Monthly Archives: August 2020

Cell Phone Data seemingly indicates travel to Las Vegas for Gambling might be a major contributor for continued Covid- 19 Spread

Casino Watch Focus has reported on all the various impacts coronavirus has had on gambling this year.  The country has gone through one lock down and many areas regressed back after initial attempts to reopen.  Las Vegas has gone through its own reopening experience and not without controversy.  Recently, the city was seen as providing regulations that set the maximum occupancy of churches at only 50 total people, while allowing companies like casinos to set their  occupancy to be set at a whopping 50%.  Beyond the calls and concerns for double standards, many wondered how the draw of this much gambling capacity would impact those coming to the area and then traveling back home, potentially with Covid-19 in tow to spread back home.  New Cellphone data was examined and concludes there is a potentially huge impact to prolonging the pandemic.  The Reno Gazette Journal reports:

An analysis of smartphone data during four days, a Friday to Monday in mid-July, revealed how most of the U.S. is connected to Las Vegas – a likely hot spot of COVID-19 spread.

During that time frame, about 26,000 devices were identified on The Strip, according to data mined by the companies X-Mode and Tectonix. Some of those smartphones then traveled to every state on the mainland except Maine.

The cellphone analysis highlights a reason the virus keeps spreading and shows how travel to Las Vegas could be fueling the pandemic, according to health officials.

“In this rush to reopen and reposition the economic activities, all we’ve been doing is spreading and amplifying the reach of this disease,” said Oscar Alleyne, an epidemiologist and chief program officer with the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Six public health experts told ProPublica that casinos are a high-risk environment for COVID-19 – “a feeding ground for COVID-19. “There is a serious opportunity for spreading the virus, especially for people who are mildly sick or don’t know they’re sick,” said Crystal Watson, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “We’ve seen big outbreaks kicked off by these types of situations.”

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


A Brief Look at Crime 8/17 – 8/23

LA Man Accused Of Fraudulently Obtaining $9M In PPP Loans, Spending Hundreds Of Thousands Gambling In Vegas

Beverly Grove man was being held without bond Thursday after being arrested on federal charges alleging that he fraudulently obtained millions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program loans, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. Prosecutors said they now believe he received approximately $9 million in fraudulent loans. They also believe that number could rise as the investigation continues.

According to court documents, Marnell submitted fraudulent loan applications that made numerous false and misleading statements about the companies’ business operations and payroll expenses. Court documents also allege that Marnell, often using aliases, submitted fake and altered documents, including federal tax filings and employee payroll records. The complaint further alleged that Marnell transferred millions of dollars from the fraudulently obtained loan proceeds to his brokerage accounts to make risky stock market bets and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino and other gambling establishments “as recently as last weekend.”

Chicago butcher faces five years in prison for sports betting operation

A Chicago butcher, previously accused of being involved with unlicensed sports bookmaking, is now being accused of even more. 63-year-old Dominic Poeta, who previously had to fight a civil case over the matter, now faces federal criminal charges. According to charged filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Poeta stands accused of “unlawfully operated a business that provided sports betting and wagering services, both domestically and abroad.” On top of that, they also accuse that he filed false federal income tax returns, showing $81,609 in income from his Highwood meat and Italian food market, but nothing from his sports betting operation.

A few months into the Covid-19 pandemic, Governor J.B. Pritzker relaxed online gambling regulations, allowing residents of the state to register online for sports betting, something which had previously been restricted to those who could sign up in person at a casino. That cleared the way to operations like DraftKings and BetRivers to offer sports betting online in the state. Poeta’s charges are for the period of 2014-2018, but before that, Poeta was allegedly involved with sports betting for quite a long time. As early as 2001, Poeta was named as someone who was illegally taking wagers from Adam Resnick, an author and former writer for Late Night with David Letterman. Of the association, Poeta said: “I’m the guy who hooked him up,” Poeta said of Resnick. “I hooked him up with guys in our area. When he got too big for them, I hooked him up with guys in Vegas. I was just a go-between. He would take checks to me. And I would cash them. They didn’t want checks.

