Monthly Archives: April 2021

New Florida Seminole Gambling Compact Reached, but the Inclusion of Sports Betting is Sure to Elicit Legal Challenges

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the years long attempts and finalizing a new gambling agreement between Florida and the Seminole Nation.  It would appear the long awaited agreement has finally been reached, but it will still need to be ratified in a special legislative session before it becomes law.  The Orlando Fox Affiliate reports:

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe finalized a 30-year gambling agreement on Friday, inking a deal that would deliver at least $2.5 billion to Florida over the next five years in exchange for giving the tribe control over statewide sports betting. Tribal leaders, including Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr., joined DeSantis in his Tallahassee office for a ceremonial signing of the deal, known as a “compact.”

“We truly believe that this is the best deal for everybody. It’s not in favor of the tribe or the state. It’s in favor of both parties, because this is a long-lasting team,” Osceola said. DeSantis noted Friday that the agreement, which requires approval by the Legislature, would allow the state to capitalize on online sport betting.

Although many are pleased to finally see a new compact agreement reached, those who oppose see the compact as a legislative overreach, as it expands gambling without a vote of the people. Florida Voters overwhelmingly passed an amendment that requires all gambling expansion in Florida to be approved by the voters.  Fox continues:   

But John Sowinski, the campaign manager of the political committee behind the amendment, said sports betting and several other provisions in the proposed compact, which would allow the Seminoles to add craps and roulette to their current casino operations, run afoul of the Constitution.

The amendment, which was approved by 71 percent of Florida voters, “requires voter approval for any new casino gambling,” Sowinski said Friday in a prepared statement.

“That includes sports gambling, player designated games, craps, roulette, moving slot machine permits, and any other form of Class III gambling,” he said, referring to federal law classifications of tribal gaming. “The proposed compact violates the letter and spirit of Amendment 3. We call on the governor and our legislators to honor the will of the people, who demanded that any new casino gambling authorization occur at the ballot box, not behind closed doors in Tallahassee.”

Gov. DeSantis said he is willing to vicariously defend the agreement, claiming that this gambling is not in Florida, as Amendment 3 covers, but the sovereign land of the Seminole Tribe.  The agreement also allows for mobile gambling, which would clearly take place by people off the reservation and on actual public land.  Gov. DeSantis claims that because the servers are on tribal land, there is no violation.  However, a similar case was heard in CA and it could hurt that very argument.  An online source explains:

They would also have to argue that statewide mobile betting, accessible to gamblers outside the Seminole reservations, does not constitute gambling expansion in the state because servers are located on Seminole land.

This potentially conflicts with a 2016 federal court ruling against the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel When, in 2014, the Nation launched an online bingo site in California on the grounds that bets were being processed on its territory, they were swiftly sued by the State of California and the federal government. Ultimately, the court ruled “a bet must be legal both where it is initiated and where it is received.”

It may never come to that. While the bill has the backing it needs in the Senate, support is less assured in the House, which has become a graveyard for gambling expansion bills in recent years.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 04/19 – 04/25

Chicago police officer pleads guilty in sports gambling case that involved Casey Urlacher

A Chicago police officer pleaded guilty Monday to his role in a multi-million dollar gambling ring in the case that led to January’s pardon of Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher by then-President Donald Trump. Nicholas Stella, 43, pleaded guilty to conspiring to conduct an illegal gambling business. He is the fifth defendant in the case to plead guilty, and the fourth since Trump pardoned Urlacher, the brother of Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher. A CPD spokesperson said Monday that Stella’s status with the department was “inactive.”

Back in January, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall ordered Stella into the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center after prosecutors alleged that he “violently assaulted his girlfriend” during an incident at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Rosemont. Kendall set Stella’s sentencing hearing for June 22. A February 2020**indictment filed against Stella, Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice, Casey Urlacher and seven others alleged that Stella was among the agents recruited by DelGiudice, who has since admitted running a gambling ring around Chicago from 2016 until 2019.

