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.

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