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.

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