Monthly Archives: March 2019

Despite Recent Supreme Court Ruling, most NCAA March Madness Gambling will be Illegal and Cost Employers Millions in Lost Productivity

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing problems that come with the NCAA March Madness tournament each year. Millions is lost to employers through a decline in work place productivity and people continue to gamble away money at unprecedented rates. Most of this gambling is illegal and despite the recent legalization of sports betting by the Supreme Court, that trend will continue. An online source explains:

America has seen a boom in legalized sports betting over the past year, and March Madness betting will highlight that. Nevada certainly remains the top dog, but New Jersey has come on strong. Yet illegal offshore sportsbooks continue to thrive. The American Gaming Association (AGA) set out to determine how much legal versus illegal wagering will take place with *March Madness *betting.

Over the first week of March, the AGA utilized Morning Consult to conduct an online survey among more than 11,000 adults. The study found that some 47 million people will wager on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which began Tuesday with the First Four. The AGA found that $8.5 billion will be bet during the tourney, shared by legal and illegal sportsbooks. Legal sports betting continues to expand, but this report found that offshore operations and local bookies will still attract more action than regulated sportsbooks. 

The general legality of such gambling continues to be a prominent issue this time of year as many people view office pools as harmless fun. Unfortunately, it’s anything but and its almost always illegal gambling. ESPN explains:

“Generally, if the office pool charges a fee for entering the pool and awards prizes to the winner(s), then there is a serious question as to its legality. Some states exempt small pools from their gambling laws and regulations,” said Washington, D.C.-based attorney Steven Eichorn of Ifrah Law.

Sports betting is currently legal in only a handful of states, with Nevada the only state permitted to offer single-game wagering, the most popular form. The Nevada Gaming Control Board does not track the amount bet on the NCAA tournament separately, and combines the NBA and college basketball into one “basketball” category on its monthly revenue reports. The spike in action from March Madness is easy to see, though.

In terms of cost to employers, the Charlotte Observer points to a Chicago-based study which says as much as $1.7 billion will be lost by employers in productivity, which breaks down to $109 million lost for every 10 minutes spent following the tournament. They believe there will be over 37 million workers participating in pools with 1.5 million watching games and results online from their desks. ESPN recently quantify the financial impact of just the gambling:

 On the low end, the FBI estimated in 2013 that $2.6 billion was bet illegally on the tournament. On the high end, veteran bookmakers estimate the number to be anywhere from $12 billion to $26 billion. Friendly bracket pools are everywhere, with most everyone betting on the NCAA tournament in some form. But there are bets, and then there are bets. You don’t get to $26 billion with $20-per-sheet office pools.

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A Brief Look at Crime 03/18 – 03/25

Sex trafficking ring suspects may have made millions and tried to hide it at casinos 

Dallas police said the owners of some seedy massage parlors made them rich, and they spent some of the money on luxury cars, homes and trips, which were paid for in cash. On Wednesday, officers rescued 16 women they say were living in deplorable conditions in the massage parlors as part of a sex trafficking ring. Police arrested four people, including Josip Maric, an assistant basketball coach at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Officers raided his home Wednesday as shocked neighbors looked on. “When you find it’s someone you see across the street and works on your own campus and that something like that is going on,” neighbor Kathryn Jacobs said. “Just the things they are talking about are morally revolting. Police believe the couple may have tried to hide millions of dollars they earned from illegal prostitution by exchanging the money at two casinos in Oklahoma. Court documents show that “Between January 2015 and January 2019 the couple deposited more than 5 million dollars in cash into Winstar and Choctaw casinos, and nearly a million and a half dollars into various banks for a total nearly 6 and a half million dollars. “Police believe the sex ring was in operation for years and some of the women may have been given drugs.

Man faces murder charges after carjacking ends in deaths

A Mississippi man has been indicted on murder charges after an August carjacking that led to the death of two men. The Vicksburg Post reports 27-year-old Deon Jamall Hatten was indicted in Warren County for unarmed carjacking, one count of fleeing a law enforcement officer, and two counts of felony murder. Hatten is accused of snatching a woman out of her pickup truck at the Lady Luck Casino in Vicksburg. While speeding away, authorities say he struck a car carrying 30-year-old Develle Brinner and 32-year-old Ron Hedrick. Their car caught fire, killing both Vicksburg residents before they could be taken to a hospital. Hatten, himself hospitalized after the crash, was originally charged with vehicular manslaughter. But Mississippi’s felony murder law says any death during the commission of another felony is murder.