Man charged for multi-million dollar crypto scheme

Douglas Jae Woo Kim of New York City was arrested last Thursday, July 16th, on charges of wire fraud in connection to a scheme that planned on defrauding investors out of $4.5 million in crypto assets. According to the news release by the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California, 27-year-old Kim led his friends and family to believe that he was trading cryptocurrencies and requested loans for business purposes, so as to help him conduct more trades. The report provides an outline of how Kim used Ethereum  and Bitcoin to finance transactions for the scheme. It also explains how Kim transferred victim funds to online gambling sites without their knowledge on more than one occasion. 

After Kim received funds from the victim, he proceeded to transfer around half of the bitcoin to a casino and a sportsbook located outside the United States. The release reveals how Kim managed to raise more than $4.5 million from his victims in crypto assets, with nearly all of these funds being funneled into gambling sites. The defendant has been charged with one count of wire fraud and if convicted, faces up to 20 years in prison.

Man killed in parking garage at Florida’s Hard Rock Casino 

Authorities are searching for suspects after a Florida man was gunned down in the parking lot of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Seminole Police say 37-year-old Pierre Jules LaCroze was shot and killed after driving onto the sixth floor of the parking garage shortly after midnight Thursday. Authorities say they want to talk to two men and a woman captured on surveillance video coming off an escalator and entering the casino. They’re also looking into the car the three left in. The Miami Herald reports the compact four-door gray sedan is missing its right side hubcaps has a burned out left brake light.

Former supervisor at Miccosukee Tribe’s casino gets four years for $5 million caper 

A former supervisor at the Miccosukee Tribe’s gaming complex was sent to prison Monday for a casino caper that churned out more than $5 million. Lester Lavin was sentenced to just over four years in prison and his girlfriend, Anisleydi Vergel Hermida, 31, to six months for helping him launder his cut of the stolen money, prosecutors said. Lavin, 44, of Miami Beach, pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal the funds, commit computer fraud and money laundering. Hermida, 31, pleaded only to the laundering charge. Last year, the couple and six others were charged in federal court with a scheme that involved tampering with electronic gaming machines at the West Miami-Dade casino, prosecutors said. The other defendants have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Four former Miccosukee employees, including Lavin, a video supervisor, rigged the gaming machines to generate credit vouchers falsely showing winnings that they then exchanged for cash at ATM machines on the casino floor, according to an indictment. They also converted some vouchers to cash through cashiers at the casino. The 63-count indictment charged the eight defendants with conspiracies involving computer fraud, embezzlement and money laundering.

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

Timely US based Class Action Lawsuit Claims EA Loot Boxes are Gambling as Study examines the link between Loot Boxes, Accessibility, and Problem Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on loot boxes in video games and how more and more jurisdictions are treating them like gambling and regulating them accordingly.  Most recently, a California law was used to push lawsuits against Apple and Google for loot boxes allowed through games in their app stores.  Now, EA, the publisher best known for kicking off the media and social campaigns that outlined and revealed loot boxes and gambling to the world through its Star Wars game Battlefront II, is facing a $5 million class action lawsuit.  Specifically, the class action is citing one of EA’s most profitable games, Fifa Ultimate Team.  An online source explains:

Video Games Chronicle reports Kevin Ramirez filed the class action lawsuit with the Northern District of California on the behalf of 100 other plaintiffs. In the suit, they allege EA “relies on creating addictive behaviors in consumers to generate huge revenues.” They specifically call out EA’s Ultimate Team Packs, which allow gamers to assemble their favorite teams for online play, saying they “are predatory and designed to entice gamers to gamble.” They go on to add:

“EA’s Ultimate Team Packs are Loot Boxes. Buying the Packs are nothing more than a gambling bet. Purchased using real money, the Ultimate Team Packs are simply wagers on completely randomized chances within the game to win valuable professional players and other items for the EA gamer’s virtual sports team.”

