A Brief Look at Crime 05/07 – 05/13

Man Charged With Decapitating Gambler Now Faces Witness Tampering Charges

One of two men charged with decapitating an individual they met at a casino is now accused of witness tampering. Donald Ray Cherry, 31, was charged on March 16 with intimidation and tampering with witnesses or informants, both felonies that can result in an addition 20 year prison sentence. Cherry and co-defendant Jeffrey Glen Haverty, 33, met the victim, Myron Wesley Knight, 41, at the Montana Lil’s Casino in November. Knight gave a casino employee his $120 in winnings to hold on to out of fear the two men were going to rob him. Knight’s body was later found, decapitated, three weeks later at a campsite. Authorities determined he had been beaten with a blunt force object prior to the decapitation but that he was likely still alive at the time. Cherry’s girlfriend told police she witnessed Haverty cutting Knight’s head off before Cherry took over. According to the latest court filing, Knight is accused of telling his girlfriend to lie about what she saw and warning that she might also be implicated in the crime. The witness claims she arrived at the scene of the gruesome crime as it was in progress.

Genovese crime family associate convicted of racketeering, murder conspiracy

An associate of the Genovese crime family was convicted of racketeering and murder conspiracy for an attempted hit on a Whitestone man, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said. Salvatore Delligatti, 40, was found guilty in Manhattan federal court last week on all counts of racketeering conspiracy, murder-for-hire conspiracy, participation in an illegal gambling operation, and a firearms offense following a three-week jury trial. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison in August. Delligatti committed all his crimes in order to increase his standing in the Genovese family, according to Berman. From about 2013 through 2015, Delligatti, DeBello and Ellis were involved in a large-scale bookmaking and sports betting operation that took bets from gamblers in Manhattan and Queens, while making use of an offshore wire room, according to prosecutors. During the gambling operation, Delligatti and Ellis brought envelopes filled with cash to DeBello. Delligatti’s co-defendants, DeBello and Ellis, previously pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy offenses for their roles in the murder conspiracy, the extortion conspiracy, and the illegal gambling operation, prosecutors said.

Pellet gun-waving man inside Montana casino shot, killed by police 

A police officer shot and killed a man who was waving a pellet gun and threatening patrons inside a casino early Tuesday — the second fatal shooting by officers in Montana’s largest city in less than 24 hours. The 44-year-old man was being sought by police in the lead-up to his death. His ex-wife reported earlier that he showed up at her house, banged on her door and windows and told her he was going to rob a casino, Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said. Less than an hour later, the man was seen entering Lucky Lil’s casino just before 1:30 a.m. Two officers broke a window to enter the locked building, where Sgt. Bret Becker shot the man multiple times with an AR-15 assault rifle after the suspect refused to drop the gun and said he had taken hostages, St. John said. It was unknown whether the man fired the pellet gun, which Becker had believed to be a firearm, St. John said. The suspect’s identity was not immediately made public pending notification of relatives. St. John said the man was “known to the police” but provided no further details. His ex-wife told police that he may have taken opiates prior to Tuesday’s confrontation and St. John said toxicological tests on the man were planned.

New Freedom woman blames gambling addiction for embezzling $4.3 million from her employer

A New Freedom woman has been sentenced to 71 months in prison for embezzling $4.3 million from her employer, according to a news release. Donna Wozniak, 57, pleaded guilty in August 2017 to embezzlement in connection with healthcare and tax evasion, the news release states. She was a business manager for Susquehanna Valley Surgery Center in Dauphin County for 14 years. Wozniak said during sentencing that she stole the money because she has a gambling addiction. She was fired from her job in November 2014 after admitting that she stole the money, the news release states. United States District Court Judge John E. Jones III sentenced her on Tuesday to 71 months behind bars and three years of supervised release. Wozniak’s job was to review invoices and pay vendors. A forensic audit showed that she would make a portion of the signed blank checks payable to herself, and she cashed or deposited them using multiple bank accounts, the news release states. She then falsified the records, showing that the money went to the vendors. “All income is taxable, no matter what the source of the income,” Guy Ficco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation, said in a news release. “Today’s sentencing should serve as a deterrent to others who might consider attempting a similar scheme in the future.”

After losing at poker, bank robber gambled on trip to North KC casino

A Kansas City man who was arrested at Harrah’s Casino in North Kansas City has pleaded guilty to the January robbery of a bank in Bonner Springs. Timothy Karpovich, 39, admitted in federal court Tuesday that he robbed the KCB bank in Bonner Springs on Jan. 22. After the FBI released bank surveillance photos of the robber, tipsters identified Karpovich as the robber, and then the FBI learned that he was a regular customer at the casino. Later that night, while FBI agents were speaking to employees about Karpovich, he returned to the casino and was arrested. He admitted to agents that he robbed the bank. He said he decided to commit the robbery after losing all of his money a few days earlier playing poker.

Gambling Parlor Bouncer Shot Dead, Killer Sentenced

The man who shot a bouncer who wouldn’t let him inside an illegal Brooklyn gambling parlor has been sentenced to at least 20 years in prison, prosecutors announced Wednesday. Crown Heights man Euzebelin Abellard, 35, could face a life sentence for the murder of Jean Claude Bernagene, a worker in an East Flatbush gambling parlor, in November 2015, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. Abellard tried to sneak into the basement parlor on New York Avenue by hiding behind a regular customer, but was stopped by Bernagene, 51, on Nov. 20 at about 5:30 p.m., prosecutors said. That’s when Abellard pulled out a gun, told the bouncer in Creole that he would shoot him, then shot him in the torso and hand, prosecutors said. The wounded Bernagene chased his shooter out onto the street before he collapsed, prosecutors said. Police officers found the parlor worker lying on the street and emergency responders rushed him to Kings County Hospital, where he died two days later, prosecutors said.

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