Daily Archives: October 23, 2017

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