A Brief Look at Crime 4/15 – 4/21

Admitted College Embezzler Negotiates with State 

It’s been over a year and no charges have been filed against Henrietta Trujillo. The former Northern New Mexico College finance director resigned her position in March 2017 and provided her supervisor with a box of evidence detailing how she allegedly kept over $200,00 from the College. New Mexico State Police Agent Mitch Bengston found that Trujillo withheld $249,243 from deposits for the College, of that $92,852 was in checks that were deposited later or replaced and $167,433 was in checks that were not deposited. A total of $81,910 in cash was missing. Trujillo confessed to Bengston that when she “could not make ends meet” she began to take the deposits from the safe and would keep the cash. She told him she stored the checks and the deposit sheets in a box in her closet at her Santa Fe home. Bengston reviewed various financial documents with Trujillo, and throughout the process also asked her about her gambling habits. Trujillo told Bengston she did not feel that she had a gambling problem, and that she believed her casino spending was limited to less than $100 per visit, two to three times per week. State Police Agent Wayne Harvey obtained records from the Pueblo of Pojoaque related to Trujillo’s gambling habits and found a total of $519,817 was spent using her player card between 2007 and 2016.

North Florida Bingo Operators Ordered to Forfeit $5.8 Million Due to Illegal Gambling Operation

Striking a blow against illegal gambling operators who profit behind a facade of good causes, U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe for the Northern District of Florida today announced that the owners/operators of Racetrack Bingo in Fort Walton Beach have been ordered to forfeit $5,813,584 to the United States. In February 2018, a federal jury convicted Larry L. Masino, 68, of Gulf Breeze, and Dixie L. Masino, 66, of Pensacola, of operating an illegal gambling business and money laundering charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia H. Forbes prosecuted the Masinos after a joint investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. U.S. Attorney Keefe issued this statement: “The investigation and prosecution of financial crimes joins the criminal and civil enforcement resources of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement. This multimillion-dollar forfeiture order delivers a powerful message to law breakers who would try to reap millions destined for legitimate charitable organizations. Thanks to the outstanding work of AUSA Forbes and her investigative team, these criminals will pay for their misdeeds.”

Vegas Man Killed by Police in Casino Heist

Authorities have identified a 49-year-old man who was shot and killed by police while exchanging gunfire as he tried to flee a weekend robbery at a posh Las Vegas Strip casino. The Clark County coroner says Michael Charles Cohen of Las Vegas died of a gunshot to the head after the Saturday evening shooting in the valet parking area at the Bellagio resort. Police Capt. Nichole Splinter says an officer was injured by a gunshot that hit his bulletproof vest. He was treated at a hospital and released. His name was not immediately released. Joaquin Escobar is identified as the officer who shot Cohen. Splinter says Cohen fled the casino poker room and was trying to carjack a vehicle when he was confronted by four Las Vegas police officers and gunfire erupted.

3 arrested in Las Vegas casino shooting that wounded 4

Las Vegas police say three men have been arrested in connection with a shooting at a hotel-casino that left four people wounded. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that court records show 35-year-old Travis Callahan, 34-year-old Matthew Norris and 30-year-old Roberto Romero are expected to make initial appearances before a judge Monday. According to authorities, officers responded to reports of a shooting around 1:45 a.m. Sunday at the El Cortez. They located four victims with gunshot wounds. One was hospitalized in critical condition. The other three had non-life-threatening injuries. Police say the shooting appeared to be the result of a dispute on the hotel’s fifth floor. The three suspects face charges including four counts each of attempted murder. It was not immediately known if any of them had attorneys.

Racine woman who stole $775,000 from two dozen estates gets 21-month sentence

Kathleen Fetek, who stole more than $775,000 from clients of her father’s Racine law firm, was sentenced to 21 months in prison Wednesday — a penalty that is about half the minimum recommended in federal sentencing guidelines. “My public defender clients get a lot more time for stealing a lot less,” said Jakelyn Karabetsos, who appeared at the Fetek sentencing hearing on behalf of one of the more than 100 individual victims of Fetek’s scheme that ran for three years. Fetek, 56, earlier pleaded guilty to fraud for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars that were earmarked for the beneficiaries of about two dozen estates being administered by her father’s law firm. Fetek’s scheme was relatively simple. Fetek “wrote checks to herself approximately 225 times over a 27-month period,” federal prosecutor Richard Frohling wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “On each occasion, she had to change a payee or forge a signature, typically impersonating her mother. She cashed checks at banks, liquor stores and other locations.”

Much of the money was spent on gambling and cocaine, the lawyers said. “She didn’t seem to steal it to live lavishly,” Adelman said, adding she did not “buy a yacht.” Frohling’s memorandum noted that “she was at the highest tier of gamblers at the (Potawatomi) casino, receiving free food, drinks, rooms and a personal casino host.” Frohling worte, “Ms Fetek’s status at the casino is not surprising given that she lost over $212,000 there in 2015 and 2016 alone.”

Lawyer Sentenced to 8 Years, Ordered to Repay $1.3 M

A Kentucky lawyer who admitted to pocketing more than $1.3 million from clients to pay personal expenses that included gambling losses has been sentenced to eight years in prison. A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday says Danny Butler of Campbellsville also was ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution. Butler pleaded guilty last year in federal court in Bowling Green to five counts of wire fraud for obtaining money from clients for legal work he didn’t do and to stealing money from estates. Federal prosecutors said he lived an extravagant lifestyle and ran up gambling losses of $1.5 million. The scheme unraveled when two brothers waiting for proceeds of an estate contacted authorities about Butler’s continued excuses for not turning over the money.

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

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