Suspect had an axe when he chased woman at QC casino

A 43-year-old East Moline man was behind bars Monday after police say he had an axe when he chased a woman at a casino. Jeromy Anderson faces a felony charge of going armed with intent, along with misdemeanor charges of carrying a weapon, disorderly conduct and domestic abuse – assault with intent or weapon. Shortly after 8 a.m. Easter Sunday, officers were called to Rhythm City Casino, 7077 Elmore Ave., Davenport, for a disturbance involving a man chasing a woman with an axe. “During the course of an altercation (with the woman) he retrieved an axe from a vehicle and chased her while brandishing the axe overhead in a threatening manner,” police said in the arrest affidavit. The victim was afraid of serious injury, police said. The incident happened in both the parking lot and inside the casino and multiple people saw it. Additionally, it was recorded on surveillance cameras.

Crooked accountant stole over £700,000 from Leeds business and spent it all on casinos and online gambling

Jamal Haider was jailed for 40 months over the offending which was carried out while he was entrusted to look after the finances at Wortley-based MechTronic Ltd. Leeds Crown Court heard Haider used “ingenious”methods to hide his offending over a nine-month period during 2016. Camille Morland, prosecuting, said Haider falsified invoices from suppliers then arranged for payments to be made from his employer’s bank account into his own account and the account of his friend. All of the stolen funds were later transferred to him. The defendant then altered payment spreadsheets to hide the deception. The court heard Haider stole a total of £744,508 before the offending came to light. An investigation was launched after HMRC contacted the company over an unpaid VAT bill for £52,000. Ms Morland said further investigation revealed Haider was spending large amounts on online gambling. A company director provided a victim statement to the court describing how the offending had put a strain on the business. Shufqat Khan, mitigating, said: “Almost every penny he was obtaining through this offending was gambled away.

Fraudster in Old Man Disguise Stole $125,000 in Casino Scam, Pleads Guilty

A Michigan man who donned prosthetic “old man” facemasks while bilking casino customers out of more than $125,000 has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and identity fraud in a federal court in Detroit. John Christopher Colletti, 56, wore a variety of latex and silicone masks while withdrawing gamblers’ money from kiosks at casinos in Michigan and Kansas between April 26, 2019, and March 12, 2020. According to prosecutors, Colletti used personal information bought from hackers online including names, driver’s license numbers, and the last four digits of Social Security Numbers. He used this to access accounts belonging to VIP Preferred program customers at the kiosks. VIP Preferred is an e-wallet for cashless wagering owned by fintech giant Global Payments. It also allows a customer to withdraw their funds in cash at the Global Payments kiosks.

Engineer embezzled £80,000 from employer to fund out-of-control gambling problem

An engineer has been jailed after embezzling more than £80,000 from his employer to fund his gambling addiction. Darren Morrison took advantage of his role within InnServe Ltd, a firm that specialises in beer and soft drinks dispense systems, and deliberately over-ordered parts and equipment, which he then sold as scrap metal. The 45-year-old over-ordered stock worth more than £80,000 between April 23 2017 and April 23 2019, and sold it for less than £13,500 to finance his addiction to gambling.

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

GUEST ARTICLE: As States Like Missouri Deals with a Surge of Illegal Gaming Machines, the American Gaming Association Outlines the Numerous Problems they Create

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing developments of illegal slot machines that have popped up all over Missouri.  These illegal gambling machines, however, have found their way into many states and pose tremendous harm.  So much so that the American Gaming Association has issued a Nationwide statement condemning them.  Below is a portion of their press release  and the full white paper can be accessed HERE:

On Monday, the American Gaming Association (AGA) released a white paper highlighting the dangers of unregulated, illegal gambling machines proliferating across the U.S. These illegal gambling machines are not subjected to meaningful testing, licensing or regulatory standards and are often tied to criminal activity, including money laundering, drug trafficking and violent crime.

Highlights of the white paper, Skilled at Deception: How Unregulated Gaming Machines Endanger Consumers and Dilute Investments in Local Economies, include:

  • Illegal gambling machines do not undergo the same stringent regulatory requirements the legal gaming industry meets, including a licensing process, game testing and reporting and responsible gaming – nor are they monitored to ensure fair play for customers. Unregulated machine operators also lack training in responsible gaming, potentially luring children and those with problem gambling behaviors to use these machines.
  • Recent raids of illegal gaming machines have been tied to drug trafficking, gang activity, violence and have also been linked to several major organized crime families.