Former cop accused of pawning weapons had gambling addiction

A former Hallandale Beach police officer accused of pawning department-issued weapons and other items had a gambling addiction that was well-known to his superiors, his attorney told Local10.com. Yan Kleyman was arrested on a charge of dealing in stolen property, ChiefSonia Quinones Friday in a video posted on the Hallandale Beach Police Department’s Facebook page. Quinones said a routine audit uncovered that Kleyman conducted pawn transactions with department-issued equipment. Miami attorney Richard L. Cooper told Local10.com in an email Friday night that the top brass at theHallandale Beach Police Department about his client’s gambling addiction for years. “Kleyman’s superiors knew about his mental health condition, condoned his addiction and went as far as to deduct his gambling debts from his paychecks to repay his creditor fellow officers,” Cooper said. In another email, Cooper said the department went so far as to cancel its annual casino night last year in what he believes was a response to Kleyman’s known gambling addiction.

Gambling Killer Shot Brooklyn Rapper Mook Mula, Cops Say

A Brooklyn rap artist’s alleged killer was arrested more than a year after a gambling dispute between the two men turned fatal, police said. James Oliver, 40, stands accused of murdering 30-year-old Darnell Pettway, who performed as Mook Mula, during a gambling session in a the lobby of an East 93rd Street building in December 2017, police said. Oliver allegedly shot Pettway multiple times in the chest … said police. Emergency responders rushed Pettway to Kings County Hospital where he later died, according to police. The online magazine Hip-Hop Vibe described Mook Mula as “a steadily rising figure in NYC” who had performed in some of the city’s top venues and made several appearances on local radio. Police named Oliver as a suspect in May and arrested him on charges of murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon on Feb. 14. Oliver pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court Thursday and was remanded without bail, court records show.

Ex-Grand Island employee stole $116,000 to feed gambling habit

A former supervisor with the Town of Grand Island’s senior center stole $116,000 in cash over a six-year period to feed her gambling habit, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said. Barbara Gannon, 71, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Erie County Court to a charge of second-degree grand larceny, a felony. She faces up to 15 years in prison at her May 2 sentencing before Judge Sheila DiTullio. Gannon already has paid the town back $6,000 and agreed to reimburse Grand Island for the rest of the money, though Flynn said after the court proceedings that he doubts she can or ever will. The district attorney, whose office launched an investigation into the missing money more than a year ago, sharply criticized the town for its lack of internal financial controls. “What is really disturbing is it took Grand Island six years to uncover this,” Flynn told reporters. Grand Island Supervisor Nathan McMurray was in office for the last two years of the thefts. “I agree that there were problems with the way things were done before I got there,” McMurray said. “And I’m proud we were able to identify this wrongdoing and refer the matter to the authorities.”

Ex-County Official Gets 4 Years in Prison for Stealing $6.7M

A former county official from a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., has been sentenced to four years in prison for embezzling more than $6.7 million in government funds. Peter Bang, who was the chief operating officer of Montgomery County’s economic development department, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis. The judge didn’t immediately rule on any restitution or forfeiture owed by Bang, a 59-year-old resident of Germantown. Bang pleaded guilty in November to both federal and state criminal charges. He faces a March 7 sentencing hearing for the state convictions. Prosecutors say he used most of the stolen money to feed a gambling addiction. U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said in a statement that the embezzled money could have been used for schools, libraries and other county expenditures.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Could Florida Legalize Sports Betting in a New Tribal Gambling Agreement?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to renew the compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe, who has rights to exclusively offer various gambling table games. Parts of the compact have expired and both parties have generally been acting in good faith to honor the conditions lines out prior to their expiration (a few legal challenges aside). Even thought the tribe isn’t legally obligated to still provide certain payments to the state while a new compact is being worked through, they have still continued those payments. There are some in the state that want to see sports betting legalized in Florida after the recent Supreme Court ruling and its been suggested that these negotiations could allow for such legalization. An online source explains: 

There is neither a bill nor any proposal, but there is some ray of hope for *Florida* sports betting to sneak into the state’s short legislative session. A priority of the legislature is negotiating a new gaming compact with the *Seminole tribe*. *Senate President Bill Galvano* tells /Legal Sports Report/ he thinks legal sports betting would be part of any agreement.

“It’s definitely part of the discussion because that opportunity exists and they are as interested in participating in sports betting as other entities here in the state of Florida,” Galvano said. “We’re not at a point where we have a product agreed upon and know who gets that product, but we’re having those initial discussions and I think it’s something the tribe will want if we resolve this.”