They will have to prove that loot boxes rise to the level of California’s definition of gambling. That definition defines a gambling  device as “a machine, aperture, or device; something of value is given to play; and the player may receive something of value by element of chance.” The lawsuit goes on to say:

“None of these elements can be in dispute. A gamer uses his console, computer, smartphone or tablet with the EA sports franchise game on it (#1); the gamer pays real-world currency for the opportunity to open an Ultimate Team Pack (#2); and the Ultimate Team Pack is a randomized chance to win something valuable in-game.”

The timing of this particular class action lawsuit is of particular note given a recent study that examined the relationship between loot box purchases and gambling problems.  The study draws a parallel between gambling problems and access to loot boxes.  The study doesn’t claim that loot boxes will lead to problem gambling, but that those who suffer from problem gambling issues will engage in loot boxes.  Given how widely accessible they are to gamers, this makes the responsibility to regulate them appropriately even more clear.  An online source explains:

A new study from CQUniversity Australia has found that gamers who purchase loot boxes are more likely to have gambling problems… The study looked at 2,000 gamers between the ages of 12 and 24, and over 93% had played a video game that contained loot boxes in the past year. The majority of respondents agreed that loot boxes have some sort of addictive quality, and one third said they regularly purchased them. In fact, adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 spent a median of $50 on loot boxes. Parents are often unsure as to what loot boxes even are and, because of this, the study calls for increased monitoring and enhanced public awareness campaigns by the gaming industry.

Worse yet, researchers Dr. Alex Russell and Professor Matthew Rockloff found that 62% of the best-selling games now include loot boxes — including /Angry Birds/ and /Counter-Strike/. They point out that many of the most valuable rewards are often resold online for real cash, further blurring the line between loot boxes and gambling.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/10 – 8/16

Tennesseans Among Top Traffickers of Birds to Guam, Mexico, and the Philippines for Illegal Cockfighting

The three Tennessee-based operators who signed shipping records, obtained by AWA and AWF, to Guam are Lee Best of Athens, Ronnie Patterson of Manchester, and Tom Wilson, also of Athens. Shipments to Guam are just indicators of a far brisker trade in fighting birds to other jurisdictions, including Mexico, the Philippines, and other global cockfighting hotspots. Mr. Patterson even hosted two Guamanian cockfighters on his farm, according to images obtained by AWA and AWF. The shippers who sold to Guam typically use the U.S. Postal Service to transport the birds, packing the live animals into boxes and sending them 8,000 miles from Tennessee to Guam in the cargo holds with multiple stops and without food or water.

Tennessee is only one of eight states without felony-level penalties for cockfighting, despite a long history of illegal animal fighting. The FBI shut down two major cockfighting complexes in Cocke County in 2005, asserting that local law enforcement there had been corrupted and cockfighting was tied together with prostitution, narcotics, chop shops, and gambling by children. Some years later, there was a series of other cockfighting pits raided but the fighting and the possession of animals for fighting thrives, and prior law enforcement actions have not been sufficient to deter the crimes. Possessing and shipping birds for cockfighting have been banned under federal law since 2002 and has been a felony since 2007, when President George W. Bush signed the enhanced penalty provisions into law and also criminalized the sale of cockfighting implements.

‘Persistent’ cockfighting in eastern Tennessee worrisome during the COVID-19 pandemic, animal welfare officials say 

“It’s much more than just a couple of birds fighting,” he said. “This is a very, very violent activity … as a legislator … I am disappointed in the findings.” The groups wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey for the Eastern District of Tennessee urging him to investigate three breeders — two from Athens and one from Manchester. Many of the birds are outfitted with knives before fighting begins and drugs are often bought and sold at the cockfights, Sen. Lundberg said.

Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, said many diseases that afflict human beings start in animals and jump the species barrier, which is called zoonotic transmission. For example, COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease thought to have originated in Chinese horseshoe bats before spreading to humans, possibly with a stop in a different animal in-between. The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 was caused by an influenza virus with genes of avian origin, and the world’s last flu pandemic — the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009 — began when a virus jumped from pigs to humans.

85-year-old involved in illegal sports gambling ring pleads guilty

This past February, ten people were indicted in the U.S. for their participation in an illegal sports gambling ring out of Illinois, including the mayor of Mattawa, Casey Urlacher. Urlacher is the brother of Brian Urlacher, a former linebacker for the Chicago Bears, and is also a former linebacker from the Arena Football League. Involved in the activity was Eugene “Geno” DelGiudice, who has now had his day in court, virtually due to the coronavirus.  The 85-year-old appeared before a judge last Thursday, pleading guilty for his creative entrepreneurship. DelGiudice will have to wait until this October to find out what will happen to him, and he could face up to five years behind bars. 

[L]aw enforcement officials served a warrant on “Uncle Mick’s” home, where they discovered over $1.1 million in cash, around $500,000 in jewelry and bars of pure silver. It isn’t clear from the news offered by the Chicago Sun-Times if all of the assets came from the illegal gambling outfit, but the odds are good. DelGiudice admitted to the judge that the sportsbook intermediary had been operating from 2016 to 2019 and that it had generated millions of dollars in revenue.

Wirecard: Disgraced Payment Processor Accused of Transaction Laundering for Online Gambling

Embattled German payments processor Wirecard was suspected of using bogus online stores to hide illegal gambling transactions. Munich-based Wirecard filed for insolvency last month amid allegations of fraud and financial wrongdoing. In June, auditor Ernst and Young discovered that €1.9 billion ($2.15 billion USD) was “missing” from company coffers, which led to the immediate resignation of CEO Markus Braun. Just days later, the Wirecard board announced that the “prevailing likelihood” was that the €1.9 billion never existed at all. On June 22, a criminal investigation was launched amid suspicion that Wirecard’s accounts had been falsified to artificially inflate the company’s assets and sales. That was designed to make it more attractive to investors and customers. Munich prosecutors arrested Braun on the same day.

The federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act 2006 (UIGEA) makes it an offense for a financial institution to process payments for online gambling where it is illegal under federal or state law. Paul Paolucci — a vice-president at Mastercard, and Howard Fields, head of anti-money laundering — “received evidence that their network was allegedly being compromised by transaction laundering,” according to The Times.

Convicted Aurora bookmaker must forfeit more than $600,000 in proceeds from gambling ring

An Aurora bookmaker must forfeit more than $600,000 that authorities found in his home, proceeds that they say came from a large-scale gambling ring. U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan on Wednesday sentenced Ryan Driscoll, 46, to probation for three years on charges of money laundering, filing a false tax return and operating an illegal gambling business.  Gaughan also ordered him to pay $208,693 in restitution. That is in addition to the $628,950 that agents seized during a search warrant of his home last August. Prosecutors said in documents that Driscoll had large quantities of cash in bundles of $10,000. Prosecutors said that Driscoll underreported his income by more than $825,000 for the tax years 2014 through 2017. He filed a false income tax return in 2018 that prosecutors said failed to mention the proceeds from his illegal gambling business.

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

IRS Issues new Federal Tax Requirements for Fantasy Sports impacting FanDuel and DraftKings beyond the economics of the tax revenue

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing issues with one of the newest gambling fads, daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting.  After many years of legislators realizing how exactly DFS is actually gambling, many took efforts to ban them.  Then, the Supreme Court legalized sports betting, opening the door for states to legalize DFS as they saw fit. Now, the IRS has published its guidelines for the tax liability companies like FanDuel and Draftkings face as a result of their gambling business.  Yahoo Finance reports:

he IRS, in a July 23 internal memo made public on Aug. 7, issued new guidance that amounts to a major shot across the bow at daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators DraftKings and FanDuel.

