A Brief Look at Crime 05/14 – 05/20

‘Losing Streak Lois’ had apparent gambling addiction, police say 

The motive still isn’t clear as to why Lois Riess ended up on Fort Myers Beach, who was eventually accused of killing Pamela Hutchinson, stealing her money, ID and car. But her family says she had a problem with gambling—even stealing money from her own family to do so. “The addiction is still there. She had to find a way to get money—and she hurt someone here in our community,” said FGCU clinical coordinator Yaro Garcia. Riess is a mother from Minnesota, now wanted for two murders—of Hutchinson and her husband. “Riess’ mode of operation is to befriend women who resemble her and steal her identity,” said Undersheriff Carmine Marceno with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. She’s still on the run, and was last spotted in Texas after fleeing Florida. The day after allegedly killing her husband, Riess was spotted at a casino. Police say her gambling addiction tore her family apart. Minnesota news outlets report that in 2016, Riess stole over $100,000 from her sister. She was ordered to pay it back, but never did. Garcia says it’s likely to have pushed Riess over the edge. “The extreme, maybe killing a person, maybe stealing an identity, doing whatever it takes to gamble one more time,” Garcia said. Garcia says that a gambling addiction could explain Riess’ alleged killing of Hutchinson on Fort Myers Beach. “Ms. Hutchinson’s purse was found to be in disarray, and all cash, credit cards and identification appeared to be removed,” Marceno said. “What happens to people who have this type of addiction is almost the same as a heroin addict or any other drug. It’s just as powerful,” Garcia added.

More Than 1,000 Birds Seized in Lancaster in Illegal Cockfighting Investigation

Officials in Lancaster confiscated more than 1,000 fowls they believed were being used for illegal cockfighting, authorities announced on Wednesday. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it served a search warrant on a location on the 6300 block of East Avenue E on Monday. Officers were investigating an animal cruelty case concerning the breeding and fighting of game fowl. Crews from the L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control, with help from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, examined the animals at the scene and confiscated them. “Rooster handlers, or ‘cock fighters,’ often allow birds who suffer injuries during fights to go untreated or throw the birds in the trash,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. “Having animals fight to death along with letting them go untreated is not only cruel but often times goes hand-in-hand with gambling, drug-dealing and other illegal activities.”

Man defrauded investment customers of millions

A New Jersey man has admitted operating a long-running scheme to defraud investment clients out of millions of dollars. Scott Newsholme pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and preparing fraudulent tax returns. The 43-year-old Farmingdale man faces up to 25 years in prison when he’s sentenced July 19. Federal prosecutors say Newsholme has owned and operated at least three different financial advisory and tax return preparation businesses since 2002. Authorities say that between 2007 and 2017, he recommended to multiple clients that they give him money for various investments. He then allegedly used that money for personal expenses, including multiple vehicles, bedroom furniture and debits at casinos. Newsholme misappropriated more than $3.1 million from his clients, resulting in net investment losses of more than $1.8 million.

Virginia business owner must pay back $4M for fraud scheme

A Virginia business owner who spent business loans on personal expenses, including his rock band, will pay more than $4 million in restitution, in addition serving a 10-year federal prison sentence. The Virginian-Pilot cites a U.S. Department of Justice release that says 58-year-old Edward Zinner was sentenced Thursday in connection with a fraud scheme. The release says he operated Ocean Equity, a collection of businesses that engaged in credit card processing and merchant cash advances, through which he provided false representation to obtain more than $4.5 million. He also obtained six business loans worth $3 million that he spent on personal expenses, including gambling and his TGZ Band. When Zinner closed his business in 2016, he still owed $3.9 million to investors. He pleaded guilty to money laundering in October.

Barnes must repay embezzled school money 

Paula Barnes, 61, was sentenced on Thursday to 30 days in the Anderson County Jail and 10 years’ probation for embezzling $111,000 from the Palestine Independent School District in 2015 and 2016. Judge Deborah Oaks Evans, of the 87th District Court, ruled that Barnes must pay the money back, in addition to court fines. She also must perform 400 hours of community service. “I am so remorseful for everything I’ve done,” a visibly distraught Barnes said on the witness stand. The investigation began in March 2016, when another employee reported a discrepancy in funds. In June, Barnes confessed to ISD officials that she was garnering cash from the activity deposits in the amount of $60,000 to $80,000. An external auditing firm confirmed the theft in August 2016. Barnes was arrested in January 2017 for theft of greater than $30,000 but less than $150,000 and released on bond. DA Allyson Mitchell presented evidence of checks written to Jason Barnes in various amounts, ranging from $200 to $26,000. Jason Barnes was not present at the hearing, but the defense stated he had a gambling problem.

Dutchess man pleads guilty to embezzling over $2.5 million from former employer 

A Pleasant Valley man, who worked as the comptroller for two companies, pled guilty this week to federal charges of mail fraud and tax evasion. When sentenced in August, Mark Cina, 56, agreed to pay $2.5 million in restitution to the two companies – Atlantis Energy Systems, Inc. and Business Technology Corporation. Cina allegedly used the money he embezzled for gambling, to pay rent, drive rented cars, dine out, get his car washed, bail out an arrestee, and pay a phone charge for an inmate’s call. The attorney for the two companies, Michael Pollok, said Thursday that his firm has now filed a related lawsuit. “We have filed a civil law suit on behalf of our clients against D’Arcangelo & Company for their involvement with Mark Cina. John J. Cina, Jr., also known as Jack Cina of the accounting firm of D’Arcangelo & Company is Mark Cina’s brother and named in the civil law suit because he was entrusted with our client’s financial information and tax preparation during the relevant time periods. That trust was breached when the principal of the victim companies was stricken by illness and the fraud perpetrated.” 

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