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

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