A Brief Look at Crime 8/16 – 8/22

Chicago police officer sentenced to 15 months behind bars for role in sports gambling case

Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Nicholas Stella to between a year and 18 months in prison, accusing him of betraying his oath as a Chicago police officer. A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a veteran Chicago police officer to 15 months in prison for his role in a large-scale, international gambling ring. Nicholas Stella, 43, is the third person to be sentenced for his role in the gambling ring once run by Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall last year gave three months of home detention to DelGiudice’s father, Eugene “Geno” DelGiudice. And last month, she gave six months of community confinement to Todd Blanken. But she also ordered Stella into Chicago’s federal lockup six months ago, after prosecutors said Stella “violently assaulted his girlfriend” last January at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Rosemont. Kendall cited that incident when she handed down Stella’s sentence Thursday, telling him “There can be no tolerance for that in our society.” The judge also said Stella’s status as a police officer is “so troubling.” Seeing an officer act as though he is above the law brings suspicion to “all of the really good officers out there who are trying to do their jobs — and they are trying so hard, with integrity and good character,” Kendall said.

Man in ‘Hollywood-Esque’ Masks Gets Prison for Casino Thefts

A Detroit-area man who wore realistic masks while robbing $125,000 from cash kiosks in casinos was sentenced Thursday to four years in federal prison. John Colletti of Harper Woods committed a “remarkably elaborate scheme” while wearing “Hollywood-esque disguises” with hats and glasses, prosecutors said in a court filing. Colletti, 56, admitted that he obtained personal information from people who had accounts with Global Payments Gaming Systems, had false IDs made overseas and withdrew money from kiosks at casinos. He was sentenced in federal court in Detroit, three months after pleading guilty to wire fraud and identity theft. “There are any number of legitimate pursuits toward which he could have directed his talents,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Particka said. “Unfortunately, (Colletti) decided that costumed capers such as those in this case were a better use of his time.” Defense attorney Stacey Studnicki asked for a two-year prison sentence, the mandatory minimum.

Feds Reportedly Seize Millions in Cash, Assets From Gambler’s Florida Home

Law enforcement agents have issued details about a raid on the home of high-profile sports gambler Clarence “Gary” Austin in Plantation, Fla. Reports state that police seized almost $4.3 million in cash, 61 gold bars, five luxury cars, and a Miami Heat championship ring. The value of the gold bars and upscale cars taken from the house was not immediately known. The cars include two Mercedes Benzes, a Lamborghini, a Porsche Cayenne, and a Land Rover Range Rover, the report said.

Austin is the owner and operator of the Costa Rica based   Tradewinds gaming site, according to the Florida report. It has been in operation since 1998. Austin and Calvin Ayre, the Canadian billionaire, were reported as among the founders of sportsbook businesses in Costa Rica, according to The Costa Rica Star. “Austin’s illegal Internet gambling enterprise has produced in excess of $34 million in illegal proceeds during its operation,” according to documents filed in federal court. [T]he /Sun-Sentinel/ quotes a federal court document that Austin set up “an intricate domestic and international money laundering organization and methods to surreptitiously conduct monetary transactions with the bookmakers and bettors located in the US in order to ultimately receive and utilize the illicit earnings.” The money was kept in “numerous domestic and offshore corporations, business entities, and trusts,” the report said.

Woman used charity Kidz Come 1st cash for online gambling 

A WOMAN has admitted defrauding a children’s charity out of cash by spending the money on online gambling. Ruksana Khan, 65, abused her position with a former Clacton-based charity, Kidz Come 1st, by siphoning off funds into her own bank account, a court heard. At a previous hearing at Colchester Magistrates’ Court, prosecutors said there were 378 payments into Khan’s personal bank account totalling more than £50,000. Magistrates were told there were cash withdrawals of more than £15,000, with the prosecution alleging charity trustee James Donovan, 55, acting as the sole signatory to the transactions. Appearing at Chelmsford Crown Court, Khan admitted three counts of fraud.

Dakota County clerk who stole $650K to feed gambling habit gets 2¼ years in prison

A judge sentenced an elected town clerk in Dakota County to two-plus years in prison for stealing more than $650,000 from Vermillion Township to feed her gambling habit. Maryann H. Stoffel, 71, of Hastings, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Minneapolis to 2¼ years in prison and ordered to pay back all of the $652,674.66 that she misappropriated from December 2012 through October 2020. Stoffel pleaded guilty in March to one count of wire fraud. “This was not a one-time mistake,” the prosecution wrote in asking for Stoffel to receive a three-year term. “Stoffel made the decision on many different days over the course of eight years to steal money from the Township and to lie to her fellow Township officials. … Stoffel did not use the money to buy things that she needed, but rather to fund her yearslong gambling habit.”

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