A Brief Look at Crime 11/26 – 12/02

Rivers Casino accused of illegally recording customers’ text messages and emails

Rivers Casino is being sued by two customers who say the casino illegally recorded their text messages, emails and financial information. Security cameras are everywhere at the Rivers Casino. But the lawsuits say the unnamed casino employees went too far when they zoomed in tight on the cellphones belonging to Hayley Clerici and Julie Capone. In her complaint, Clerici says the casino recorded her “private text messages, email communications and personal financial information.” The suit says Clerici expected “lawful surveillance” at the casino but “had no basis to expect that surveillance would extend to close-up viewing and recording of her cellphone.” Her lawsuit alleges the casino violated the state wiretap law. The lawsuits say the recordings were turned over to Allegheny County police Sgt. Scott Scherer and his attorney, Dennis McCurdy, to be used as part of Scherer’s custody case against Clerici. A spokesman for the state Gaming Control Board had no comment on the lawsuit but said it is being reviewed by the board’s investigators. Some casino patrons said they were shocked to hear of the allegations in the lawsuit. “My text messages and my emails are my personal business. It has nothing to do with the casino, and I don’t really feel they have a right to record that,” said customer Aubrey Cathcart, of Bellevue.

Dog rescue treasurer accused of $120K theft 

Cape Girardeau resident Elizabeth Hann, 40, is wanted on two counts of felony stealing after allegedly embezzling more than $120,000 from Mac’s Mission not-for-profit group between November 2016 and September 2017, according to a news release from the Cape Girardeau Police Department. According to the probable cause statement, Hann is accused of conducting 89 unauthorized withdrawals, totaling approximately $121,000, from Mac’s Mission Charity Foundation’s bank account between Nov. 9, 2016, and Sept. 23, 2017. According to the statement, Hann’s fellow charity workers stated Hann regularly attended both the Isle of Capri Casino in Cape Girardeau and the Hollywood Casino in St. Charles, Missouri.That the theft occurred was a betrayal, Steffen said. “She was like a sister to me,” she said of Hann. “I had so much trust in her.” Mac’s Mission is a grassroots, donation-based mission aimed at helping special-needs animals — mostly dogs, she said, but they’ve helped other animals too, including rabbits and even chickens. That means expenses, Steffen said. Animals with cleft palates need to be tube-fed. Animals hit by cars or rescued from a hoarding situation need surgery and other veterinary care. Some cases require specialists, meaning trips to St. Louis and the veterinary school at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Former city employee arrested for stealing more than $148k from Clearwater Parks and Rec Department

A former city of Clearwater employee was arrested after police say he stole more than $148,000 from the Parks and Recreation Department. Robert Carpenter, 58, is accused of taking cash payments from a concessionaire at Eddie C. Moore Complex and from a soccer league that rented fields at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex, in addition to cash thefts from two other sources or events. He was an employee of more than 20 years and a supervisor assigned to the athletics area of Parks and Recreation. Slaughter says his investigators believe at least some of the stolen money was used to fuel a gambling addiction. Carpenter took cash from vendors and teams who rented out the concession and field space, and often times, did not provide receipts for the transactions. Over time, those small amounts added up to more than $148,000, according to police.

Former conservation district administrator sentenced to federal prison for stealing grant funds

The former administrator of the Calhoun Conservation District was sentenced Monday to more than three years in federal prison. Tracy Bronson, 57, of Marshall, was sentenced in federal District Court in Kalamazoo by Judge Paul Maloney to 37 months in prison and three years supervised release. She also was ordered to repay $573,159.20 to the conservation district and its insurance carrier. Bronson will be ordered to report to a federal prison in the next few weeks. Her attorney, J. Thomas Schaeffer said his client has a gambling addiction and used the stolen money at Firekeepers Casino in Emmett Township. “It is not an excuse but an explanation about why she did it,” Schaeffer told the Enquirer. “It is an addiction. She is a victim of the casino addiction. Addictions are addictions whether it is alcohol or pornography or gambling. They all fall into the same category and addictions are hard to deal with. U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said in a statement that, “Bronson stole not only from her loyal employer, but from the Calhoun County community and taxpayers. As a result of her selfish breach of trust, CCD has struggled to pay its bills and fulfill its important mission for future generations. Combating financial fraud such as this serious embezzlement – particularly when it involves taxpayer money and vulnerable victims – remains a priority of federal law enforcement.”

Pittsburgh Firm’s Office Manager, Partner’s Son, Sentenced for Embezzlement 

The former office manager of a Pittsburgh bankruptcy boutique who is the son of one of the name partners has been sentenced to 21 months in jail for stealing over $800,000 from the firm. According to a federal indictment, Anthony Calaiaro used his access to write a total of $827,020 worth of checks, payable to himself, from June 2014 to April 2016, out of the law firm’s business account. The checks included false descriptions such as “expense reimbursement,” “collection distribution” and “bonus,” the indictment said. In addition to jail time, he was also sentenced on Aug. 1 to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $827,020 in restitution. “The money he unlawfully took in this case was used to support his drug addiction and a gambling problem,” the sentencing memo said.

President of Philadelphia-Area School Auxiliary Employees Union Charged with Theft

For more than a half-dozen years, Rose Marie Lyons stole dues to cover her gambling losses. Union members are wondering how nobody could have noticed. On February 13, Lyons, former president and secretary of the William Penn Education Support Personnel Association (WPESPA), surrendered to authorities in Delaware County, Pa., where she was charged in county district court with embezzling more than $200,000 in cash and checks from the Lansdowne union. The WPESPA represents about 90 auxiliary employees of the William Penn School District, one of whom was an administrative assistant, Rose Marie Lyons. Now 52, Lyons, a resident of Wilmington, Del., during her years as union head, saw its coffers as cover for her gambling losses. According to charging documents, during July 2009-December 2015 she made 448 unauthorized withdrawals through a variety of means totaling $210,592.91 from the union bank account.

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