To combat the spread of illegal machines, the report recommends:

  • Law enforcement and policymakers need to prioritize robust enforcement of laws to root out illegal and unregulated gaming machines.
  • States and communities must not authorize these machines and continue to erode regulations and permit unnecessary consumer risk.
  • Businesses should actively remove illegal and unregulated games on their properties.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 04/12 – 04/18

Man charged in fatal shooting at Motor City Casino

A 27-year-old Detroit man has been charged in connection with the fatal shooting of another man at Motor City Casino, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Wednesday. Nicholas White of Detroit is charged with first-degree murder and felony firearm in the early Monday slaying of Kermit McCants, 25, of Clinton Township. The shooting occurred around 1:48 a.m. on the second level of the Motor City Casino parking structure. White is accused of shooting McCants after the two men argued and then fled in his car. Police found McCants suffering from several gunshot wounds. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Former Ohio County Sheriff Gets 3 Years Prison for Theft

A former Ohio county sheriff who rose to prominence for the investigation of the execution-style slayings of eight family members was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for theft in office and other charges. The former Pike County sheriff was originally indicted on 18 counts that included racketeering. He pleaded guilty in September to two counts of theft in office, one count of tampering with evidence and one count of conflict of interest. Reader was accused of taking loans from sheriff’s office employees and a vendor and stealing more than $14,000 in seized drug money from evidence envelopes to fund his gambling habit. He later returned most of the money to the evidence envelopes, authorities said.

Man Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement from Pentagon Law Enforcement Union 

A Quantico man pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with a scheme to embezzle over $380,000 from his former union, which represented federal law enforcement officers at the Pentagon. “The defendant routinely embezzled money that belonged to a federal law enforcement union to fund his personal expenditures while vacationing in the Dominican Republic and to pay for his personal gambling at a casino,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “EDVA will continue to hold accountable those who steal and siphon off critical funds from our law enforcement partners. “As alleged, for years Arthur Penn stole money from funds intended to benefit his fellow law enforcement colleagues and used the money for his own personal benefit and entertainment,” said James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “The FBI and our partners are dedicated to rooting out this type of opportunistic corruption and fraud, and ensuring those who commit these crimes are brought to justice.”

Dog fights in car trunks? It’s a trend, and N.J. could soon make it a felony

A cruel trend that skirts dog fighting laws would be made a felony in New Jersey under a bill now on the governor’s desk. The bill (S975 would criminalize trunk fighting, which involves locking dogs in the trunk of a car or van and playing loud music or provoking them in another way to get aggressive and fight, and driving around until no noises are coming from the trunk. The disturbing trend began in Florida. The measure passed overwhelmingly in the state Senate and with no votes in the Assembly more than one year after it was introduced by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean.

If Gov. Phil Murphy signs the bill, trunk fighting would become a third-degree animal cruelty felony charge in New Jersey, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $15,000. “Pitting two animals against each other in a fight to the death or money is sickening enough. Now these criminals have gone mobile,” said Dancer, primary sponsor of the bill. “They have taken their gambling rings on the road in order to avoid raids by law enforcement.”

Woman Accused of Leaving Child Inside Vehicle While She Was Gambling

Tiffany Greene, 34, of Joliet was arrested by the Minooka Police Department for endangering the life or health of a child around 9 p.m. on Friday, July 10th. Minooka Police Chief Justin Meyer said officers were called to the Pilot Travel Center in Minooka where they saw a 9-year-old child in the passenger seat of a running vehicle. After an investigation, officers allegedly found the mother of the child, Greene inside the gas station playing the slot machines. Meyer said the Joliet woman was allegedly inside the gas station while the child was outside in the running vehicle for about 40 minutes. Greene was arrested and charged with endangering the life or health of a child and transported to the Minooka Police Department where she was released on an I-bond.

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

Proposed Florida Legislation Seeks to Expand Gambling Through Various Decoupling Efforts

Casino Watch Focus has reported on various efforts to expand gambling in Florida through a process known as decoupling.  Currently most gambling in Florida is either through tribal casinos or allowed at facilities that complement live horse and dog racing.  Decoupling occurs when those two items no longer need be paired in order for the gambling to be legalized.  A facility could get a gambling permit for slot machines, but not need to have the dog or horse racing.  Florida voters passed an Amendment that made live greyhound racing illegal.  Those facilities have other gambling on-site and the issue of whether they can be decoupled has been contemplated.  A new set of bills have been introduced that seeks to decouple the greyhound industry but also expand gambling through decoupling other gambling activities as well.  Florida Politics explains:

The House Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would decouple casino gambling permits not just from dog racing tracks that are out of business but from jai alai frontons and harness racing tracks as well.

