A Brief Look at Crime 03/22 – 03/28

Sports gambler Benjamin Tucker Patz pleads guilty to threatening to kill Rays players

A sports gambler pleaded guilty on Wednesday to threatening to kill four Tampa Bay Rays players via Instagram direct messages after a loss in 2019, authorities said via NBC News. Benjamin Tucker Patz is a 24-year-old gambler known as “Parlay Patz” for reportedly winning more than $1.1 million via parlays He pleaded guilty to transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He was initially charged one year ago. He told one player “0-5 against the Chicago White Sox isn’t going to cut it” and threatened that “because of your sins” Patz would behead him and his family, authorities said. Authorities wrote in the release that Patz “sent the messages knowing that they would be viewed by the player and his family members as a true threat to injure the person of another.”

Zynga Hit With Lawsuit Over “Illegal” Social Slots Games 

On Friday in the Northern District of California, a consumer filed a class-action complaint against video game developer Zynga Inc. over its social slots video games that purportedly violate various California laws. According to the complaint, Zynga leadership “decided that the company should move in the direction of online gambling.” Accordingly, “(a)fter Zynga recognized the profitability of modeling its online games after the gambling industry, Zynga began developing and offering ‘social slots’ games.” The complaint defines “social slots” games as “virtual slot machines that allow users to make bets using virtual ‘coins.’” Reportedly, some of Zynga’s current social slots games are: “Hit it Rich!”; “Black Diamond Casino”; “Wizard of Oz Slots”; “Willy Wonka Slots”; “Game of Thrones Slots Casino.”

The plaintiff claimed that Zynga “intentionally modeled its ‘social slots’ games precisely after Vegas-style slot machines. Users make ‘bets’ on ‘spins’ using in-game currency. Users are given an initial allotment of free in-game currency. But when users exhaust their supplies of free in-game currency, they must purchase more to keep playing – and must do so with real money.” As a result, the plaintiff contended that Zynga’s “social slots” games “are unlawful slot machines under California law,” that purportedly use the “same psychological tricks that casinos and physical slot machines use to cause users to become addicted. This keeps users playing – and spending.” Allegedly, Zynga markets these social slots games as “legal video games” without disclosing that they are “in fact illegal slot machines.”

Former Joplin bank branch manager pleads guilty to embezzlement

A former manager of a Guaranty Bank branch in Joplin has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $158,000 from her employer over a six-month period. Kendra E. Richardson, 44, who in July of last year was sent a target letter by the U.S. attorney’s office in connection with the crime, waived formal indictment on the charge and pleaded guilty to embezzlement at a hearing Thursday in federal court in Springfield. Her plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield states that she was a manager for a Guaranty Bank branch in Joplin when she embezzled $158,154.45 between June and December 2018. According to the plea agreement, she was able to conceal the theft through her control of regular audits of the currency in the bank’s vault and her misrepresentation of the true amounts present there at various times. The document further states that she “used a large portion of the embezzled money for gambling.” The plea agreement contains an admission of the defendant that she owes the bank restitution of the full amount that she is accused of having taken.

Minnesota casino employee pleads guilty to pocketing $315K from tribal organization

An employee for the Fortune Bay Resort Casino in Tower, Minn., pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing more than $315,000 from the Indian Tribal Organization through a phony cash-refund scheme. Jennifer Lynn Boutto, 32, worked as a front desk clerk at the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa-owned casino, a position that allowed her to give cash refunds to customers with little oversight. In 2013, Boutto started identifying high-roller patrons and issuing phony cash refunds against their invoices after they checked out, according to the plea agreement, filed in Minnesota U.S. District Court. Then she took the money from the casino vault and pocketed it. Over seven years, Boutto enacted the scheme almost 3,000 times, stealing $315,740, according to court records. The plea agreement recommends up to two years in prison and $75,000 in restitution. She will be sentenced later this year.

Security Officer, Employee Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide at Las Vegas Casino 

A Wynn Las Vegas security officer and an employee of the hotel-casino are dead in what police say was an apparent murder-suicide in a parking garage at the Strip location on Tuesday. An employee who had not been at work or called in for two days used his company badge to enter the employee garage Tuesday, police said. Use of the “proxy” card alerted security that the employee was on the site. A security officer who went to check on him was shot multiple times, said Lt. Ray Spencer of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Police were called to the scene at about 5:45 pm. The employee was seated in his car when he shot the security officer. The officer was standing at the car door, Spencer said in a news conference Tuesday night. The officer was pronounced dead at the scene. After shooting the security officer, the employee got out of his car and shot himself once, Spencer said. He also was pronounced dead at the scene.

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