The memo, which does not name those companies, concludes that DFS contest entry fees count as wagers, and thus fall under the existing excise tax on sports betting. The tax is 0.25% of the amount of a wager, or for DFS companies, a contest entry fee. In 2018, as an example, the DFS industry brought in $3.2 billion in fees  (that’s “handle,” not revenue), which would have meant $8 million in IRS excise taxes—significant for an industry that only generated $335 million in revenue that year.

The implications of such regulation actually extend beyond the simple tax revenue that companies owe.  The money owed will add up sure, but it’s the fact that paying the fees means the industry is stipulating that they are, in fact, gambling operations.  Even though it’s rather clear they are, they have long fought this distinction.  Their worry here is that acknowledgement in the tax code to being a gambling business will open them up to other gambling regulations that they would rather avoid clearly.  Yahoo Finance explains:

The companies will surely fight the IRS decision in court, a scenario that will reunite the two business rivals that worked together through 2015 and 2016 as they fought various state attorneys general to argue that their contests are “games of skill” rather than chance.

The companies won’t challenge the IRS merely because they want to avoid paying the taxes, but also because they have to challenge it on a reputation basis: agreeing to pay the taxes could amount to a concession that they do accept unauthorized wagers, which could open up the companies to additional legal penalties.

Back in 2015, as ESPN reported a former assistant U.S. attorney sent the IRS a letter about his belief that DFS companies “are clearly engaged in betting or wagering for purposes of the wagering excise tax.” If the IRS prevails, it would cost the two companies tens of millions of dollars—especially if a tax court decides the decision applies retroactively.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/03 – 8/09

Million-dollar online gambling ring busted 

An online gambling ring worth over VND20 trillion ($859.6 million) in northern Hung Yen Province was recently busted, leading to 20 arrests. The ring, operating millions of accounts since 2018, is the largest in Hung Yen yet uncovered, provincial police said Thursday. Upon the bust, police seized several mobile phones, computers, SIM cards and around VND2 billion ($85,963) in cash as evidence. Authorities also  froze over 100 bank accounts involved in the case. The four masterminds managed five level-one agencies via five different gambling websites, with its server located outside Vietnam. Each website would have around 20 level-one agencies assigned to it, and each level-one agency would have dozens of level-two agencies below, all spread across the country. These agencies all display gamblers’ personal info like phone numbers or social media accounts publicly, so that players can get in touch with each other and perform transactions. The investigation is ongoing.

Sarasota-Bradenton area insurance agents charged in $6.3M Ponzi scheme 

A pair of Sarasota-Bradenton area licensed insurance agents — one who goes by the name the Annuity King on some online ads — have been charged in a $6.3 million Ponzi scheme that allegedly targeted elderly victims to liquidate traditional investments and invest with their company. Wasserman, authorities contend, spent a significant amount of the victim-investors’ money to finance a lavish lifestyle. Expenses allegedly included luxury residences, high-end vehicles, jet skis, jewelry, entertainment, gambling, retail shopping, home improvements, personal insurance and more. He also used proceeds, authorities say, for the benefit of family members. Wasserman and Rossman each face a maximum penalty of 20 years on each of the six counts charged in the indictment if convicted on all counts. The Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation investigated the case.

Lincoln man gets probation, jail time for embezzling $130K from brewery equipment maker

The 38-year-old former project manager at Alpha Brewing Operations has been sentenced to five years’ probation for embezzling more than $130,000 over his two years with the company. Lancaster County District Judge Andrew Jacobsen sentenced him Tuesday to the probation term and 90 days in jail to be served next year. Bunger had worked as a project manager at Alpha Brewing from June 2017 until his dismissal June 24, 2019. In an affidavit for Bunger’s arrest, police said he had directed the proceeds from sales of inventory and service fees into his personal accounts for a $132,043 loss to the company. When asked about it, Bunger admitted to taking the money because of a gambling problem. Alpha Brewing is a Lincoln business that makes craft brewing and canning equipment.