PCB 21-05, introduced by Republican Rep. Chris Latvala, is one of three gaming-related proposed committee bills introduced Wednesday in the Commerce Committee. Chair Rep. *Blaise Ingoglia* advised they were being floated only as just-in-case measures, should the Legislature take up gambling in this Session. Another bill, PCB 21-03, would create a Florida Gaming Control Commission and give it broad oversight and enforcement authority over Florida gaming. A third bill, PCB 21-04, would exempt some of the commission’s records from public records. 

Those two bills flew through the Commerce Committee with little discussion and no opposition. PCB 21-05 drew heated debate. It deals with the aftermath of Florida voter approval of a greyhound racing ban in 2018. Those dog tracks are closed or closing, but some still have game rooms. But Florida law says those game rooms must be coupled with pari-mutuel operations, and the racing is gone. The bill would decouple greyhound track companies’ casinos from the race tracks. Yet the bill extends the same decoupling to jai alai frontons, which nearly are gone in Florida, and to harness racing tracks, which supports the quarter horse community.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 04/05 – 04/11

PokerStars owes KY $1.3 billion. The state is reaching for first $100 million.

The state of Kentucky is pursuing part of the $1.3 billion owed it by an online poker company that ran what the Kentucky Supreme Court has described as “an illegal internet gambling criminal syndicate,” Gov. Andy Beshear’s office said Thursday. Lawyers for the state are filing a motion in Franklin Circuit Court to collect $100 million in bonds posted five years ago by PokerStars after it lost a huge judgment and began a lengthy appeal, said Beshear spokesman Crystal Staley. The Supreme Court on Thursday made its judgment final by refusing to rehear the gambling case, which it decided in the state’s favor in December. The high court said Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet legally was entitled to collect damages on behalf of about 34,000 Kentuckians who lost more than $290 million on PokerStars’ website from 2006 to 2011. Wagering on online poker is illegal in Kentucky. State law allows lawsuits to recover money lost to such gambling.

Waynesboro men admit participation in illegal gambling operation

Two Waynesboro, Ga. men and a Greenwood, S.C., man have admitted to federal charges for participating in a longtime illegal gambling operation. “These men participated in an illegal gambling operation for at least a decade in the Waynesboro area, eventually funneling business through a foreign-based website,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “But even that offshore venture wouldn’t keep them out of the reach of diligent law enforcement professionals who turned the tables on this illicit operation.” Guilty pleas include prison time and $650,000 in forfeiture and restitution.

As described in court documents and testimony, Mobley operated as a “bookie” for an illegal sports betting operation for at least the past 10 years in Burke County, at first collecting bets and paying out winnings himself, and later through a sports betting website operated from Costa Rica. “No matter how hard these defendants tried to hide their illegal operation, their greed ultimately caught up with them,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “FBI agents will pursue criminal activity that violates our Constitution, no matter where an investigation takes them, and along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office will hold them accountable.”

Montana Man Found Guilty in October 2019 Strangulation Death

A Montana man was found guilty Monday in the strangling death of a woman who gave him a ride home from a casino where she worked in October 2019. Yellowstone County jurors deliberated for about two hours before finding Diego Hernandez of Laurel guilty of deliberate homicide in the death of Lori Bray, 57. Bray was last seen giving Hernandez, 24, a ride home after her shift at the Cedar Ridge Casino in Laurel early on Oct. 1, 2019. Bray’s car was found abandoned north of Laurel and her naked body was found in a ravine about three miles (five kilometers) away, investigators said. Bray’s purse, cellphone and clothing were found in the car. Her wallet had been emptied of cash. DNA under her fingernails matched a sample obtained from Hernandez, who had scratches on his face, prosecutors said.

