A Brief Look at Crime 09/17 – 09/23

Former Rapides DA bookkeeper sentenced to prison after thefts

Margaurette Beard suffers from a gambling addiction and, when the urge to roll the dice hit, she’d reach into a desk drawer, scoop out some cash and go to a casino. The trouble is, the cash she used didn’t belong to her. On Tuesday, the former Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office bookkeeper was sentenced to 37 months — three years and a month — in federal prison for stealing more than $1.6 million from the office. She pleaded guilty in late March to one count of misuse of federal funds. Charges against her in the 9th Judicial District Court are still pending, as is a civil lawsuit. Beard tearfully apologized to the court before U.S. Judge Dee Drell sentenced her. She also apologized her to family, friends and the community “for all the wrong I’ve done.” Higgins argued before Drell that Beard’s scheme was not sophisticated, although the government disagreed. Higgins said Beard stole solely to feed her gambling addiction.

Thai Police Arrest 4,700, Seize $35M During Illegal World Cup Gaming

Thailand has a large gambling problem. Currently, there are only two forms of gaming allowed– horse racing and the Thai lottery. However, there are many different types of gaming that exist all over the country. For example, illegal casinos are predominantly in Bangkok and cater to the tourist trade. Thailand is trying to crack down on illegal gambling in the country because the government does not profit from it, and the leadership in Thailand considers gambling to be a vice. However, the most recent and largest problem has been with the use of illegal online gaming and sportsbooks. The Thai police have been focused on sportsbooks in the last month because of the World Cup, which represented the largest amount of money spent on sports gaming in the country in the last three years. The largest and most recent raid by the Thai police on illegal sportsbooks resulted in the arrest of 4,700 people. The police initially seized $200,000 baht in the raid. However, in their research into the activities of the sportsbook, the police found 147 bank accounts tied to the sportsbook that had deposits of more than $35 million. The police think that some of the money was being laundered by the sportsbooks for drug cartels in Asia.The Thai police have shown they are serious about cracking down on illegal sportsbooks.

Minutes after leaving St. Louis casino with two men, California man is found fatally shot

Two men were charged Thursday with murder in the shooting of a man from California who they were seen leaving a casino with and then turned up fatally shot and only partially clothed minutes later, court documents say. The Hayward, Calif., man was found dead early Monday after an automated gunfire-detection system picked up the sound of shots in the O’Fallon neighborhood. His body, clad in only underwear and socks, was near a vacant home in the 4400 block of Athlone Avenue. He had been shot multiple times. Court documents say security video from Lumiere Casino in downtown St. Louis showed Owen was there for several hours early Monday. At about 5 a.m., he cashed out about $400 in winnings and left in a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu with Steed and Lathon. At 5:23 a.m., the “Shot Spotter” alerted police to gunfire and Owen’s body was soon found. Two days later, Lathon, 26, was spotted driving the Malibu, the court documents say. A gun was found in the car. Lathon told a detective that he had left the casino with Owen but was paid $40 to drop him off somewhere.

Bookkeeper who defrauded Chicago film studio of $1.6M gets four years in prison

Margarita Shabazz admitted last fall that she bilked her employers — a Chicago video production company and an advertising agency — out of more than $2 million. After she bonded out of jail, she got a new job — and she stole some more, according to federal prosecutors. “You’re really good at gaming the system,” U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis told Shabazz before sentencing her to four years in prison Friday afternoon at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. “You seem to have this impulsive desire to see how far you can get away with things.” It started in 2009 while Shabazz was working as a bookkeeper for the ad agency. For two years, Shabazz cut 39 company checks to herself or her own companies, recording them as payments to vendors while she raked in nearly $350,000. The scheme netted her more than $2 million that she used to fund a glamorous lifestyle for herself, her husband and two children, prosecutors said. About a third of that — $550,000 — funded drug and gambling habits, according to prosecutors.

Fayetteville man guilty of gun crimes planned to prostitute woman for gambling loss

A Fayetteville man who planned to prostitute his girlfriend to offset his gambling losses was sentenced Tuesday for two firearm violations last year, the federal officials said. In May, Joseph Luther Lewis, 29, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a stolen firearm. He was sentenced to 12.8 years of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release, according to a news release from the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The firearm charges stemmed from an incident on June 25, 2017, when Lewis’ girlfriend told officials she was being blamed by Lewis for his gambling loss. “Lewis, armed with a handgun, traveled from Fayetteville to Robeson County and forcibly abducted her, and took her to a vacant house in Fayetteville, where Lewis planned to prostitute her to recoup his money.” Before arriving at the vacant house, the girlfriend jumped from the moving car, but Lewis forced her back inside at gunpoint, officials say. “Lewis kicked and punched her in the face several times,” the news release said. “When (police) arrived at the vacant residence, her face was visibly swollen. She had a chipped tooth and scrapes on her nose and mouth, as well as abrasions to her feet, legs, and arms.”

Man arrested, accused of killing teen during gamblers’ fight in Atlanta 

A man accused of fatally shooting a teenager during an argument while gambling was arrested, Atlanta police confirmed. Andrew Dontavious Glass remained in the Fulton County jail Wednesday on murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery charges in the July 14 shooting in the 1200 block of Elizabeth Avenue in southwest Atlanta, police said. Authorities said they found the teen — identified by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office as Stacey Monts, 17, of East Point —in the kitchen dead from a gunshot wound. A man was found in the living with a gunshot wound to the buttocks. A second man who was shot was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.

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