Gaming regulators: 111 cases for violations in month after Las Vega casino reopenings

Gaming regulators have 111 cases of violations to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s emergency directive, according to a Wednesday news release. Whether casinos are in danger of having their gaming licenses suspended or revoked is unclear. The Gaming Control Board has not specified where the violations took place — only that they have 111 open cases that followed extensive checks since the Declaration of Emergency Directive was put in place before casinos reopened on June 4. Among the violations that fall under the directive: face coverings for employees, and several rules that apply to sanitation practices and social distancing. The governor’s order requiring more widespread use of face masks came on June 24.

Minnesota Woman Sentenced to 4 Years in Ginseng Scam

A Minnesota woman has been sentenced to more than four years in prison after pleading guilty in an elaborate ginseng farm fraud scheme, prosecutors said Wednesday. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Mai Vang, 51, of Brooklyn Center pleaded guilty Tuesday to theft-by-swindle charges. Vang also must pay restitution of more than $480,000 to the nine victims she defrauded. Vang had eluded arrest for two years after charges were filed against her in 2017. She was found in Georgia  in March and extradited to Minnesota. Prosecutors said Vang convinced members of Minnesota’s Hmong community to invest in a ginseng farm she claimed to own near Wausau, Wisconsin. One couple who knew Vang from church gave her their life savings. Vang allegedly spent money from the victims to gamble at a casino.

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

As states like Florida end Greyhound Racing, a new Federal Bill has been filed

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing situation in Florida regarding greyhound racing and the most recent ban of live races by Florida voters.  Several states have made similar efforts to end an industry that many view as problematic in the area of animal treatment and rights and unnecessary as a gambling device.  Calls have come for a more uniform, federal solution, and the first step in such a journey is now underway.  As an online source reports:

U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., introduced House Resolution 7826 on July 29. The bill, also called the Greyhound Protection Act, would amend the Wire Act to prohibit gambling on commercial greyhound races. The bill would also prohibit gambling on open-field coursing where greyhounds and sighthounds are judged on their ability to chase down hares.

“Greyhound racing is cruel and must end,” Cardenas said in a statement. “My bill allows for a sensible wind-down of an already-declining industry that will ultimately outlaw greyhound racing. As a longtime animal welfare advocate, I am committed to always speaking up for the voiceless.”

U.S. Rep. Carenas takes the position that the industry is on its way out naturally, so he wants to establish a method for phasing the industry out in a way that is not only advantageous for the animals, but those in the industry as well.  The online source continues:

“Greyhound racing will soon end in the United States, and this bill allows for a managed phase-out of the activity to enable planning to provide homes for the dogs and certainty for the owners, workers, and breeders in the industry,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “Greyhound racing is dying, and it’s best to manage the shutdown of the industry to allow for a soft landing for the people and the animals involved.”

GREY2K noted that greyhound racing is quickly losing the race for relevance in the 21st century. Gulf Greyhound Park, the last greyhound track in Texas, shut down last month. The Birmingham Race Course, Alabama’s last remaining track, closed in April. Southland Casino Racing in Arkansas, a Delaware North-owned property, announced last October that greyhound racing would be phased out by 2022.

In 2018, an amendment to the Florida Constitution was passed ending greyhound racing by the end of 2019, shutting down 11 racetracks in the state. The amendment was notable because Florida was the first state to legalize greyhound racing in 1931. 

“Momentum is building for a national phase out of greyhound racing,” said Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K. “Since the end of the legislative session dog racing has ended in two more states, and West Virginia will soon be the last state to sanction the activity. According to state records, more than 9,000 greyhound injuries have been reported at Mardi Gras and Wheeling since 2008, including 3,254 dogs that suffered broken bones and 420 greyhounds that died. Greyhounds also  endure lives of confinement, and some dogs are trained by being given small animals to tear apart.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/20 – 8/02