NW Indiana Casino Fined $100K for Underage Patron Incidents

A northwest Indiana casino has been fined $100,000 by state regulators after an 18-year-old man with a fraudulent Pennsylvania identification was repeatedly allowed to enter the casino’s gaming floor to play blackjack and place sports bets. The Indiana Gaming Commission imposed the fine Tuesday against Horseshoe Casino. Records show the young man’s ID failed to be confirmed as authentic by the Hammond casino’s electronic Veridocs system a total of 40 times after being scanned by 18 different security officers on 10 different days. But on each occasion, security officers still let the man into the casino, where he even obtained a Caesars Rewards players club card, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

California Department of Justice Secures $5.3 Million Settlement from Artichoke Joe’s Casino (CA)

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) today announced a settlement in which Artichoke Joe’s Casino in San Bruno agreed to pay a penalty of $5.3 million for misleading gambling regulators and violating the Bank Secrecy Act, a federal law intended to combat money laundering. The casino is a 51-table cardroom with the eighth largest gross gambling revenue in the state. After the cardroom failed to timely or accurately report an investigation by the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), DOJ’s Bureau of Gambling Control (Bureau) initiated a license disciplinary proceeding against the casino and its owners. Today’s settlement includes the largest agreed-upon penalty in the history of California gambling regulation. 

Under California’s Gambling Control Act of 1998, casinos are required to make timely, full, and true disclosure to gambling regulators. The Bureau determined that Artichoke Joe’s Casino was in violation of the law, when it failed to accurately report, reveal, or disclose in a timely manner that FinCEN or any other federal agency was examining the casino with respect to the Bank Secrecy Act and that the casino and FinCEN were in negotiations that could result in the casino’s admission of Bank Secrecy Act violations. Both the failures to disclose and the admitted violations of the Bank Secrecy Act breached the casino’s duties and responsibilities under the Gambling Control Act. As a result of the settlement secured by DOJ related to this case, the casino and its owners will pay a penalty of $5.3 million, reimburse the Bureau for costs associated with the case, and complete a required 36-month compliance period. Artichoke Joe’s ability to hold its state gambling license will be contingent upon meeting the terms of the settlement throughout the entire 36 months.

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

As UK legislators look to update the Gambling Act 2005, a new Study Shows Loot Boxes Lead to Problem Gambling and Should be Regulated Accordingly

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing awareness of just how addictive gambling-esque loot boxes are to children and adults who play video games.  This gaming mechanic has emerged as a highly addictive form of gambling that more and more jurisdictions are acknowledging.  As recently reported,  the UK is open to the possible regulation of loot boxes as its reviewing and updating their main regulatory backbone, theGambling Act 2005.  As those review efforts are coming to a close, a new report draws a clear link between loot boxes and problem gambling. The Guardian reports: 

Analysis revives calls for in-game rewards to be classed as betting products to protect children. Loot boxes, video game features used by nearly 40% of children, have clear links to problem gambling, according to a study that has reignited calls for them to be regulated as betting products.

Researchers analysed 13 studies into the behaviour of gamers who spend on loot boxes which allow players to spend money on randomised in-game rewards that can aid players’ progress or enhance the appearance of characters, without knowing what they will get. All but one of the studies showed a clear correlation between the use of loot boxes and problem gambling behaviour, under the commonly-used Problem Gambling  Severity Index (PGSI) measure.

They were “structurally and psychologically akin” to gambling, the report found, yet are used by nearly half of children who play video games. Approximately 5% of loot box users generate half of the £700m that video games companies make from them each year and about a third of that group are problem gamblers, the report says.

This group contends that this analysis should be heavily considered by lawmakers when deciding which gambling regulations can best help the public.  The Guardian continues:

GambleAware, the leading gambling charity that commissioned the report,

also backed tighter regulation. “[…] We are increasingly concerned that gambling is now part of everyday life for children and young people,” said the chief executive Zoë Osmond. “GambleAware funded this research to highlight concerns around loot boxes and problem gambling, ahead of the upcoming Gambling Act review.

