A Brief Look at Crime 06/29 – 07/05

Now betting giant WILL have to pay £3.5million fine over death of addict 

The gambling giant accused of using a ‘blatant’ legal loophole to dodge a £3.5million fine for their role in a young man’s suicide performed a dramatic U-turn this morning. Chris Bruney, from Sheffield, took his own life hours after being plied with £400 of bonuses by staff at online casino Winner.co.uk, which is owned by Playtech. The 25-year-old lost £119,000 in the five days before his death but was still allowed to gamble. This morning, in a victory for the Mail, Playtech bowed to pressure and said it would pay the fine in full and offer a personal apology to the family of Mr Bruney. It followed howls of outrage from Mail readers, MPs, charities and even a Church of England Bishop after the details were published in this newspaper.

After an 18-month investigation the regulator found there were ‘serious systemic failings’ in the way the firm, called PT Entertainment Services (PTES), managed social responsibility and anti-money laundering processes. Winner failed to ask whether Mr Bruney was happy with his gambling or could afford his losses, as required by industry rules, it was ruled. The Commission said: ‘If the licence had not been surrendered the Commission would have imposed a financial penalty of £3.5million,’ adding that the breaches constituted a ‘criminal offence’.

Woman Gets 17 Years for 5-Year-Old Grandson’s Hot-Car Death

An Oklahoma  woman was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to a murder charge for leaving her 5-year-old grandson to die inside a hot car while she gambled at a casino. Alanna Jean Orr, 50, was sentenced Thursday to 210 months in federal prison, U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Downing said. According to court records, Orr was caring for her grandson on June 21, 2018, when she went to a casino in Harrah, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Oklahoma City. Authorities said Orr left the boy inside her car for six hours as temperatures reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius.) Orr pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder by child neglect in Indian Country. She had faced up to life in prison.

Second person charged with murder in pregnant woman’s death 

Winston-Salem police, with the help of the U.S. Marshals Service, arrested and charged a second person with murder in the shooting death of a pregnant woman. Marshals arrested 29-year-old Quintin Martin Searcy Thursday in Florence, South Carolina. Searcy is charged with murder. On May 30, local authorities arrested 27-year-old Lashanda Tolliver in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on a murder charge as well.

An autopsy showed McGee was pregnant at the time of her death. As protests against racial injustice enveloped Winston-Salem since George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, demonstrators have also protested the prevalence of crime in Winston-Salem. Some protest organizers have publicly said McGee was killed after winning thousands of dollars gambling. When asked to verify that information, Winston-Salem police officer Lt. Gregory Dorn said he could not, and that the gambling motive is hearsay.

Grand Rapids bookkeeper accused of stealing $200,000 from family business 

A Grand Rapids woman is accused of embezzling more than $200,000 from her family’s store in order to gamble and pay off credit card debts. The Grand Rapids Police Department was notified in November 2018 that Gillson was suspected of stealing “a large amount of money over the past few years.” Gillson, the sister of Rusty Eichorn, had been asked to leave employment as the store’s sole bookkeeper because it was believed she was taking merchandise without paying for it. But the cash theft was not discovered until a new accountant took over. Police discovered Gillson had at least 12 active credit cards from 2016 to 2018, making significant payments during that time that “nearly equal or surpass Gillson’s legitimate income during these years.” She also “spent heavily” at area casinos and, at one point, on a trip to Las Vegas. At White Oak Casino in Deer River, her player’s club card indicated she wagered $136,556 in 2017 alone, losing more than $10,500 by year’s end.

Customer says he was harmed by Argosy worker

A 65-year-old man is suing Argosy Casino Hotel and Spa, alleging he was hospitalized by a casino employee, who allegedly had a prior history of threatening and engaging in harmful contact with others while on the job. According to the six-page civil suit filed with the Platte County Circuit Court, Joel Hale of Kansas City was approached and questioned by Leonard Reed, an employee of Argosy, on May 27, 2018. While visiting the gambling facility, Hale was specifically asked if he had his wallet. He told Reed that he did not. According to the allegations, Reed allegedly tried to “pat-down” Hale and instructed him to put his hands behind his back. When Hale rebuffed, Reed slammed Hale to the floor and proceeded to handcuff him, the suit says. Reed led Hale to a private office, which lacked video surveillance. 

According to the lawsuit, as a result of his injuries Hale struggled to even walk. Eventually, emergency medical personnel were called to the scene, rendered assistance and loaded Hale into an ambulance. He was taken to an area hospital. As the suit tells it, Reed “employed force that was more than reasonably necessary.” The suit accuses the Missouri Gaming Company, who is doing business as Argosy Casino Hotel and Spa, of negligent hiring and employing a man who has a “propensity to harm” customers. “Despite Argosy’s capacity to know of Reed’s dangerous proclivities, it employed Reed, anyway, and further, continued to employ him,” the suit says. Argosy Casino had a duty of care and bears responsibility to protect its customers from harm, according to allegations in the lawsuit.

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


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