Aqueduct Racetrack security guard charged as ‘inside man’ in $280K heist

According to court documents, a security guard at Aqueduct was charged as the ‘inside man’ who posed as a victim in the robbery that occurred about 10 p.m. on the night of March 7 following the running of the Gotham Stakes. Two criminal complaints were unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Lamel Miller, 37, and Lafayette Morrison, 37, with Hobbs Act robbery in connection with the March 7, 2020 armed robbery of over $280,000 in cash from Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, Queens. Miller and Morrison were arrested earlier today.  According to documents, at approximately 9:45 p.m. following the Gotham Day races at Aqueduct, Miller and a co-conspirator held up at gunpoint several racetrack employees – including Morrison who was employed as a racetrack security guard – as they were transporting more than $280,000 in cash earnings to a vault.

200 people possibly facing felony charges after second cockfighting raid

During a raid Saturday in Midville, law enforcement officers from about nine federal and state agencies shut down a cockfighting event while it was in progress. They say 178 people attended the event and the investigations involve more than 200 potential defendants for operating or participating in animal fighting Ventures. The raid, called Operation Sunrise, began with information from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety Immigration Enforcement Unit that lead to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General. In the investigation, a cockfighting operation was discovered at a facility just south of Midville. Officials say there had already been multiple events held there this year in “an indoor arena outfitted with a fighting ring, management office, concession stand, and stadium bleachers for spectators.”

“Most people in our community rightly would be shocked to learn that the barbaric bloodsport of cockfighting still exists, is happening right in their midst, and may involve numerous other types of criminal activity,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby Christine. “But thanks to the outstanding cooperation and work of our law enforcement partners, these cruel activities and a potential bevy of other criminal activities have been dealt a significant blow in the Southern District of Georgia.”

3 shot, 1 fatally, during gambling night at Gresham home: police

A man was shot dead and two others wounded Wednesday morning during a night of drinking and gambling at a Gresham home on the South Side, Chicago police said. A witnesses told investigators he left the party to go to sleep in an upstairs bedroom when he heard gunfire on the first floor of the home in the 8000 block of South Stewart Avenue, police said. The witness found a 29-year-old man on the living room floor with a gunshot wound to his head, police said. Police responded shortly after 5 a.m. and found the man dead, along with several shell casings in the room. A 20-year-old woman was shot in the leg, police said. She was treated  and released from St. Bernard’s Hospital. An 18-year-old man took himself to Trinity Hospital with gunshots to his arm and abdomen, police said. He was transferred in fair condition to the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Camas Hotel manager charged with first-degree arson 

A man who claimed to be the owner of the historic Camas Hotel in downtown Camas is facing first-degree arson charges this week after allegedly setting fire to an unoccupied room in a bid to collect insurance money. Camas Police investigators say 30-year-old Won Dongandres Lee Kim, also known as “Brendan Lee,” the hotel’s manager, admitted to purposely setting fire to an unoccupied room in historic hotel on the morning of June 17. “(Kim) told me he is a gambling addict and had recently lost ($15,000) of his parents’ money gambling,” Camas police officer Scot Boyles stated in a probable-cause document. “He thought the insurance (money) would be a quick way to replace his parents’ money before they found out.”

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Charged in Crypto-Currency Case, U.S. Says

Jack Abramoff, the onetime Washington insider who went to prison in a lobbying scandal, was charged by the U.S. with illegally lobbying for a fraudulent cryptocurrency project. Abramoff has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act and faces as long as five years in prison, according to a court filing and U.S. Attorney David Anderson in San Francisco.

In separate complaints unveiled Thursday, prosecutors and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Abramoff misled investors while promoting a blockchain-based digital token called AML BitCoin, through the NAC Foundation. The company’s founder, Rowland Marcus Andrade, is fighting criminal charges, Anderson said. The two men claimed the security was an improvement on the original Bitcoin because it had encoded security features, including to prevent money laundering, according to the SEC’s complaint against Abramoff. They raised at least $5.6 million from about 2,400 investors, mostly in the U.S., from August 2017 through December 2018, the SEC said. The agency separately sued Andrade and NAC.

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