher sentence.”

Attorney general Shapiro announces arrests in Westmoreland, Fayette video poker machine scheme

Two Scottdale men face charges related to 126 illegal video poker machines seized from 25 bars in Westmoreland and Fayette counties, according to state Attorney General Josh Shapiro. James Tartal, 54, and Edward DeLuca, 50, both of Scottdale, are charged with operating a corrupt organization, conspiracy, possession of illegal gambling devices and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities. The pair operated Zucco Vending, according to the attorney general’s office, placing poker machines in bars throughout the two counties and allegedly paying out illegal winnings in the fall of 2014. Undercover agents played the machines and received payouts, according to a release from Shapiro’s office. In addition to payouts, the machines also violate state law by being equipped with internal “knock off” devices that erase a player’s credits following a payout. Investigators seized $312,000 in cash from a safe in a hidden room in Tartal’s home. Investigators seized another $84,000 in cash from a warehouse in Scottdale. And, a total of $241,422 in five bank accounts controlled by Zucco Vending at PNC Bank were frozen by police. PNC Bank was responsive to law enforcement’s requests for information.

Celebrity Art Dealer Jonathan Poole Jailed After Stealing $668,000 Worth Of Art

An art dealer who was most known for fraternizing with artists, celebrities, rock stars, supermodels, and business elites has been jailed for stealing various forms of artwork over thirty years, including paintings and sculptures. The 69-year-old Jonathan Poole was put in prison for four years after being compared to the famous villain from the film “The Thomas Crown Affair.” Poole worked out of two separate galleries throughout his life and specialized in selling artwork created by stars like Miles Davis, John Lennon, and former Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. According to the prosecutors of the case, Poole is believed to have used the money to fund gambling problems, service debts, or for a possible retirement fund. Jonathan pleaded guilty to twenty-six different offenses including fraud against nine different people and the artwork in total was over $668,000.

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

Update: Florida Voters in Charge Amendment Half Way to Signature Goal and more Backing from Disney

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to pass the Voters in Charge Ballot Initiative in Florida. The ballot measure seeks to add a constitutional amendment that requires a final vote of the people prior to any gambling legislation being implemented. So far the petition has passed all the normal steps on its way being on the ballot, including a look by the Supreme Court. Its now being reported that more than half the required signatures have been gathered and Disney is continuing to lend its support to this important ballot measure by contributing another $575 thousand to the efforts. Florida Politics reports:

A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at limiting gambling’s expansion in the state now has more than 600,000 signatures, its backers said Monday. Voters in Charge, the political committee behind the amendment, said it’s “over halfway towards its goal of gathering 1.1 million signatures in order to reach the required number of 766,200 valid petitions to appear on the 2018 General Election ballot.”

“Tens of thousands of Floridians are signing our petition each week and we are on track to accomplish our goal of securing enough signatures for ballot placement by year’s end,” said *John Sowinski*, chairman of Voters in Charge.

“We look forward to being on the 2018 ballot, mounting an aggressive statewide campaign and returning the ultimate authority to approve casino gambling to the people of Florida where it belongs,” Sowinski said in a statement.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 09/25 – 10/01

Father, son plead guilty to running illegal sports betting ring out of San Diego card room

A father and son accused of running a bookmaking operation out of the Lucky Lady Casino and Card Room on El Cajon Boulevard pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court Tuesday to a racketeering conspiracy. Segal’s son, Sydney Segal, 34, was an employee who managed the cage at the casino and admitted to co-mingling the illegal wagers with the card room’s legal profits, according to the plea agreement. He further admitted to acting as the operation’s bookkeeper, keeping a record of winning and losing bets. The indictment alleges the operation generated nearly $1 million in profits. Sanders Segal received 10 percent of profits in the enterprise, he admitted.