Galvano was the key legislative negotiator of the 2010 compact with the Seminole. He tasked *Sen. Wilton Simpson* to meet with Seminole representatives to pursue a new compact. “Right now, from the state’s standpoint and speaking on behalf of the Senate, what is paramount is to see where we are ultimately with the tribe going forward,” Galvano said. “If we are able to restabilize that relationship, which provides substantial revenue to our state budget, then the opportunity is there for exploring sports betting in the state of Florida.”

The issue of which side would control this gambling is a more complicated matter as new gambling expansion must now be approved by the Florida voters. That change was made as a result of a statewide voter initiative last Nov when the measure passed by an overwhelming majority. They go on to explain: 

Complicating matters even further is a constitutional amendment Florida voters passed last November taking away the legislature’s authority to authorize casino gambling expansions in the state. *Marc Dunbar*, a government relations and gaming attorney who calls the Seminole a client, told /LSR/ that the only way FL sports betting can be offered without a constitutional amendment is through the tribes or the lottery.

Galvano indicated that the legislature would still attempt to move forward with a sports betting bill if it makes sense within the compact negotiation. He added that he had lawyers review the situation who think a reasonable argument can be made that sports betting doesn’t count as *Class III* casino gambling under Amendment 3.

“If we get within the red zone on a deal, the governor would engage and we would occupy the role of ratifying the compact, expansion on sports betting and any other changes in the parimutuel sector to come from the legislature,” Galvano said. “If it were to happen, it’s going to be pretty close to the end of the session before we can get everything lined up.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


A Brief Look at Crime 03/11 – 03/17

Mohegan Sun Restaurant Manager Allegedly Embezzled $103K To Support Gambling Habit 

An ex-assistant manager showed up in court this week to face a charge for allegedly embezzling over $100,000 from a restaurant in Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino. The attorney representing Adam G. Johnson, 43, of Griswold, Connecticut, entered a not guilty plea for his client on Monday on a single count of first-degree larceny. The charges stemmed from Johnson’s alleged theft of $103,568 over three years from the Ballo Italian restaurant at Mohegan Sun where he worked. The Day newspaper revealed that Johnson gambled before he came to work and after he finished his shift, according to fellow restaurant employees. According to investigators, Johnson voided charges on customers’ restaurant tabs that had been paid in cash or entered invalid promotional codes through a computer “point of sale” system. Johnson admitted that he often voided items off checks, particularly on weekends, and would pocket anywhere from $150 to $800. It started in 2015, when he allegedly altered 49 checks and voided 91 items. That year, he stole $2,134. From there, his patterns escalated, moving from $5,119 in alleged stolen monies in 2016 up to $63,370 in 2018 until he was caught. In total, over the four years, Johnson allegedly changed 1,304 checks and voided 4,603 items.

Atlanta attorney gets 15 years for stealing $26 million from his firm

An Atlanta attorney convicted of stealing $26 million from his law firm has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported 53-year-old Nathan Hardwick IV was also ordered to forfeit nearly $20 million. The U.S. Justice Department also said in a news release that Hardwick must pay restitution and serve six years of supervised release after his prison sentence. Hardwick was a partner with the real estate law firm Morris Hardwick Schneider. Hardwick was convicted in October of wire fraud, conspiracy and making false statements to a federally insured financial institution. Federal prosecutors say Hardwick used much of the money to fund his gambling habits and to support a lavish lifestyle. Hardwick had millions wired from the law firm’s accounts over three years ending in August 2014.

Man found dead in trunk of car in northwest Miami-Dade, police say

Police found a man dead Tuesday inside the trunk of a car in theWest Little River of northwest Miami-Dade County. Angel Rodriguez, a spokesman for theMiami-Dade County Department, said the body was found around 2 p.m. in the 9100 block of Northwest 22nd Avenue. Officers responded to the scene after witnesses reported a foul order and flies coming from the vehicle, police said. Authorities identified the body Thursday morning as that of Richard Lindsay, 43, who owned the vehicle. His brother, Jason Lindsay, told police that he had not seen Richard Lindsay for several days, but he did not report his brother missing, police said. Jason Lindsay said his brother — a father of four girls — was a peaceful man, but he struggled with a gambling addiction. “It’s just a bad habit that he had that pretty much cost him his life,” Jason Lindsay said.

