A Brief Look at Crime  10/18 – 10/24

Gambling-Related Harm Costs England £1.27 billion Per Year, Says Public Health Report 

The UK has one of the biggest gambling markets in the world, generating a profit of around £14.2bn ($19.11bn) in 2020 alone. According to a new report in England, however, the industry also has a high cost for society in regard to gambling-related harm.

Public Health England (PHE) completed a study on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DCMS). By reviewing the evidence on gambling harms, PHE estimated that the issue cost England at least £1.27bn ($1.71bn) in 2019 and 2020. The cost incorporates a number of problems associated with gambling, including bankruptcy, family issues, and health harms such as suicide.

Rosanna O’Connor, director of Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco, and Justice for PHE, commented on the study. “The evidence is clear – harmful gambling is a public health issue and needs addressing on many fronts, with an emphasis on preventing these harms from occurring as well as with help readily accessible for those directly and indirectly affected,” she said.

Former Indiana casino executive faces new charges related to tax evasion

An Indiana casino executive is facing additional federal charges connected to an alleged scheme to make illegal corporate casino campaign donations to an Indiana congressional candidate. John Keeler was indicted this week by a federal grand jury on two new charges related to illegally using the campaign donations to lower the taxable income for Centaur Holdings, parent of the casino company where Keeler was vice president and general counsel. The additional charges were tacked on to an initial indictment that a year ago accused Keeler of four counts connected to an alleged scheme to use straw donors to illegally funnel casino money to Brent Waltz’s unsuccessful 2016 campaign for the U.S. House. The new allegations accuse Keeler, a former Republican state representative, of filing corporate tax returns for Centaur Holdings that falsely listed $79,500 in consultant payments as deductions in 2015 and another $41,000 in fake consultant payments in 2016. Federal prosecutors allege those payments were actually part of a scheme to funnel illegal campaign donations to Waltz.

California Gaming Raid Nabs Four Suspects, Cops Seize Weapons, Drugs

A gambling raid Thursday led to four arrests at a private house in Daly City, Calif. Police seized gaming machines, drugs, firearms, and an unspecified amount of cash. The four suspects were apprehended and were being held late this week in San Mateo County jail. Charges relate to drugs, possession of guns, and illegal gambling, police said. “It was determined the residence was being used as an illegal gambling establishment with coin-operated machines,” Daly City police said in a Facebook post. “Our officers found illegal gambling machines, large quantities of illegal drugs, a large amount of US currency, and several firearms,” the post adds. The search was approved by a local judge. Officers taking part include those from the Daly City Crime Suppression Unit, detectives, and tactical team members. Police did not release the suspects’ identities. Each of the four resided at the house where the gambling was taking place, police add.

Disbarred lawyer with ‘crippling’ gambling problem admits stealing nearly $2 million in Philadelphia Eagles’ seat-license scam 

A disbarred-New Jersey lawyer has pleaded guilty to stealing almost $2 million he raised in a phony Philadelphia Eagles seat-license scheme, and using it to support his “crippling” gambling addiction. Frank N. Tobolsky, 59, of Cherry Hill, N.J. admitted approaching an investor in Delaware in 2013 to help finance a business that would provide loans to Eagles fans who held seat licenses, federal prosecutors said. The investor was told the licenses would be used for collateral for the loans.

Over the next three years, Tobolsky convinced the investor to plunk down $2.4 million for the scheme. But prosecutors say there were no Eagles fans taking loans or seat licenses being held in collateral. Personal seat licenses allow the holder to buy season tickets to see home games for their favorite team, with the proceeds typically being used to help the team pay off the cost of building new stadiums. They are most commonly used in the U.S. by National Football League franchises.

Tobolsky did return some of the money to the investors as purported profits from the business, but prosecutors say he used a substantial portion for personal expenses, including big withdrawals at casinos. Ultimately, Tobolsky’s gambling problem cost him his law license and practice in Merchantville, N.J. He was disbarred in 2018 after being arrested for pillaging his escrow account and using $32,000 of a client’s money from a home sale to support his gambling problem. In testimony before a state disciplinary review board that year, Tobolsky described having a “crippling” and “debilitating” gambling addiction that caused him to go “out of his mind.”

Woman leaves child in car while gambling 

A Lake Arthur woman was arrested Saturday after she allegedly left an 8-year-old child inside a car while she went into a truck stop casino to gamble. [She] faces charges of child desertion, possession of a controlled dangerous substance Schedule II and possession of drug paraphernalia. [She] was arrested after sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Peto’s truck stop on La. 395 around 11 p.m. Saturday in reference to a young child being left in a vehicle, according to Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Chris Ivey. The on-site security discovered the child sitting in the vehicle in the parking lot and called the sheriff’s office, he said. Deputies were able to locate the child’s mother inside the casino gambling and escorted her back to the vehicle where the child was being watched by security. The child was released to an adult friend at the scene. During questioning, deputies observed a syringe partially exposed from a cigarette pack and asked [her] to hand it over for safety. The syringe contained a brown residue suspected to be narcotics.

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

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