A Brief Look at Crime 07/15 – 07/21

US Tourist Deaths Reported at Punta Cana Hard Rock Casino as Suspicious D.R. Fatalities Grow (Dominican Republic)

A spate of mysterious deaths of US citizens in tourist resorts in the Dominican Republic has prompted speculation that a serial poisoner may be running amok on the Caribbean Island. The death of California man Robert Bell Wallace in April at the Punta Cana Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort, first reported on Sunday by Fox News, brings the number of suspicious deaths of Americans on the island to at least six in just over a year. Days earlier, Maryland widow Dawn McCoy went public over her concerns about the death of her husband, David Harrison, one year ago at the same resort. Both Wallace and Harrison had been healthy and had died under similar sudden circumstances, according to relatives. Wallace’s niece, Chloe Arnold, told Fox News that her uncle became ill almost immediately after drinking a Scotch from the minibar. He was examined by a resort doctor, who decided he needed to be hospitalized immediately. He died a day later. The US Department of State confirmed last month it was investigating but has said it is “not aware” of any connection between the deaths. But on Friday, Fox News learned that the FBI had joined the investigation, an indication that the possibility is at least being considered they are not the result of natural causes as listed on the autopsy reports.

Americans comprise just over half of the six million tourists who visit the Dominican Republic each year. With such a vast number of visitors, it’s possible the deaths are nothing more than a striking coincidence, but this is not explanation relatives are willing to accept just yet as the clamor for answers grows louder. The Dominican authorities continue to insist the country is safe to visit, but the US State Department urges visitors to exercise caution due to high crime rates, citing “the availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system.” On Monday, it was reported that former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz was recovering from surgery after being shot through the stomach Sunday at a nightclub in Santo Domingo, the island’s capital.

Milford man embezzled more than $1.3 million from companies

A Milford man embezzled more than $850,000 from a Framingham company to help pay for his $1 million in slot machine losses, authorities said. In total, Antonis Mallios, 43, embezzled more than $1.3 million from two companies, according to the spokesperson Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. Mallios pleaded not guilty at his Middlesex Superior Court arraignment on Monday. He is charged with 10 counts of larceny of more than $1,200, two counts of false entry into corporate books and one count of being a common and notorious thief. Mallios was working as a bookkeeper for SVA Inc., a sound engineering company in Framingham. An owner of the company noticed in December one of their accounts had less money than there should be and began auditing their finances.“ Upon reviewing their bank records they discovered that the defendant, who had been employed as a part-time accountant and bookkeeper since 2011, had allegedly been creating and issuing checks payable to himself from the business bank accounts,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Former employee admits to defrauding land surveyors association of more than $200K 

In determining how best to sentence a former executive director, a judge will consider the role of a gambling problem in a hefty fraud that nearly emptied the coffers of the Saskatchewan Land Surveyors Association. Carla Stadnick was executive director — and sole paid employee — of the non-profit association when, in late 2017 and early 2018, she defrauded her employer of more than $216,000. Pyle detailed his client’s struggles with gambling, stating she’d fallen so far into addiction as to not only take money from her employer but to drain her family’s accounts. Court heard Stadnick started working for the association in 2012, and was the sole employee at the Regina office. The then-president of the association lived in Lloydminster, and so was in no easy position to check on the situation when, in late 2017, he heard from members expressing concerns about Stadnick’s performance. When he was unable to get to the bottom of things with her by phone, he made the drive to Regina. He’d expected to hear she was seriously ill. Instead, she confessed she’d been stealing money from the association’s account — a total, it turned out, of $216,455.61.

Jury convicts former Cape Coral real estate broker in half million dollar fraud scheme

A Cape Coral real estate broker was found guilty Tuesday of wire fraud and money laundering as part of a scheme to defraud an investor of more than a half million dollars. A jury convicted Aaron Eyerman, 37, Tuesday in federal court in Fort Myers. He will face sentencing Sept. 9. Eyerman was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud, eight counts of money laundering and one count of false oath in a bankruptcy hearing. In 2015, Eyerman made false statements to the victim and convinced her to invest $300,000 in a real estate venture. Specifically, Eyerman indicated they would “flip” houses by buying, rehabbing, and re-selling properties, the court said. Instead of using the money for that purpose, Eyerman gambled away a large portion of the money at casinos and, over seven weeks, spent the remainder on personal luxury goods, including a custom Porsche 911, a $12,700 Rolex watch, and a $50,000 down payment on his personal luxury waterfront residence in Cape Coral. Eyerman convinced the victim to provide him with another $261,000, which he immediately spent for personal use, including gambling most of it away at the Seminole Indian Casino in Immokalee, the release noted. In total, Eyerman defrauded the victim of $561,000.

Bibb DA announces take down of one of the largest illegal gambling operations in Georgia

The Bibb District Attorney’s office, along with multiple other agencies, announced Thursday they had shut down one of Georgia’s largest illegal gambling operations. The office entered into a settlement on Wednesday with Georgia Atlanta Amusements LLC, its owners and associates for more than $14 million. The company, run by Junaid Virani and his family, owned more than 650 gambling machines at more than 130 legitimate businesses across the state that allowed people to illegally gamble for cash prizes. Beginning in July 2015, all gambling machines in Georgia were connected to a central computer system that kept track of the amounts played and won. Investigators found that Georgia Atlanta Amusements had failed to pay sales and use taxes on approximately $46 million. The settlement says that GAA and its owners and associates are now barred from operating coin-operated machines. A judge will also determine how forfeited assets will be divided. District Attorney David Cooke said his office expects $3M to go to the Georgia Lottery’s HOPE Scholarship program. They also expect $1M to go to sales and use taxes owed in Bibb County. The rest of the assets will be distributed to the district attorney’s offices and law enforcement agencies who helped take the operation down.

Platinum Gaming Penalised by UKGC to Pay £1.6 Million for Social Responsibility and Money Laundering Failures

Another online gambling operator will be forced to pay a monetary fine imposed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) due to failures to identify gambling-related harm and lack of prevention for money laundering. The main gambling regulator of the British gambling sector launched an investigation after it received reports that Platinum Gaming allowed a convicted fraudster to spend a total amount of £629,420. During the enquiries, the Commission learned that the deposits the customer made were so high and losses so big that Platinum Gaming should have considered imposing some limits to the customer, including to ban them from its services. Instead, the online gambling firm continued to allow the customer to gamble. Now, as part of the settlement reached between the UKGC and Platinum Gaming, the online gambling operator agreed to return the amount of £629,420 to fraudster’s victims and to pay a total of £990,200 in lieu of a financial penalty. The money is set to be spent by the Commission to facilitate the delivery of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. According to the investigation’s results, anti-money laundering regulations were breached by the operator. In addition, Platinum Gaming failed to make adequate checks of the source of the funds which were used by the customer to gamble.

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

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