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.

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