Vancouver man accused of stealing $65,000 in effort to pay off $200,000 in gambling debts

A Vancouver man is accused of stealing about $65,000 from multiple local construction companies and people in the industry to help pay off more than $200,000 in gambling debts. On Dec. 13, 2018, Scott Aldinger, owner of Precision Construction Services Inc., contacted the Vancouver Police Department to report that Saban, an employee and project manager, had been stealing from the company and many other people in Clark County’s construction industry, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Saban placed an order Nov. 15, 2018, for more than $3,500 worth of building supplies at Parr Lumber in Ridgefield on Precision Construction Services’ account. However, the supplies charged were for a job being run by another company. The supplies were delivered to Richard and Kelli Nye’s residence for their project, but the Parr Lumber invoice was never paid, so the company took a loss, the affidavit states. Last month, detectives received information that Saban is an avid gambler. They contacted the Washington State Gambling Commission and learned that over the past three years, Saban had taken more than a $160,000 loss from The Last Frontier Casino and The Palace Casino in La Center. He also had taken a more than $50,000 loss at the Lucky 21 Casino in Woodland, according to court documents. A search warrant served on Saban’s bank account found large withdrawals at the casinos, as well as checks deposited from the people he borrowed money from, including $41,000 worth of checks from the Nyes, court records show.

CPA laundered $1.3M for gambling habit

Federal prosecutors on Friday revealed a Rice Twp. accountant who laundered more than $1 million from a nonprofit was stealing the money to pay down his gambling debts. Adam Kamor, 43, was caught after the Internal Revenue Service received reports showing he had lost more than $700,000 while gambling at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo-Garrison said in court. “The IRS flagged that because the reported loss far exceeded his income,” he said. During the hearing Friday, Kamor pleaded guilty to felony counts of money laundering and income tax evasion. He will be sentenced May 30. Kamor, a certified public accountant, owned and operated Decker Accounting LLC, a defunct firm at 444 Hazle St. in Wilkes-Barre. The charges alleged that he laundered about $1.35 million from an undisclosed nonprofit corporation in Wilkes-Barre and then failed to report more than $800,000 in income on his personal tax returns. In court Friday, Caraballo-Garrison said Kamor was involved in a “sophisticated money laundering” scheme, diverting the stolen money into accounts that he controlled but that the corporation was not aware existed. Kamor withdrew the money at ATMs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and also used it to pay off a line of credit he accrued by taking cash advances at the casino, he said.

Woman gets probation, must repay nearly $300,000 embezzled from St. Charles landscaping company

A woman who embezzled nearly $300,000 from a St. Charles landscaping company was sentenced Thursday to five years of probation and ordered to repay the money. Arlene Wood, 54, was the company’s office manager and in charge of the company payroll and accounts payable. From January 2011 to Nov. 3, 2017, Wood inflated her salary on paychecks or issued herself duplicate pay 190 times and submitted false information redeeming unused vacation time, bonuses and expense reimbursement 141 times, her plea agreement says. Wood pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge in November. Now she must repay $296,759. Some of that will be repaid with money from her 401k account, court records show. Wood’s lawyer, James Looby Miller, asked for a departure from the recommended prison sentence of more than two years, citing Wood’s health problems, the abuse she suffered as a child and her gambling addiction. Her “gambling addiction was consuming her life, running her bank account dry and causing her to steal from her employer to fulfill her addiction,” he wrote in a court filing. He also said that if sentenced to prison, Wood may not survive to repay any money after her release.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


New Studies Point to Connection between Loot Box Spending and Problem Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the newest gambling mechanic that has taken over video games aimed at children. Loot Boxes are a gambling reward system where the player pays to acquire mystery boxes that when opened provide random in-game items. These items can be simply cosmetic items like a new outfit for a character like Luke Skywalker to wear in Battle Front II, the Star Wars Game based on the Disney property that EA game developed that brought this issue to the forefront, to actually in game weapons that make you more powerful and thus able to win more. Many have called this mechanic out as simple gambling directed and children and the amount of money people spend on loot boxes chasing a certain item is staggering. Many world leaders and government agencies have either banned their use or have called for studies to enact legislation to properly regulate them. Now two large studies have come forward that provides proof that this mechanic plays on the same psychological principles that turn people into problem gamblers as well. An online source reports: 

Many popular games allow people to pay a small fee to obtain a “loot box” containing random selections of virtual in-game items. New research has found that there is a significant relationship between problematic gambling behaviors and spending money on loot boxes.