Teen Sitter, Her Mom and Beau Abandoned Infant at NY Casino

A 14-year-old babysitter, her 16-year-old boyfriend and the sitter’s 44-year-old mother have been arrested after allegedly abandoning a 9-month-old child at a Long Island casino. Authorities say the infant’s mother hired the teenage sitter, who claimed to be 18, from a childcare website on Monday. The mother didn’t arrive to pick her baby up at the pre-designated time, and the trio called police around 6:40 p.m. When cops got to the home in Ronkonkoma, police say the caregivers said they had resolved the issue and had arranged to meet the baby’s mother.

The sitter’s mother, Dejuana Stewart, and her daughter, who live in Ronkonkoma, along with the teenager’s 16-year-old boyfriend, who lives in Brooklyn, arranged to meet the baby’s mother at Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino in Islandia. But there was an argument about pick-up arrangements and payment, and the trio ended up leaving the baby in a carrier on a bench outside, according to police. The teenage boyfriend was the one who left the carrier, police say. He initially walked back to the car, but then went back to the bench, picked up the baby and brought the child inside to a security guard, officials say. The boyfriend told security he found the baby outside, police say. He then went back outside and drove off with his girlfriend and her mom.

Online gambling firm 888 hit with record £7.8m penalty

The Gambling Commission said there were “significant flaws” in the firm’s social responsibility processes. The regulator highlighted a technical failure which meant 7,000 customers who had chosen to bar themselves from their 888 accounts were still able to gamble. Another customer bet more than £1.3m over 13 months before he was identified as having a problem. The Gambling Commission said “the lack of interaction with the customer, given the frequency, duration and sums of money involved in the gambling, raised serious concerns about 888’s safeguarding of customers at-risk of gambling harm”. The chief executive of rival betting company Ladbrokes Coral told the BBC that the whole sector was in the process of learning how best to manage the problem of vulnerable gamblers. “We have a responsibility to look after our customers. Ladbrokes Coral are also on that journey and there are issues that we’ve found in the past. But we are working with the Gambling Commission,” said Jim Mullen.

Arizona man accused of stealing $711K in taxes from clients

An Arizona man has been indicted for allegedly stealing more than $700,000 in federal employment taxes from Phoenix-area businesses over a two-year period. Internal Revenue Service officials say John Chandler Propstra is accused of tax evasion and is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 13 in U.S. District Court in Phoenix. Authorities say Propstra owned and operated entities that acted as outsourced human resources departments for his small- and medium-sized business clients who didn’t want to handle payroll or other functions internally. Investigators say Propstra failed to pay the IRS nearly $711,000 in employment taxes from his clients’ businesses in tax years 2010 and 2011. They say Propstra spent most of the money on trips to Hawaii and Las Vegas, gambling online and at casinos, jewelry and tickets to sporting events.

Men posed as law enforcement before killing Kissimmee man

Osceola County deputies said two suspects accused of shooting and killing a Kissimmee man posed as law enforcement officers before robbing the victim. Darvis Houston was shot and killed in March at an illegal after-hours gambling location, deputies said. Investigators said two masked men, now identified as Chrisson Nicolaas, 31, and Christopher Brooks, 30, walked into Versatile Motor Sports on Michigan Avenue after posing as law enforcement officers and robbed Houston. Police said the men dressed in generic police gear. A struggle ensued and Houston was shot and killed, deputies said.

Bookkeeper who stole more than $1 million gets prison term

A bookkeeper who stole more than $1 million from her former employer to fuel her addictions is now headed to state prison. Virginia DeBerri received a six-year sentence on Friday. The 53-year-old Brick woman had pleaded guilty in January to theft by unlawful taking. Monmouth County prosecutors say DeBerri wrote herself more than 500 unauthorized company checks over a five-year period and deposited them into her personal bank account. She also increased her own salary by manipulating the company’s payroll without authorization. DeBerri’s attorney said his client has long struggled with Xanax, alcohol and gambling addictions and used the stolen money to finance those addictions.

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