A Brief Look at Crime 06/10 – 06/16

Casino employee attempts to run over robber after being held at gunpoint 

Shreveport police are investigating following an armed robbery at a downtown casino. It happened overnight at the ElDorado Hotel and Casino’s parking garage. Police say a female employee had just finished her shift and was counting her money in her car. That’s when allegedly a gunman walked up to her and snatched her money away. However, police say she attempted to run him over as he ran away and he fired his gun. No one was hurt. The gunman was not captured and police said he dropped the money that he stole while getting away.

‘Trusted employee’ gambled away more than £103,000 of stolen money

A TRUSTED employee stole more than £103,000 from the family company where she worked, a court heard. Nicholas Berry, prosecuting, told Hereford Crown Court that Ashley had held a number of positions at the company over the years, most recently that of company accountant. An accounting discrepancy of about £15,000 was initially noted by the external accountancy company brought in to sign off the accounts, but Ashley reassured them that it was part of a private loan arrangement. Her deception was finally discovered when she became unwell prior to the 2018 meeting to sign off the accounts. Company director Simon Adam called the external accountancy company ‘to sort a few issues’ in Ashley’s absence. During the telephone call, the external accountant queried whether a three per cent interest rate was sufficient for the loan to Ashley, which Mr Adam knew nothing about. Directors Simon and Julia Adam ordered an immediate review of the accounts and confronted Ashley directly. She immediately admitted the theft, blaming financial issues that had begun to accumulate six years previously due to her use of payday loans and online gambling sites.

Former EDA director lost $700,000-plus gambling

Jennifer McDonald, the former director of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority, lost $753,207 gambling from 2014 to 2018, according to unsealed court documents relating to the Virginia State Police investigation into possible financial improprieties. Virginia State Police, in conjunction with the Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, subpoenaed documents in September from the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, West Virginia, detailing McDonald’s gambling records. This came seven months after McDonald told a local media outlet that she purchased various land parcels using about $1.9 million she had won at the casino from 2014 to 2018. Virginia State Police Special Agent Eric Deel states in an affidavit that records provided by the casino show McDonald lost $753,207, with annual losses of $38,752 in 2014, $130,517 in 2015, $158,752 in 2016, $205,264 in 2017 and $219,920 in 2018. Interim EDA Director John Anzivino stated in an email that McDonald’s last budgeted salary was $115,000.

The situation is similar to the case of Byung “Peter” Bang, who served as Montgomery County, Maryland’s former Department of Economic Development director. According to the Washington Post, Bang pleaded guilty in November 2018 to federal counts including wire fraud and state charges including misconduct while in office. According to the Washington Post, it was Bang’s gambling habit that led to him embezzling $6.7 million of county money. In March, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

When McDonald resigned as director on Dec. 20, she sent the EDA board an email stating that she is liable for $2.7 million in EDA losses. Last month, the EDA filed a $17.6 million lawsuit against McDonald and nine other defendants detailing alleged embezzlement involving land dealings and misappropriation of town and county credit lines.

Man accused of robbing three St. Paul banks — one of them twice — to support gambling addiction

A man accused of stealing thousands of dollars from St. Paul bank branches in the last two months told investigators he did so because of a gambling addiction. In each instance, Hill donned a ski mask, sunglasses and gloves, walked into a St. Paul bank and handed over a note to the teller instructing the employee to hand over all available cash, authorities say. One of the notes read: “This is a robbery, cash, 90 seconds.” Another read, “We are watching you. Do not panic or set off the alarm. Hand over the 100s, 50s, 20s and 10s,” according to the complaint.Police arrested Hill Wednesday after officers tracked vehicles involved in the thefts to him, according to the charges. He admitted to stealing from the four St. Paul bank locations, as well as one in Stillwater, adding that he never threatened anyone or displayed a weapon, the complaint said. He went on to say that a gambling addiction caused his “downfall,” costing him jobs, his marriage and creating “major financial problems” in his life, according to the charges. The case comes less than a year after Hill was sentenced on a theft by swindle conviction for embezzling more than $150,000 from his former employer, HealthEast, authorities say. He received 10 years of probation in that case.

Bellefonte man sentenced after pleading guilty to embezzling nearly $1.5 million 

A former Bellefonte insurance agent was sentenced Friday to 17 years in prison and three years’ supervised release after he pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $1.5 million from dozens of individuals.U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann also ordered Hocker to pay $1,495,782 in restitution. James Hocker, 49, solicited funds from individuals throughout Centre County between 2009 and 2018 and guaranteed returns of at least 25%, though he never invested the money, according to the criminal information filed in the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania. Instead, Hocker built a life that revolved around gambling, drugs and prostitution, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Alisan Martin. “(Hocker) took check upon check, staring into the faces of people who not only trusted him as a financial advisor, but cared for him as friend,” Martin wrote in her sentencing memo sent to U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann. “The government respectfully asks the court to see the defendant for the self-serving fraud that he is.” In her 19-page memo, Martin also included stories from 22 individuals who were defrauded by Hocker.

Florida man allegedly scammed victims out of nearly $7M

A man from Miami, Florida has pleaded not guilty in federal court after allegedly committing wire fraud and international money laundering, scamming victims out of nearly $7 million, including two from the Baton Rouge area. The indictment states Byers found potential victims through various social media sites, commercial services that provided investor leads, and documents that identified victims of other schemes. The indictment goes on to claim Byers talked victims into investing with his company, WBI Associates, llc, and promised victims their money would be invested in various things such as gold production, a lottery company, foreign currency, or “dark pools” or “blind pools.” Rather than investing the victims’ money, Byers allegedly spent the funds on personal things, including about $10,000 per month in rent for his home in a Miami hotel, the lease of luxury vehicles, like a Ferrari, and gambling in casinos. Byers allegedly received at least $6,888,000 as a result of the scheme. According to the indictment, two of Byers’ victims live in Louisiana, one in Baton Rouge and one in Baker.

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