Sylvester Zottola, a reputed mob associate of the Bonanno family in New York who operated Joker Poker gambling machines for the criminal enterprise, was shot dead this week at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the Bronx. Zottola, 71 at the time of his murder, facilitated the Joker Poker terminals along with his adult son in the 1990s and 2000s, according to court reports. Thursday evening’s shooting is the latest in a series of hits on Sylvester and his 41-year-old son Salvatore. Joker Poker, also known as Kings or Better and Joker’s Wild, is a variety of video poker where a single joker is introduced and a gambler’s hand must consist of a pair of kings or better to win. The mob and gambling have a long and well-documented relationship. In the 1930s and 40s, numerous businessmen with ties to the mob were responsible for pinpointing what was then a largely vacant Nevada desert to begin building the gambling mecca that would become Las Vegas as it’s known today.
A San Antonio business executive who embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from his employer was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday as part of a plea deal with Bexar County prosecutors. Victim impact letters entered as evidence in the case confirm that Martinez, who worked as the controller of the Southern Folger Detention Equipment Company from January 2012 to May 2014, used money acquired from stealing checks and creating fake invoices to pay for lavish trips to Las Vegas, gambling and to hire male prostitutes. Halloran said he was forced to eliminate more than 10 positions through two rounds of layoffs and had to temporarily suspend the company’s profit-sharing program.
An Arizona man is facing federal charges in connection with the sexual assault of a woman at a Laughlin resort, the Department of Justice announced Thursday. Richard Anthony Hernandez, 23, is charged with one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and one count of aggravated sexual abuse. He was ordered held without bail Thursday after a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carl W. Hoffman. Prosecutors said Hernandez and a woman, who is a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, entered a room at Avi Resort & Casino in Laughlin on Monday. He is accused of repeatedly striking her in the face and body, and sexually assaulting her in the room, according to a Justice Department news release. Officers from the Fort Mohave Tribal Police Department found the hotel room in disarray, with blood spatter on the walls and near the door, along with blood on the beds, the release stated. Hernandez faces life in prison if convicted.
A former hedge fund manager has been sentenced in New York to eight years in prison after cheating 45 investors of over $22 million. Michael Scronic was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in White Plains. The 46-year-old Scronic also was ordered to pay $22 million to his victims. He pleaded guilty in March, admitting he defrauded the investors over a seven-year period. Prosecutors said he stole about a half million dollars annually to fund his luxurious lifestyle. Prosecutors say Scronic claimed that his hedge fund, run from his Pound Ridge, New York home, had a positive investment return when it lost money in every quarter but one. His lawyers had sought a sentence of no more than three years, blaming Scronic’s crime on a compulsive gambling problem.
A Pennsylvania man who worked at a trucking company has been caught allegedly funneling client payments into his own account. 29-year-old James R. Perry allegedly stole nearly $400,000 from his workplace between April 2015 and when he was caught in July 2018. Perry’s role was as director of credit and billing at R&R Express. Authorities allege he stole the money by using a computer program that would redirect payments into his own account. The customer’s bill would be considered a bad debt and the company would simply write it off and take the financial hit. The alleged scheme was eventually uncovered by coworkers who logged in to Perry’s account one day when he was off work. A warrant was issued to search his computer and seize his financial records. According to WPXI News, the bulk of the money has already been spent on adult entertainment (strip clubs), casino gambling, jewelry and Pittsburgh Pirates and Penguins hockey tickets. In total, he was accused of stealing $374,000 from the company.
Three chair umpires from Thailand have been banned for life from tennis after being found guilty of match-fixing and betting offenses. The Tennis Integrity Unit announced the sanctions Monday against Anucha Tongplew, Apisit Promchai and Chitchai Srililai, who were accused of betting on matches and manipulating scores in the official scoring system at ITF Futures tournaments in 2017. In a statement, the integrity unit said all three umpires admitted the breaches. The case was adjudicated by independent anti-corruption hearing officer Charles Hollander. The TIU says “the lifetime bans apply with immediate effect and prohibit each individual from ever officiating at, or attending, any sanctioned events organized or recognized by the governing bodies of the sport.” The TIU is an initiative of the Grand Slam Board, the International Tennis Federation, the ATP and the WTA.
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