A Brief Look at Crime 04/27 – 05/03

Woman stole $50K from Hempfield medical technology firm

State police this week arrested a Greensburg woman on multiple charges of access device fraud and theft for allegedly embezzling about $50,000 from her former employer. Traci L. Himler, 48, is accused of writing checks to herself and making unauthorized bank withdrawals when she worked as business manager of HLH Stem, a Hempfield medical technology firm, between October 2018 and November 2019. Company officials in November noticed discrepancies in bank accounts regarding checks Himler “was writing for the business and in her paychecks,” Trooper Christopher Cole alleges in court documents filed before District Judge Mark Mansour. Business co-owner, Daniel Pepock, told troopers that Himler “was paying herself well above her ($42,000 annual salary),” court records said.

In an interview with Cole and Trooper Brandon Yeager, Cole said Himler admitted the thefts saying that “she had a lot of debt” when she first went to work for the company in the fall of 2018. She told troopers that medical expenses “put her behind financially.” During the period, accountants discovered she increased her $3,500 monthly salary to $4,500. According to court documents, troopers also questioned Himler about multiple ATM withdrawals made at sites where weekly bingo games are held in the area and at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. “(Himler) then indicated that she also has a gambling problem. She indicated that she would go about twice a month spending about $1,000 each trip,” Cole wrote.

Gambling Addict Leaves Baby in Hot Car to Play Bingo

A mother has left her 14-month old son in a sweltering hot car while she went to play bingo leaving the child fighting for his life. The Australian gambling addict abandoned her child in temperatures exceeding 40 degree Celsius for a period of five hours and was known to be a long-time regular at the slot machine venue. The 32-year-old mother had been seen periodically checking on the child before returning inside. On returning to the car she found the baby unresponsive and called on bystanders to help her perform CPR until medical assistance arrived. Campaigners immediately blamed a spiralling gambling problem in the state of Victoria citing a lack of support from the government. Others took aim at what they described as a weak justice system that fails to protect the innocent. The incident took place less than a month after the Australian government started a campaign to highlight the awareness of leaving young children in cars outside. Temperatures can easily exceed 47 degrees Celsius after a single hour.

Woman charged with embezzling money from Catholic Cemeteries

A woman has been charged with embezzling nearly $60,000 from Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes. On Tuesday, Maricopa County prosecutors filed charges against Lisa Sue Gonwa, 53, for theft and fraud. Prosecutors say that Gonwa worked for Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes, which is operated by the Diocese of Phoenix, as an accounting clerk and data entry supervisor. In the fall of 2017, a customer contacted Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes regarding a possible overcharge.

They provided information regarding three money orders used to pay the contract in full. The company contacted their bank and allegedly found out that the “pay to” section of the money orders were changed to Gonwa’s name. Investigators say an analysis of business records showed 125 altered money orders, totaling over $58,000, were deposited into Gonwa’s personal account. When questioned, Gonwa did not recall altering the money orders but did acknowledge her signature endorsing the money orders. She also allegedly told police that she had excessive medical bills, a title loan, and gambling debts.

Upper Saddle River man accused of impersonating bankers in $4M credit scheme

U.S. attorneys say a Bergen County man impersonated prominent bankers and fleeced four business organizations and their financial agents for millions in credit lines that didn’t exist. Matthew O’Callaghan, 43, of Upper Saddle River was arrested Thursday on charges that he assumed the false identities of the president and vice president of a national bank and offered credit lines to various American and international companies, as well as financial institutions that represent them, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In return, his victims paid almost $4 million in fees deposited directly into a private account at the bank he had pretended to represent over four years, from 2016 until 2019, attorneys said. O’Callaghan allegedly used the fees to fund a “lavish lifestyle,” according to a copy of his indictment, that included payments to a private club, an automobile, globetrotting and gambling.

Blackjack Winners Shot and Robbed After Masked Gunmen Followed Them Home from Maryland Casino

Details have emerged of a violent robbery following big Blackjack wins at the MGM National Harbor casino in Maryland last December, one player shot in the arm as the robbers stole $39,000 from him. Three suspects in the crime have been identified, first reported by the Washington Post, although the names of the victims and alleged perpetrators have not been released. It appears to have been a co-ordinated hit by the armed robbers, CCTV footage of them following two winning Blackjack players through the casino to the parking garage, and then 20 miles by car to the victims’ homes in Woodbridge, Virginia, before attacking them. The victims had won $39,000 and $3,000 respectively at the tables on December 19th, 2019 before their horrific ordeal.

Surveillance footage shows the suspects communicating via mobile phones as they followed the two marks and footage from a gas station CCTV camera en route later shows a grey SUV similar to the masked attackers’ car still on their tail. What happened next was harrowing for the victims, one being struck in the head 20 times before being shot in the arm. The second victim also had a gun pulled on him and forced to lie on the ground. Both victims are said to be recovering from the attack.

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