A Brief Look at Crime 7/26 – 8/01

Former Owner of Florida Produce Business Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

A Florida man pleaded guilty today to tax evasion in federal district court in Fort Lauderdale. According to court documents, Alejandro Gomez, of Broward County, operated Fleischmann’s Produce, a company that imported fresh herbs for wholesale distribution. Gomez spent approximately $896,951 in 2014 and $1,051,213 in 2015 gambling at a Broward County casino. In March 2015, Gomez filed a false 2014 corporate tax return for Fleischmann’s with the IRS that overstated total business expenditures by falsely reporting the $896,951 in gambling expenditures as cost of goods sold. The next year, Gomez caused a false 2015 corporate tax return to be filed that again falsely characterized his gambling expenditures as cost of goods sold. Because the false items reported on Fleishmann’s 2014 and 2015 corporate returns artificially reduced the income that Gomez received from Fleischmann’s, Gomez also substantially underreported his personal income for both years. In total, Gomez caused a tax loss to the IRS of over $545,000.

Man says intruders beat him, stole his casino winnings a few hours later

Lawton police are investigating a report that a man’s $5,000 casino winnings were stolen by masked men who broke into his home, knocked him out and took the money. Police said the man told them he won about $5,000 cash at Comanche Nation Casino and said he called a friend that night to tell her about his luck. Around 3 a.m. the next morning, the man said he was alone and asleep in his home when he was awakened by two intruders in facial coverings kicking in the front door. He claimed one of the intruders had a gun, and he was beaten unconscious. When he came to, the man said his $5,000 in cash and his cell phone were gone, and he suspected the friend he called was involved. The victim’s mother took him to the hospital, where he said he was in intensive care for three days. He was treated for skull fractures, an orbital socket fracture, a nose fracture and bleeding in the brain.

7 Men Charged in Dog Fighting Operation Have Pleaded Guilty

ll seven men charged after dozens of dogs were rescued in 2018 from a rural Georgia dog fighting operation have pleaded guilty to related charges, federal prosecutors said. “Animal fighting is cruel and barbaric, and has no place in our society,” Acting U.S. Attorney David Estes said in a news release. Georgia State Patrol troopers and game wardens from the state Department of Natural Resources did traffic stops after getting reports of a dogfighting operation in March 2018. In one vehicle, they discovered a pit bull covered in blood that appeared to have been injured while fighting, according to court filings. The driver admitted to having just been to a dog fight. Investigators seized 63 dogs, who were turned over to an animal rescue operation.

Dog fights are typically staged for entertainment or gambling, prosecutors said at the time of the raid. “Fights usually end when one dog withdraws, when a handler ‘picks up’ his dog and forfeits the match, or when one or both dogs die,” prosecutors wrote in their complaint seeking a warrant to seize the dogs.

Bakery manager embezzled £95,000 to fund gambling addiction 

A trusted bakery manager embezzled £95,000 in five months to fund her online gambling addiction. Nicola Smith, or Thomson, began working at Kindness Bakers on Main Street, New Deer, in 2007, and worked her way up to store manager where she was trusted with the day-to-day book-keeping. But in 2017 she began taking advantage of her position and used the bakery’s PayPoint terminal, which lets customers purchase vouchers for phone and utility top-ups,  to obtain pre-paid vouchers without running them through the till. Over the course of five months, the 46-year-old embezzled £95,000 of pre-paid vouchers, which she redeemed on gambling website Jackpotjoy. When confronted by the director, Thomson “apologised and said she had become addicted to online gambling”. 

Ex-Oakland Hills Country Club member accused of stealing $700K from caddy fund

The Detroit News brings us a real tear-jerker today about a former member of The Oakland Hills Country Club who “regularly sipped martinis at the club bar and ordered up bottles of pricey wine,” then allegedly stole nearly $700,000 from a club organization that pays for caddies to go to college. Craig A. Maass, who ran his father’s pump distributing and servicing company until it was sold in 2017, tells The News he was so “out of control” doesn’t even recall what he spent the money on. Authorities say it likely went to “supporting a lifestyle he could no longer afford, including gambling at a Detroit casino and trips to Vegas.” The Bloomfield Hills club pressed charges, despite the 62-year-old’s hope that, given his nearly lifelong affiliation, he could just pay back what he owed. A trial on six counts of embezzlement is scheduled to start Thursday, and Maass faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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