A Brief Look at Crime 04/13 – 04/19

Dealers, Players Cheated Casino Out of Over $100,000 

Two blackjack players and three dealers conspired to cheat a Connecticut casino operated by the Mohegan tribe out of over $100,000 in 2018, according to tribal police. Three of the five people named in court documents have been charged to date with their involvement in illegal bets, according to an arrest warrant affidavit written by Mohegan Tribal Police Detective John Graves. Former Mohegan Sun dealers Darius J. Rook, 22, of Norwich and Aneesah Ahmad, 24, of Montville and player Victor Jesus Garcia, 36, of Yonkers, New York, have all pleaded not guilty to first-degree larceny and cheating at gambling, The Day reported Monday. The investigation began in May 2018 when the casino surveillance department began a review of dealer error between Garcia and another dealer. Garcia allegedly cheated with all three dealers for a total loss of $83,850 to the casino. Another player cheated with Rook and Dixon for a total of $20,525, according to police.

Harrah Cockfighting Ring Suspects Now Face Nearly 90 Related Charges

The couple busted in a Harrah cockfighting ring in January are in more hot water. Charges in the case have been amended to include 88 cockfighting related charges. Justin McHone, 38, and Tara Gentry, 41, were arrested in January after the multi-jurisdiction Anti-crime Support Effort (MASE) team stumbled across the ring while serving a search warrant on an unrelated case. The ring was located on a property east of Harrah off of Highway 62. The two face one count of instigating or encouraging cockfighting, servicing or facilitating cockfighting, and 86 additional charges of owning, possessing, keeping or training a bird for cockfighting.

“We’ve got a full count of the number of fighting chickens, there were 86 that were confiscated,” said Allan Grub, the Lincoln/Pottawatomie County District Attorney. “Since they admitted to the ownership of all those birds, they had the fighting pen there, we believe all of those charges are maintainable and each of those charges carries up to 10 years a piece.” By the end of January, the Tulsa area nonprofit, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, rescued all 86 roosters and hens. The animals were placed in loving homes. One crime, investigators quickly learned, turned into multiple. “Methamphetamines were found at the residence, there were guns found at the residence, we believe that there was illegal gambling going on,” said Grubb. “It’s just patterns and practices of crimes that we want to discourage in our district.”

Manager Stole Hundreds of Thousands From Sunny Isles Beach Condos

A property manager for two Sunny Isles Beach condominiums is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from condo boards that was spent on gambling at a local casino, authorities said. Georgina Pineda, 56, was arrested back in November on a first-degree grand theft charge, and was arrested again on Monday on a similar charge, according to jail records and arrest reports. According to the reports, Pineda had worked as the property manager at the Eden Roc Condominium on N. Bay Road, as well as a condo association manager at the King David Condo on Atlantic Boulevard. While working at the Eden Roc, Pineda had access to the condo’s four bank accounts. The condo board president said he had continually requested a full accounting of board’s operating funds and Pineda made excuses until he went to the bank himself and discovered that hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds had been depleted, the reports said. When the King David did a financial audit of their accounts, it was discovered that between $140,000 and $400,000 in condo funds had been embezzled by Pineda using electronic fund transfers and debit card withdrawals at Miccosukee Gaming and Resort, the reports said.

Former GardaWorld employee convicted after $390,000 was stolen from an armored truck

On Thursday, a Helena man who worked for GardaWorld was convicted by a jury on multiple charges. John Gregory Alexander Herrin, 30, was accused of taking money stolen from a GardaWorld truck and spending it on gambling and shopping in Las Vegas, day trading and traveling to France according to a release from the Department of Justice. The release says while in Missoula, Helena employees kept their truck locked, but unattended, several times while servicing banks and ATMs before going to Kalispell. When the employees arrived in Kalispell, they discovered three bags containing $390,000 were missing. An internal investigation was launched by the company, however, they were unable to definitively implicate anyone in the theft.

Not long after the theft, Herrin’s financial situation drastically changed. According to the release, Herrin went to Las Vegas twice in January 2014 and again in July 2014. While in Las Vegas the first time, Herrin stated at a high-end casino and went shopping with a woman. Herrin made large cash deposits at the casino and paid $22,600 in cash for a watch. After coming back from his first trip, Herrin deposited a cashier’s check and cash into his checking account totaling $160,870. Herrin told the bank teller he went to Las Vegas with $500 and won $160,000 gambling. One former employee who was also a roommate of Herrin indicated that Herrin showed him a casino check for gambling he appeared to have won in January 2014. Herrin’s roommate also said employees sometimes left Garda trucks unattended against company policy, and that a broom handle could be used to unlock the trucks and that he had seen Herrin unlock a truck using a broom handle.

Irvine financial firm co-founder gets prison for fraud 

The co-founder of an Irvine-based financial services and insurance company was sentenced Tuesday to more than 10 years in federal prison for his role in carrying out a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme. Mehmet Faith Biyikoglu, of Palm Desert, was sentenced to 121 months behind bars and ordered to pay approximately $3.5 million in restitution in connection to a scheme aimed at “elderly, retired or financially unsophisticated” victims, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. According to federal prosecutors, the scheme was carried out between 2014 and 2016 while Biyikoglu served as chief executive officer of Five Star Financial Services of America, an Irvine-based financial advisory firm.

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