A Brief Look at Crime 01/06 – 01/12

Ballet School Worker Stole $800,000 to Fund Gambling Addiction

A woman who was looking after the finances and accounts of a leading ballet school in Washington, D.C. stole almost $800,000 to fund her gambling addiction. Sophia Kim (Sookyeong Kim Sebold) allegedly defrauded the Kirov Academy, founded by Reverend Sun Myung Moon in 1990, by using her position as the school’s comptroller. According to an FBI affidavit, Kim stole money due to “a gambling addiction and other financial problems.” Kim admitted her use of school credit and debit cards to steal money. She also made cash withdrawals from the company’s BB&T bank account. She also wrote 68 unauthorized checks to herself or for “cash”, the value of which ranged between $500 and $12,000. The checks only contained Kim’s signature and did not have supporting documentation. The total sum stolen in this manner was $377,200. Similar incidents of gambling addicts stealing from employers and family members to feed their habit are reported to happen worldwide. According to a VSO News report earlier this month, a 53-year-old bookkeeper for a luxury cruise company in Australia stole $2.55m from her employer for gambling purposes over the course of six years. This week, 32Red paid back almost £600,00 ($775,000) to a firm in Belfast, Northern Ireland after an employee stole company funds to gamble on the site.

Livestock broker with ‘extensive, reckless’ gambling habit sentenced for fraud

An Indiana livestock broker who defrauded customers and used their money to feed his gambling habit has been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $750,000 to his victims. Brian D. Jones, 40, of Vevay operated a business buying calves from dairy farms in Wisconsin and selling them to ranches in Missouri and Texas, according to court documents. Prosecutors said he used the money from this business to feed an “extensive, reckless gambling” habit. “From the government’s position, Jones turned to soliciting investments and defrauding investors to obtain funds for his mounting debts and gambling activity,” prosecutors wrote in documents. Jones solicited his victims for funds under the premise he was expanding his business, but that money went to gambling or paying down other debts, prosecutors said. They also said he produced “bogus” bank receipts allay fears of his investors.

Drunken driver who slammed car into man in AC casino garage fight gets 14 years in prison

A Newark man convicted in a drunken New Year’s Day dispute in a parking garage for an Atlantic City casino in which he slammed his car into another man, crushing his legs, has been sentenced to 14 years in state prison, authorities said Monday. Michael Garland, 46, was convicted at trial of aggravated assault and endangering an injured victim after claiming he acted in self-defense, according to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. The dispute unfolded just before 1:30 a.m. on the fourth-floor of the Golden Nugget Casino, Hotel & Marina, authorities said. The younger man reached into a car and threw a punch at Garland, who was seated in the vehicle, authorities said. When police arrived, they found the victim next to the front of the vehicle, which had heavy front-end damage. He was taken to a local hospital to be treated for two broken legs. He must serve at least nine years in state prison before he is eligible for parole.

Dad’s addiction left family in £500,000 debt – but they didn’t know until he was jailed

The family of a respected accountant was torn apart after his secret gambling addiction left them half-a-million in debt. David Bradford, 63, ran up debts of £500,000 as he sank deeper into his online gambling and fruit machine habit. Father-of-three David turned to crime in a bid to cover his losses and stole £53,000 from his employers to help balance the books. And when his fraud came to light he tried to hide it from his family -but was charged and jailed for two years. Now – with the help of his son Adam – David has turned his life around and the two have spearheaded a campaign to help clean up the industry. The father and son’s work has led to a decrease in the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 and an increase in NHS provision for gambling addicts. The Sheffield-based family’s story is told tomorrow night in the documentary ‘Robbing Your Relatives’ on Channel 5. Over 430,000 people are thought to be addicted to gambling in the UK.

Two nuns admit embezzling cash for Vegas gambling trips

Two nuns who worked at a Catholic school in California have admitted embezzling about $500,000 (£396,000) and using it to gamble in Las Vegas. Sisters Mary Kreuper and Lana Chang took the money from St James‘ Catholic School in the city of Torrance, near Los Angeles, to spend in Casinos. The pair, who are said to be best friends, took funds from an account holding tuition fees and donations. The sisters, who recently retired, have expressed remorse for their actions. Mary Kreuper was the school principal for 29 years, while Lana Chang worked as a teacher for about 20 years. They are thought to have stolen the money over a period of at least a decade to spend on travel and gambling. “Our community is concerned and saddened by this situation and regret any injury to our long relationship with the families of the school,” it added.

Former Hollywood exec pleads in $22M embezzlement

A former executive at a Hollywood digital marketing company has pleaded guilty to federal charges for embezzling $22 million from his employer. Prosecutors say Dennis Blieden of Cincinnati used the money for personal expenses, including $150,000 buy-ins to enter two professional poker Tournaments. Blieden pleaded guilty Friday to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Blieden was a vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul, which relocated this year to London. It represents “influencers” on YouTube and Instagram. Prosecutors say Blieden controlled the firm’s finances and transferred money to his personal bank accounts, using it to pay off credit cards and invest in crypto-currency for online gambling. He recorded the transactions as payments to StyleHaul clients. He also forged an executive’s signature. Blieden could face two decades in federal prison.

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