The findings, which appear in the journal PLOS One, indicate that people who spend more money on loot boxes are also more likely to be unable to keep their gambling habits in check.

“Loot boxes are extremely widespread. A recent analysis we did showed that they may feature in as many as 63% of mobile games. They’re extremely profitable, too: They’re estimated to have perhaps generated as much as $30 billion in revenue in 2018,” said study author David Zendle of York St. John University.

The societal impact of such finding is troubling to say the least. Various game publishers have made some changes to their loot box systems so that you can’t “cash out” or sell your items for real money, thus avoiding the technical definition of gambling in some jurisdictions. Still, others see the entire mechanic as so psychologically manipulative, that regulation is absolutely necessary, especially when so many games are geared towards children. The article goes on to outline the impact:

The participants all reported regularly playing at least of one of ten popular games that feature loot boxes: Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Counter-Strike: GO, FIFA 18, Rocket League, DOTA 2, Team Fortress 2, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.

“There is a link between loot box spending and problem gambling. However, we’re not sure if this means that loot boxes literally cause problem gambling, or if it means that people who are already problem gamblers spend significantly more money on loot boxes. In either case, though, it doesn’t look socially beneficial.”

Some researchers have compared loot boxes to a predatory form of psychological ‘entrapment’ where players spend an escalating amount of money because they believe they have invested too much to quit. But longitudinal research is needed to determine whether loot boxes are directly related to the development of gambling problems.

“Researchers have suggested that loot boxes might create a gateway to problem gambling. We still don’t know if this is true,” Zendle remarked. The study, “Loot boxes are again linked to problem gambling: Results of a replication study,
was authored by David Zendle and Paul Cairns. 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


A Brief Look at Crime 03/04 – 03/10

Casino fined after patron drives drunk, kills jogger 

A Pennsylvania casino has been fined more than $250,000 after a customer was served eight drinks in less than two hours and killed a jogger while driving home. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved the fine against Mount Airy Casino Resort on Wednesday. The casino’s attorney declined to address the board. The driver, 53-year-old Marc Graves, hit and killed 55-year-old dentist Lorraine Hamel less than 15 minutes after leaving the casino in February 2018. Graves pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three to six years in prison. A consent agreement says a server gave Graves five beers and three shots of liquor while he played poker. The casino had promised to install a system that would track the number of alcoholic drinks given to each patron by July 2017, but failed to do so.

Man charged in $750K Super Bowl ticket scam caught in California 

Georgia businessman who went missing after allegedly scamming people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for fake Super Bowl tickets has been found in California, police said. Ketan Shah, 48, of Lawrenceville, was apprehended this week in California. At least six people have told Gwinnett County police that Shah offered to sell them Super Bowl tickets. He took more than $750,000 in payments from people, including Shah’s mother, who never received the tickets Shah claimed to be selling, WSB-TV reported. One victim paid Shah $500,000 to host a Super Bowl party “at an arena,” according to police. Another victim, John Michael Brunetti, said he paid $50,000 for a pair of tickets on the 50-yard line of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Detectives investigating Shah determined he had traveled to Miami, Oklahoma, Alabama, New Mexico, Arizona, Las Vegas and California during the weeks he was missing. A casino worker in Riverside, California, had seen news coverage of Shah’s alleged scam and recognized Shah at the Pechanga Casino and Resort in Temecula, California. A Riverside County sheriff’s deputy confirmed Shah was at the resort and told Gwinnett County detectives. After ensuring Shah’s extradition from California, police took a warrant out for Shah’s arrest and Riverside County deputies took him into custody.

Settlement reached in Meeting Place Mission embezzlement case

A settlement was reached between a local nonprofit and its former director who was charged with embezzlement. Jesse Carswell initially was charged in January 2017 with embezzling more than $100,000 from Meeting Place Mission, according to a previous News Herald article. The embezzlement took place from March 5, 2015, to July 27, 2016, the article said. Police believe Carswell spent tens of thousands of dollars gambling at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino over a 16-month period, the article said. The settlement was announced in a release from Suzy Fitzgerald, president of the organization’s board of directors. “We are thankful for the diligence on the part of the district attorney’s staff, the concern of our constituents, and board,” the release said. “The Meeting Place moved past this issue and has not only continued its mission, but grown in programs and services to the betterment of those in need in our community.” Carswell’s case still is pending in the judicial system, according to an official with the Burke County Clerk of Court’s office.