Researchers from the Universities of Plymouth and Wolverhampton, who wrote the report, called for clear labelling and age-rating for loot boxes, as well as disclosure of odds, tools to limit spending voluntarily and prices in real currency.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 03/29 – 04/04

Matthew Peterson, Architect of $6M Sports Betting Fraud, Gets Eight Years (MO)

Matthew Peterson, 51, the mastermind behind a $6 million sports wagering scheme, was sentenced to eight years and one month in federal prison without possibility of parole. In levying that punishment on Wednesday, US District Judge Howard Sachsm also ordered Peterson, of Kansas City, Mo. to pay $2.51 million in restitution to the victims. The defendant pled guilty last September to a single count of bank fraud and one count of money laundering.

 “Peterson lied to prospective investors about being an expert in sports betting in order to carry out his investment fraud scheme,” according to a statement issued by the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.” “Peterson created fictitious spreadsheets, financial statements, and betting reports that indicated the investments were yielding large returns,” the statement continued. The Department of Justice (DOJ) asserts that rather than conducting a legitimate sports betting investment vehicle, Peterson operated the quintessential Ponzi scheme — using capital from new investors to pay early stakeholders. *“Peterson used about $3.3 million of the approximately $6 million obtained from investors to make Ponzi-type payments to existing investors,”* said the US Attorney’s Office.

Suspect Arrested in Las Vegas Casino Shooting

An 18-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a shooting early this year at an off-Strip casino parking lot in Las Vegas.  Romell Buckly is scheduled for a March 18 preliminary hearing at the Las Vegas Justice Court, according to the /Las Vegas Review-Journal./ He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on March 3. Buckly faces an attempted murder charge. Police responding to the call discovered a man on the Rio parking lot, suffering from several gunshot wounds. The man was hospitalized in critical condition. After multiple surgeries, he has survived, the newspaper reported. Surveillance video of the incident shows Buckly leaving the hotel with the victim’s girlfriend, according to police. The victim chased Buckly and the woman. Buckly and the victim then got into an altercation. Buckly went back to the Rio, but soon was outside again. Approaching the couple, he fired at the man, police said. The shooting at the Rio is one of several violent incidents at or near the Strip since the first of the year.

5 Suspects identified in shooting of Saracen Casino security guard 

Pine Bluff police are looking for five suspects after a security guard was shot outside the Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff Thursday night. Police say they responded to the shooting around 11:15 Thursday night. They say several people were causing a disturbance inside the casino. Security escorted some of the people out. Police say once they were outside two of the men pulled out guns. They say the suspects and security officers exchanged gunfire. Police say the suspects left in a dark-colored passenger car, possibly a newer model Nissan Altima. The security guard was shot in the stomach. Officials say his injury does not appear to be life-threatening. No other people at the casino were injured, although there was damage to a wall of the casino and two cars in the parking lot were damaged.

Judge sentences Backus woman who embezzled funds from dental office

A 61-year-old Backus woman pleaded guilty to embezzling over $100,000 from a Pine River dental office. According to court documents, Sandra Jean Kelley said she stole the money to support her gambling and shopping habits. A Cass County sheriff investigator spoke with Kelley, who admitted she stole from her former employer, that it had been going on since 2013 and she did it to support her gambling and shopping habits. Kelley stated she paid her personal credit card with company funds. The CEO claimed Kelley took extra hours through payroll and she took cash from the company account for personal use. The CEO reported that during the COVID-19 pandemic office shutdown, she began to examine the business’ records and discovered that between Oct. 9, 2017, and March 31, 2020, Kelley used the corporate checking account to pay $84,633.08 off her personal credit card, the complaint stated

Prosser woman stole from her car dealer boss to fuel her $1M gambling habit 

A Prosser woman with a high-priced gambling habit used area casinos to “wash” large amounts of money she stole from her boss. Amanda C. Wabeke, 34, would load the money she’d embezzled from Prosser’s Tom Denchel Ford Country onto her casino rewards card and play slot machines, then cash out her ticket. Wabeke pleaded guilty in May 2019 to one count of first-degree theft in Benton County Superior Court. Her sentencing was delayed nearly two years while attorneys argued over the restitution amount, along with limited judicial proceedings during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, Judge Joe Burrowes ordered Wabeke to spend six months in the county jail and repay $114,907 to Denchel. Bloor said detectives were able to pull Wabeke’s rewards card records to show how much she was spending on slot machines. She spent nearly $186,000 in 2015, about $413,000 in 2016 and nearly $332,500 in 2017.

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