A Brief Look at Crime 10/22 – 11/04

Man who fatally punched Reno casino worker guilty of murder

A man with an extensive criminal history who fatally punched a Reno casino employee while trying to flee with gambling chips stolen from a blackjack table has been convicted of first-degree murder. A Washoe County jury found 65-year-old Frederick Borden guilty Thursday of murder, robbery and fraud in the Sept. 30, 2016 incident at the Eldorado casino. He also pleaded guilty Tuesday to grand larceny. Prosecutors say Boden was playing blackjack when he lost a bet and abruptly grabbed the chips he wagered and started to walk out of the building. An assistant shift manager, 52-year-old James Bryant, confronted him but Borden punched Bryant in the face. Bryant collapsed on the floor and was taken to a Reno hospital where died the next day.

$364M Ponzi scheme funded 3 men’s luxury lifestyles including $25M on casino gambling

Three men were indicted Wednesday for allegedly victimizing hundreds of people across the U.S. in a $364 million Ponzi scheme. Kevin Merrill, 53, of Maryland; Jay Ledford, 54, of Texas and Nevada; and Cameron Jezierski, 28, of Texas, were charged by federal prosecutors for an alleged scheme that dates back to January 2013. According to the U.S. Attorney Office for the District of Maryland, Merrill and Ledford invited people to buy consumer debt portfolios and falsely claimed that they’d profit from the debt payments. “Most of these investors are just learning that they have been victimized,” U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said in a news release. “The effects of this kind of fraud can be devastating.” The men concealed their diversion of $73 million in investors funds to host a “lavish lifestyle,” which included purchasing multiple properties, jewelry, more than 20 high-end cars and a boat, the attorney’s office alleged. The trio also allegedly spent some $25 million to gamble in casinos. Merrill, Ledford and Jezierski have been arrested and face a slew of charges, including conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering.

Former Hudson Valley Comptroller Embezzled $2.5 Million

A Hudson Valley man, employed by two local companies, embezzled over $2.5 million to fund his gambling and more. On Thursday, Mark Cina, 56, of Poughkeepsie was sentenced to 41 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion. “Mark Cina embezzled millions of dollars to line his pockets at the great expense and suffering of his trusting employer, a Hudson Valley entrepreneur and small businessman,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a press release. “Theft like the defendant’s is intolerable, and today’s sentencing shows that an employee’s choice to engage in such a crime is a choice to go to prison.” One company’s work included a solar-powered ring of lights encircling the top of MetLife Stadium. The other local company molded plastic. Cina had authority to sign checks for the companies and use the companies’ credit cards and ATM cards, officials say. Cina used stolen funds to gamble, pay his rent, drive rental cars, dine out, get his car washed, bail out an arrestee and pay a phone charge for an inmate’s call, court documents alleged.

Man dies of injuries from fight at Graton Casino

The Santa Rosa man who was attacked earlier this month at the Graton Casino has died of his injuries, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday. Sheriff’s officials identified the victim as Dondiego Hermilo Andrade, 55. But a member of Andrade’s extended family said he went by the name of Milo and that he was a longtime employee of Santa Rosa Junior College. The family member, who asked that his name not be used, described Andrade as a hardworking man and the sole breadwinner in his family. He said Andrade’s death has devastated the family. Morgan Lewis Jr., 44, of Lake County, was arrested after the violent altercation in the casino parking lot. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Lewis got into an argument with several men after the door of the SUV they were in struck his truck. Deputies arrived at the parking lot at 11:36 p.m. Sept. 15, but the fight already had ended. The Sheriff’s Office said deputies left the scene at 12:03 a.m. Sept. 16, but they were called back 10 minutes later after a report of another fight. Lori Nelson, a spokeswoman for Las Vegas-based Station Casinos, which operates the Graton Resort and Casino, could not be reached Sunday for comment.

Crooked Dealer Helped Players Cheat Casino for $1Million by Photographing Cards

If Phil Ivey’s infamous Baccarat edge-sorting schemes can be considered a bit unethical at best, then the dealer who helped scam a Maryland Casino out of over $1million has taken things a huge step further – pleading guilty to allowing players to photograph some of the cards… Ming Zhang, a Baccarat dealer from Alexandria, Virginia, now faces up to five years in prison for ‘one count of conspiring to transport stolen funds’, admitting to being paid by his card-cheating ‘conspirators’, according to Associated Press reports. Whereas Phil Ivey and his accomplice merely agreed rules with the casino which allowed them to ask their specially-chosen dealer to twist and turn the cards in various directions, in order for the patterns on the back to be read, Zhang’s case saw him expose the deck while a player actually photographed the cards.

The casino involved, believed to be the MGM National Harbor although it was not named in the court hearing, lost $1,046,560 as a result of the cheating last year, the players placing large bets at significant times using their dealer-fed knowledge of the decks. Assistant US Attorney Erin Pulice claimed that Baccarat players can predict the outcome “with near-perfect accuracy” if they know the order of cards in a deck. In Ivey’s case, winnings totalling around $20million were accrued between his infamous Crockford’s and Borgata edge-sorting visits, the courts in both sides of the Atlantic siding with the casinos. Ivey’s case, of course, in no way involved criminal behaviour – Zhang, on the other hand, was apparently involved in another similar cheating theft at a different Maryland casino last year, Zhang taking a payment of $1,000 and allegedly asking for more, before investigators confronted him about the dastardly scheme.

Couple charged in theft of more than $800,000 from Arizona water district

A husband and wife have been indicted on charges of conspiring with another man to embezzle $829,400 from the Silver Creek Irrigation District in northeast Arizona, the Navajo County’s Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday. The district manages water storage and conservation projects for 3,000 acres in the Snowflake, Taylor and Shumway communities in Navajo County. The Navajo County Attorney’s Office, with the assistance of the Office of the Arizona Auditor General, conducted an investigation into records from August 2011 to December 2016. The investigation revealed Palmer wrote 546 Irrigation District checks to cash and gave them to Margaret Rogers, according to the Sheriff’s Office and Auditor General’s Office. Investigators said they could not determine the specific use of the money because it was in cash, but available records showed the money was most likely used for the couple’s personal expenses and Margaret Rogers’ gambling activity.

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