Drugs, online gambling lead Polk woman to $100K theft scheme

Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 55-year-old Darla Jean Borders of Auburndale on Wednesday for felony charges of a scheme to defraud over $50,000 and grand theft over $100,000. According to Borders’ arrest affidavit, between August and October 2018, while she was employed by Florida Regional Services and in training to be their office manager, she transferred $104,082 from their Bank of America business account to her personal Paypal account. Florida Regional Services is a literature vendor for Narcotics Anonymous and other private for-profit companies. Their profits come from selling products to rehabilitation facilities, such as pamphlets, success chips, etc. Detectives found evidence that Borders made three transactions between $24,000 and $47,000 to her Paypal account between August and October, totaling $104,082. Borders then transferred $79,000 from her Paypal account to her personal checking account, and also made purchases from her Paypal account at merchants such as Dicks Sporting Goods, Young Essential Oils, Gear Bubble and Bed, Bath and Beyond. When she was confronted by the Florida Regional Services chairman, Borders admitted to the theft and her employment was terminated. After her arrest, Borders told detectives that she needed the money to purchase hydrocodone and to gamble online. She is being held in the Polk County Jail on $30,000 bond ($15,000 per charge).

Home seller swindled customers out of $1 million for casino visits

A South Glens Falls seller of modular and prefab homes is accused of bilking 40 customers out of a combined $1 million — and spending some of the money on trips to a casino, purchases on the Home Shopping Network and online games, according to the Attorney General’s office. Sherrie A. Burton, 64, was arraigned in town court on nine felony charges that accuse her of an elaborate scam to defraud home buyers out of down payments and even full cash payments for modular and manufactured homes, prosecutors said. Burton, owner of Valued Manufactured Housing and Valued Homes, allegedly used the money for purchases at Zynga Games, Amazon, the Home Shopping Network, Turning Stone Resort and Casino, as well as payments for hotels, groceries, gas, alcohol and credit cards. The Attorney General said she also made cash withdrawals. “Instead of fulfilling the dream of homeownership, Ms. Burton allegedly defrauded home buyers and used their savings for her personal expenses and gains,” Attorney General Letitia James said. “My office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who engages in activities that harm our residents.” Burton was charged with eight counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud. If convicted, she could spend 10 to 20 years in state prison, prosecutors said.

Vermont woman accused of embezzling $2M from employer

A Northeast Kingdom woman is accused of stealing more than $2 million from her employer. Jennifer Dwyer, 48, of St. Johnsbury, is accused of embezzling the money from Northeast Agriculture Sales in Lyndonville. Investigators say she was the bookkeeper at the business for nearly 20 years, and over the last 10 she used her position to transfer company funds into her personal account. They say she used the money for online gambling and personal debts. Dwyer pleaded not guilty last month to the charges. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


UPDATE: Wire Act Changes delayed by DoJ until June 14

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the developing situation surrounding the Department of Justices’ decision to restore the interpretation to the plain language of the Wire Act to ban all online gambling. The Obama Administration went against this long standing interpretation and concluded the Wire Act was only refereeing to sports betting, meaning all other forms of online gambling were not banned by federal law. This opened the floodgates to numerous state lottery programs as well other online gambling activities such as online poker. Now that the Trump Administration has announced its intent to restore the Wire Act to it original intention, many have objected and others have threatened to join in legal action. As a result, the DoJ is extending the recommended enforcement deadline to allow time for some of the legal challenges to play out. An online source explains: 

The U.S. Department of Justice extended any implementation of the agency’s revised Federal Wire Act opinion until June 14, according to a memo from outgoing Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The memo to all U.S. Attorneys, assistant attorney generals and the director of the FBI was signed Thursday. The Justice Department originally delayed the implementation until April 15. “We have decided to the extend that window an additional 60 day (through June 14, 2019),” Rosenstein wrote. “Providing this extension of time is an internal exercise of prosecutorial discretion and does not create a safe harbor for violations of the Wire Act.”

The move allow a legal challenge to the opinion, brought by New Hampshire, to moved forward in federal court. Rosenstein issued a memorandum on the 90-day delay the day after the opinion was announced, giving “businesses that relied on the 2011 (Office of Legal Counsel) opinion time to bring their operations into compliance with federal law.” Rosenstein is leaving office this week. Some in the gaming industry quietly hope new U.S. Attorney General William Barr – a state’s rights advocate – will simply opt not to enforce the opinion, just as the department doesn’t opt to prosecute for simple possession of marijuana. 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION