Author Archives: tjdy

A Brief Look at Crime 8/23 – 9/05

A Bookie, Miami Heat Championship Ring, Gold Bars And The Feds

Clarence “Gary” Austin, a Miami, Florida sports bettor and bookie of offshore wagering Tradewinds, has 99 problems and the federal government is definitely one of them. Earlier this month, documents filed by the United States of America with a district court in Texas reveal the feds seized millions of dollars worth of currency and property from Austin’s Plantation, Florida, home. The seizure came just a few months after the feds filed a complaint with the court claiming Austin is involved in four federal crimes: transmission of wagering information, running an illegal gambling business, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit these offenses. In short, the federal government is claiming Austin was involved in a ton of shady dealings. As such, they raided his home and seized a laundry list of rich-guy possessions including a Miami Heat championship ring.

Sharks’ Kane accused of Game-Fixing From Wife 

San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane denied allegations his wife made on social media that he bet on NHL games, including against his own team. Kane responded Sunday morning to allegations made the previous day from the Instagram account of his wife, Anna. The NHL said Saturday night that it was made aware of the social media posts from Anna Kane and plans to conduct a full investigation. Anna Kane wrote: “How does the NHL let a compulsive gambling addict still play when he’s obviously throwing games to win money? Hmm maybe someone needs to address this.”

She added: “Can someone ask (Commissioner) Gary Bettman how they let a player gamble on his own games? Bet and win with bookies on his own games?” In a separate post, Anna Kane accused her husband of spending lavishly partying in Europe while asking her to sell her wedding ring to survive and wrote about not being able to afford baby formula for their child. Kane’s gambling history and finances have been public knowledge for some time. A Las Vegas Strip casino sued Kane in 2019, alleging he failed to repay a $500,000 gambling debt racked up during a playoff series against the Golden Knights.

Man dies in fight at casino (NV)

A man died after he was knocked out in an early-morning fight Friday at a Laughlin casino. The man, who has not been identified, was knocked unconscious during “a large fight with multiple suspects” on the main casino floor at the Aquarius Casino Resort, said Officer Misael Parra of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s office of public information.

Parra said Metro received a call to respond to the casino for a fight in progress at about 1:20 a.m. Friday. When officers from Metro’s Laughlin substation arrived, they found the man unresponsive on the floor. The man was taken by ambulance from the property on Laughlin’s Casino Drive to Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Parra said the initial report did not indicate how many “multiple” participants were. Police later said the man was in a group of people that apparently got into an argument with another group. The argument escalated into a physical fight involving the victim and at least two other men. The two other men were gone by the time police arrived.

Woman sentenced in fatal shooting at south Wichita gambling operation 

A 47-year-old Haysville woman who fatally shot an erstwhile boyfriend in 2019 at the illegal gambling space she operated in south Wichita was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 10 years in prison, officials said. Stacey Jeanie Peters pleaded guilty in June to second-degree murder and commercial gambling in the case that involved the death of 41-year-old Robert Duvaul, who was found dead inside a building in the 3000 block of South Hillside.

When officers arrived at the building, she told them that she had been arguing with Duvaul, who had a gun, that he was threatening to damage her property and that he was threatening to kill her. She told police she shot him. Surveillance video from the seen showed Duvaul with his hands up before staggering backwards and collapsing, the news release said. Witnesses said Peters was known to carry a pistol on her hip when she worked at the business.

Two women found dead at Palms Casino Resort off Las Vegas Strip in suspected murder-suicide

TWO women were found dead inside a hotel room in Las Vegas in a suspected murder-suicide, according to reports. They were found by employees at the Palms Casino Resort around 3pm on Tuesday. The guests, said to be in their 30s, reportedly hadn’t checked out of the hotel prompting security guards to visit the room, Las Vegas Sun reports. They couldn’t get into the room at first so employees forced down the door and the bodies were found on the bed. Cops believe the women died from gunshot wounds and that they died within 12 hours of being discovered. It’s suspected they may have been “romantically involved” but no further details have been provided, according to the Las Vegas Police Department. Their identities have not been revealed but it’s thought that they were locals to the city. Las Vegas  Metropolitan Police Homicide Lt Ray Spencer said: “We know that at least one of them was alive as early as 5am.” Cops are unsure if they died at the same time. Lt. Spencer said that there were no reports of gunshots from anyone nearby.

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

Another Florida Seminole Compact Lawsuit has been file, the second for Magic City Casino & Bonita Springs Poker Room

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing events and litigation of the newly approved Florida Gambling Compact.  Most of the controversy has focused on online gambling via mobile sports betting and the lack of popular vote to make it legal in Florida, which was indeed the focus of two parimutuel casinos lawsuits in July.  However, after the official approval, one of the parimutuel companies, Magic City Casino, is pushing forward with another lawsuit.  The Miami Herald explains this new national angle:

Upping the ante in the courts, two parimutuel facilities have filed a second federal lawsuit challenging a 30-year gambling agreement reached by Gov. Ron DeSantis that gives the Seminole Tribe control over sports betting throughout Florida.

The latest legal challenge, filed Monday in Washington, D.C., came less than two weeks after the U.S. Department of the Interior signed off on a gambling “compact” negotiated by DeSantis and passed by the Florida Legislature in May.

Owners of Magic City Casino in Miami-Dade County and Bonita Springs Poker Room in Southwest Florida contend in the lawsuit that the sports-betting plan violates federal laws and will cause a “significant and potentially devastating” impact on their businesses.

[C]alling Florida’s sports-betting model a “legal fiction,” the parimutuels’ lawsuits maintain that federal law does not authorize bets that occur off tribal lands.

“Through this fiction, the compact and implementing law seek to expand sports betting outside of Indian lands to individuals located anywhere in Florida so long as they have a computer and internet connection — subject only to the tribe’s monopoly,” lawyers for the parimutuels wrote in Monday’s 43-page lawsuit, which names as defendants Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and her agency.

Part of the argument being made in court, is how the agreement was approved, or rather, not specifically approved.  The option existed to outright approve the agreement, but instead, no approval, or denial was given, thus allowing the agreement to de facto stand after 45 days. This was cited as being the result of known lack of federal authority to allow the spoke and hub gambling model.  The Miami Herald continued:

“Although Secretary Haaland could have approved a compact between Florida and the tribe to permit in-person or online sports betting by patrons physically on the tribe’s reservations, the plain language of IGRA prevents her from approving the compact here because it does not comply with IGRA’s ‘Indian lands’ requirement. The compact therefore both violates IGRA and falls outside the scope of compacts she is authorized to approve in the first instance,” the parimutuels’ lawyers wrote.

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

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.”

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

Could the Florida Seminole Gambling Compact Sports Betting Case lead to a Massive Expansion of Gambling Around the Country?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing events surrounding the legalization of sports betting in Florida via the new gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe.  The implications of the new BIA ruling allowing online gambling to gamblers who simply link to servers located on tribal land, without regard to the gamblers physical location, could be profound.  The government claims their view is simply an updated view of how online gambling should work, but clearly its a method of usurping the Florida Constitution that expressly forbids expanded gambling without the vote of the people.  What kind of precedent will this set for other states?  An online source breaks down the Nationwide implications:

The Seminole deal seeks to be the nation’s first compact that permits off-tribal land gaming under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the sweeping legislation that regulates tribal gaming nationwide. The compact language also would permit certain aspects, such as the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, to stand even if online components are denied.

If online sports betting is approved, Florida would eclipse Pennsylvania as the nation’s most-populated legal digital wagering state. With California and Texas unlikely to approve mobile sports betting until 2025 or later, it’s a title the Sunshine State should hold for years to come. Along with more than 21-million residents, Florida averages more than 100 million tourism visits annually. Mobile wagering from Pensacola to Key West could create a market that reverberates beyond just the state itself.

Mobile sports betting authorization for the Seminoles could mean hundreds of other tribes could pursue digital gaming options of their own. Legal battles would surely follow, but an internet-friendly definition of wagering “on tribal lands” could mean every state with a recognized tribe has at least an argument for digital sportsbooks, lottery and casinos.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/09 – 8/15

Baby Found in Locked Car at North Las Vegas Casino, Gambler Arrested

A baby was taken to a Nevada hospital Friday night for an exam by authorities. That’s after it was found alone in a car parked at Bighorn Casino in North Las Vegas on a hot’s summer’s evening. A man was later arrested, and police said he was gambling in the venue and appeared intoxicated. The child is believed to be younger than one year of age. The infant was in a pediatric unit earlier this weekend, /KLAS/, a local TV station, reported.

The baby’s condition was unknown as of Sunday. It is unclear if the baby suffered any injuries. The windows were partially rolled down when the baby was seen by police officers. The car was locked. Temperatures outside on Friday reached a high of 117 degrees in Las Vegas, according to AccuWeather. Las Vegas has been facing record-setting temperatures. Mitchell Anthony Hooks, 39, of Las Vegas was located in the casino at about 8:15 pm Friday. He was arrested by North Las Vegas police officers. Hooks was charged with child abuse and leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle, /KLAS/ said.

Sheriff’s deputy tracks, dismantles cockfighting operations in LA County

Tucked away off a dirt road in the middle of a remote canyon in unincorporated Chatsworth, a large cockfighting breeding ranch has been uncovered and brought down by the LA County Sheriff’s Department. The lead deputy on the case, Joel Bronson, worked the investigation for more than a year before it was finally time to remove about 400 roosters and hens from the property. The cages were hidden behind a circle of plywood, across a rickety makeshift bridge. Bronson said the ranch was one of thousands of cockfighting enterprises in the area of LA County he tracks.

“I feel good about being here. This is the payoff of a lot of work to finally take this guy’s animals away from him,” Bronson said. Bronson has been with the sheriff’s department 15 years and has become an expert in dismantling this type of crime. “A lot of times, it’s drug dealers and it’s a hobby for them. It’s a flashy, high-profile hobby that they can make a lot of money on and throw parties, and have a cockfight and do a bunch of gambling,” Bronson said.

30 people arrested after authorities break up Florida cockfighting ring

Thirty people, including a juvenile, were arrested after a months-long investigation into an illegal cockfighting ring, Florida’s Agricultural Law Enforcement office reported Tuesday. Dubbed “Operation Fowl Play,” officers broke up the ring last week in Mayo, Fla., a rural city in North Florida, as officers armed with a warrant busted in to find a crowd gathered to watch roosters fight to their death. The report said they came upon “a gathering of participants and onlookers actively engaged in the illegal blood sport of fighting or baiting of animals.” Police K9 had to chase down several suspects who fled the area on foot.

A search of the area uncovered three dead roosters and 41 live roosters that were being readied to fight. All of those arrested, who were from across Florida and Georgia, will be charged with third degree felonies for attending the fighting or baiting of animals. Others are facing additional charges for owning, possessing or selling equipment for use in an animal fight, while another is facing child neglect charges for the juvenile that was in attendance. Guns, cash and drugs were also found, according to the state’s Department of Agriculture.

New charges brought against former casino CEO

The former CEO of a west-central Wisconsin casino accused of embezzling over $72,000 from the business is now facing additional federal charges. The indictment charges Oustigoff for filing tax returns that underreported his income from 2015 to 2018 — the years he is accused of embezzling from Turtle Lake Casino. According to the indictment, the then-general manager and CEO misapplied casino funds on eight occasions between December 2015 and January 2018. Those incidents of alleged embezzlement total about $72,600 taken from the business operated by the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin. If Oustigoff is convicted, each of the eight embezzlement counts carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison. Filing false income tax returns carries a smaller penalty of up to three years in prison per count.

Rivers Casino Visitor Arrested After Allegedly Leaving 7-Year-Old Alone in Car

An Illinois man was arrested Sunday after allegedly leaving a 7-year-old boy in a car parked at Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. The incident comes a couple of days after a similar allegation against another person involving a baby in the much warmer Nevada climate. John Elliott, 44, of Schiller Park, Ill., was charged with endangering the life or health of a child following the Rivers Casino episode, according to the /Daily Herald/, an Illinois newspaper.

Elliott allegedly left the boy in the car at about 7:30 pm Sunday. The child climbed out of the car 20 minutes later, police said. Soon after, the boy went up to casino security guards. He told them he was alone after the adult went inside the gaming property. Local cops learned about the incident at about 8:30 p.m. That night, Illinois Gaming Board agents reportedly apprehended Elliott before he left the casino. If convicted, Elliott could be fined up to $25,000 and be sentenced to between two and five years in prison.

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

UPDATE: Seminole Gambling Compact Officially Approved by Federal Government

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to ratify the Seminole Gambling Compact with Florida.  Most provisions were along similar lines as past compacts, but the sudden inclusion of online sports gambling to be regulated by the Seminole’s created an immediate controversy.  The compact is attempting to legalize mobile sports gambling which is illegal in Florida and must be voted on by the people to become legal.  The state of course claims the gambling servers for sports betting on Tribal land, so it’s irrelevant if the gamblers are off site and located in Florida which is illegal.  The Government had 45 days to approve, deny, or not take action, which defaults to allowing the compact.  The 45 days has passed, thus the compact has officially been approved.  An online source reports;  

On Friday, the top-ranking official in the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola that the compact those leaders signed on April 23 is “considered to have been approved” without action by the BIA, which declined to affirmatively approve it during a 45-day review period but also did not reject it.

Bryan Newland, head of the BIA, wrote: “After thorough review under IGRA, we have taken no action to approve or disapprove the Compact before August 5, 2021, the 45th day. As a result, the Compact is considered to have been approved by operation of law to the extent that it complies with IGRA and existing Federal law. The Compact will become effective upon the publication of notice in the Federal Register.”

The most controversial component of the compact legalizes mobile sports betting — individuals placing digital bets on sporting events via mobile devices, but not engaging with other players in internet-based games referred to as online gambling — everywhere in the state, but it deems those bets to have been made on tribal land where the file servers will process them. The arrangement is called “hub and spoke,” with servers on tribal land being the hub and devices across the state being the spokes.

This news is disappointing to many, including NO Casino’s, the watchdog organization that was instrumental in getting the Florida Amendment passed that requires a vote of the people to expand gambling.  Now that its official, they plan to put forth litigation to correct the over ruling.  The online source continues:

[T]he sports betting provision will face legal challenges arguing that the hub-and-spoke arrangement is a fiction designed to usurp Florida’s ban on expanding gambling without prior voter approval.John Sowinski, president of No Casinos, vowed to fight the compact in federal and state courts, chiefly to defend Florida Constitutional Amendment 3 passed by voters in 2018 to outlaw expansions of gambling without prior voter approval.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Department of Interior took no action on the compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” Sowinski wrote in a statement Friday to the Phoenix. “While this inaction means that it is deemed approved by the Department of Interior, it does not change the fact that this compact violates multiple federal laws as well as the Florida Constitution.

“The 2018 constitutional mandate of 72 percent of Florida voters could not be clearer,” Sowinski continued. “Only Florida voters, not politicians in Tallahassee or Washington, have the power to expand gambling in Florida. This issue will have its day in both state and federal courts, where we are confident that this compact will be overturned. We are committed to ensuring that the people of Florida will always have the final say on gambling as required by Florida’s Amendment 3.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/02 – 8/08

Gambling Debt Led Brooklyn, NY Man To Allegedly Murder His Father, Reports Reveal 

Gambling debt reportedly was the motive behind a Brooklyn, N.Y. man fatally stabbing his father in the chest on July 4, according to published reports. The suspect was apprehended on Sunday in the borough’s latest deadly crime tied to gambling. Police said Sean Peterson, 24, was arrested on a murder charge over the weekend for the killing of Anthony “Capone” Berry, 45, also of Brooklyn. The early morning stabbing took place outside of Berry’s residence. The apartment building is located in the Flatbush Gardens section of the borough. The duo had been arguing near the building over the gambling debt, according to the /New York Daily News/. It appears that money was owed to Peterson. After the stabbing, EMTs transported Berry to a NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County emergency room. But doctors at the hospital declared him deceased, according to /AM NY/, a regional online news site.

Man arrested in Woodland in connection to Thunder Valley Casino shooting

A man is arrested in Woodland Friday after the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said he was involved in a shooting that injured a young woman at Thunder Valley Casino Thursday night. It was supposed to be the start of a bright, new future for 24-year-old Lajoyia Murphy. She was starting her new beauty business and was meeting a new client at Thunder Valley Casino. Her mother Krystal Gill says she and her aunt came along for support. 

According to detectives with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Murphy was coming out of a parking garage at Thunder Valley around 8 p.m. when she noticed a small, dark car was swerving in and out of lanes behind her, before pulling up beside her near Athens Avenue. “The car just pulled alongside her and just shot,” Gill said. “Shot one time and it went through the passenger door of her and hit her in the hip of her leg.” Gill says sadly this isn’t the first time their family has encountered senseless gun violence. “My daughter had just lost a cousin, Amir, from a shooting highway 50 where he was in the head,” Gill told FOX40. “It just shows the times of this world is just wicked, it’s really wicked.”

Dayton woman arrested for leaving children in hot car while gambling 

A 37-year-old Dayton woman was arrested at a casino on E. William Street for three counts of child neglect and endangerment. According to the report, a Carson City Sheriff’s Office patrol deputy was called to a child welfare check at a local hotel-casino. An off-duty Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) officer had found two small children outside of the casino’s front doors, later reporting these two children and a third were left unattended in a vehicle for approximately five hours.

The deputy arrived on-scene to be informed that the 7-year-old and 5-year-old children were found by the NHP officer sitting alone on a bench in front of the casino. Later, a third 4-year-old child was found to have been left in the vehicle who had wet hair and was visibly sweating. According to the report, the woman left her three children in the vehicle with only the sunroof and back right window cracked for ventilation. The woman estimated she was in the casino between 45 minutes to an hour.

‘We will keep busting them’: Anniston police seize 59 gaming machines after warning of raids

With help from federal and state authorities, Anniston police seized 59 gaming machines, a gun and cash from illegal gambling establishments following raids Thursday morning, the city’s police chief said. Chief Nick Bowles said he gave the establishments notice after a similar raid a few months ago but the illegal businesses did not heed his warning. As for residents who complain that the department should tackle “real crime,” Bowles said illegal gambling dens are havens for other criminal activity.

“Real crime follows these places. We’ve had assaults, robberies, a shootout and even a murder at one of them. There’s drug dealing going on, there’s illegal alcohol sales – every vice that’s available out there comes along with these gambling establishments,” he said. “So we will keep busting them — don’t open them. Don’t come to Anniston, if you don’t want to see me in your place … then don’t open a gaming establishment in Anniston, period.”

Illegal Casino Busted In East Oakland; Guns, Cash, $76,000 In Drugs Seized 

Guns, narcotics and gambling machines were seized, along with a large amount of cash after police said they busted an illegal casino in East Oakland. “For more than a year our community did exactly what we’ve asked,” Chief LeRonne Armstrong said Friday. “They partnered with OPD on an issue that has plagued this community with narcotics, human trafficking, and illegal gambling. This investigation highlights the success when the community partners with our officers.” During the bust, officers seized 18 illegal casino gaming machines. Eight firearms were also recovered, including two assault rifles, 30 high-capacity magazines and a bulletproof vest. Drugs with a street value of more than $76,000 were seized, including heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, and 60 bottles of promethazine. The officers also seized more than $21,000 in cash.

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

One of Missouri’s Illegal Gambling Machine Creators Attempts to Sue another Local Government in Efforts to Prevent Prosecution

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of illegal slot machines that have popped up all over Missouri.  Torch Electronics is one of the manufacturers of these machines and they contend they are legal.  Few seem to agree and local prosecutors have slowly been working to take down the machines and bring charges.  Torch attempted to stop a Cole County case earlier this year and now it appears they are trying again in another case.  The St Louis Post Dispatch reports:

A Wildwood-based slot machine company sued a southwest Missouri county prosecutor this month in an attempt to stop an investigative subpoena into its operations.

The politically connected Torch Electronics sued Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson on July 15, asking the Greene County Circuit Court to quash an investigative subpoena directed at the company.

Torch argues its machines aren’t illegal gambling devices. Even so, the company faces felony illegal gambling charges in northern Missouri’s Linn County, and the Highway Patrol has deemed illegal machines such as Torch’s that are being placed in gas stations, restaurants and truck stops.

Torch’s lawsuit attempts to quash an investigative subpoena issued June 14 that seeks to “compel the production of a wide range of documents … including third-party contracts/agreements, financial records and technical information,” the lawsuit said.

Such suits, as well as a general inaction at the Missouri state legislative level, have once again called for support of a blanket and more statewide response to these illegal gambling machines. The Jefferson City New Tribune was the latest to call for action in their OpEd:

Illegal gambling machines have pervaded our state in recent years. Lawmakers and law enforcers need to address the problem. The Missouri Gaming Association estimates there are at least 14,000 illegal machines — almost as many as the number of legal ones in the state’s 13 casinos.

We understand the Gaming Association’s opposition to illegal gambling — all those machines at gas stations, restaurants and truck stops are taking a chunk of profits from the casinos and the Missouri Lottery. But the public should care, too. These machines aren’t regulated or taxed like ones in casinos. So there’s nothing to guard against minors or problem gamblers playing and the state isn’t getting a financial boost from the unregulated machines.

Unlike the Missouri Lottery, no proceeds from the unregulated machines are being used for education, for instance. As we recently reported, the machines are similar to slot machines: Players insert money, choose a game and wager, and are usually paid by a business’ cashier if they win.

Action from state lawmakers also is needed to clarify the laws. Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, advanced a bill this past session that would have done that. But it never advanced past the Senate Floor. We urge lawmakers to make addressing the problem a priority during the next session.

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

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.

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

Guest Editorial: Gaming companies placed a $62 million bet against Florida voters. Don’t let them win

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various attempts to expand gambling in Florida.  After a successful Amendment to the Florida Constitution, new gambling in the state must be approved by the voters.  So far, 4 different initiative potions dealing with gambling have been successfully funded to find their way on the ballot.  The Miami Herald Editorial Board has come out strongly in opposition and is warning Florida voters to avoid being deceived by all these gambling expansion measures.  Read below and for the full article, click HERE:

Consider yourself warned, Florida. The door has been flung wide open for more gambling and everyone is scrambling to get a piece of the action. How else to explain this astonishing piece of news: Gambling interests pumped a whopping $62 million in political contributions last month into groups and efforts that could influence the future of sports betting and casino gambling via ballot initiatives in 2022, according to a Miami Herald story.

With that kind of money on the table, the potential market in Florida must be huge. No doubt much of this interest springs from the Legislature’s easy approval this year of a $500 million gambling deal negotiated between the Gov. Ron Desantis and the Seminole Tribe.

Out-of-state, sports-gaming companiesFanDuel and DraftKings are each in for a cool $10 million, money they put into a political committee pushing to expand online sports betting across the state. They were iced out of the Seminole deal.

The Las Vegas Sands, a powerful new player, dropped $17 million into a political committee linked to two ballot issues for more casinos. Sources told the Herald that the company is interested in purchasing existing parimutuel licenses to open casinos in Jacksonville and other northern Florida spots.

Miami’s Magic City Casino anted up $15 million for its own political committee, official purpose unspecified. And the Seminole Tribe, winner of the last round of Gambling Gone Wild in this state, put $10 million into yet another political committee, mostly likely to defend its crown…

The timing of this slew of cash isn’t a coincidence. A new law was supposed to go into effect July 1 to limit contributions for signature-gathering — a requirement to get a proposed amendment on the ballot — to a paltry $3,000 per organization. But a lawsuit was filed, and a federal judge temporarily blocked the law just as it was about to go into effect…

It’s not completely clear yet which organization wants what next year. But the Miami Herald sketched it out this way:

FanDuel and DraftKings are looking for their own online sports betting deal to be approved by Florida voters. The Seminole Tribe wants to be ready to defend its 30-year gaming deal, which is still awaiting approval from the federal government. The Sands organization is eyeing casinos in northern Florida. And Magic City’s stake is designed to make sure parimutuels have a place at the table.

If that sounds like the state is being carved up like a roast at Sunday dinner, well, we agree…

But more gambling is not yet a done deal in this state. Getting a constitutional amendment onto the ballot in Florida isn’t easy. And any amendment must pass with at least 60 percent of the vote. No matter how much money the gambling companies throw at Florida, voters still have the final say.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/19 – 7/25

Missouri Highway Patrol seizes more gaming machines from Springfield convenience store

A couple was arrested after they left a 3-year-old child alone in a hotel room while they gambled in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, authorities said. Tom Tan Nguyen, 53, and Tin Thi Ngoc Nguyen, 37, were arrested Tuesday by Seminole Police on charges of child neglect without great bodily harm, Broward County jail records showed. Tom Tan Nguyen appeared in Broward bond court Wednesday, where prosecutors alleged that he and Tin Thi Ngoc Nguyen left the child in the room for several hours while they gambled downstairs. The child was able to get out of the room and became locked out of the room, prosecutors said. The couple, who were visiting from Tampa, were given pre-trial release but ordered not to have contact with the child.

Lucky Star: Six Oklahoma casinos hit by ransomware 

Lucky Star officials say they have contacted the FBI to investigate as multiple Oklahoma casinos get hit with a cyber-crime attack. The lights are down at the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, one of six tribal casinos in western Oklahoma to be hacked. “The money is there and that’s why they are a prime target,” said Teresa Rule, cyber crime expert. Lucky Star Casino officials issued a statement Monday, saying in part… “Lucky Star Casino has unfortunately joined the growing list of government agencies, businesses, and other casinos to be hit by a  ransomware attack.” But casino officials have not said what the hackers are demanding. Experts say since almost all the games in casinos are now computerized in some way or another, hackers use ransomware holds the casino main frame hostage. “They are big bullies – ‘if you will give me this much money, then I’ll give you control of your systems back,’” said Rule.”  Rule says sometimes casinos pay the ransom to get back to business, but she says that just feeds the system.

Kansas Man Gets Prison Sentence in Fraud Case Involving Small Credit Union

A former University of Kansas Medical Center administrator was sentenced to two years in federal prison last week for stealing more than $556,000 from an account he controlled at the $31 million KUMC Credit Union. U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Crabtree in Kansas City also ordered Michael Ahlers to pay restitution of $680,681 and serve three years of supervised release following his prison term. Ahlers pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of federal tax evasion in February. In new court documents, Ahlers attorney said his client was an alcoholic with a gambling addiction, who also owned a financially troubled liquor store while working as an administrative officer at KUMC’s Occupational Therapy Education Department. Prosecutors said Ahlers spent most of the funds on gambling, vacation trips, bars and restaurants.

Omaha Sports Academy founder accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars

Authorities are investigating a founder of the Omaha Sports Academy youth basketball program in connection with the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for the business. Officials are collecting records and looking into the financial activity of Bob Franzese, said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine. Franzese, 48, who was co-owner and general manager of OSA, was removed from the program in April. Kleine said investigators suspect Franzese was using the money for gambling. Willie Douglas, co-owner of Fast Break Sports LLC, told Omaha police on June 22 that the alleged embezzlement occurred from December 2016 to this April. Fast Break Sports LLC is the limited liability company associated with OSA and Predator Basketball League, according to Nebraska secretary of state records. Franzese, who had as much as a 25% ownership stake in OSA, was removed as general manager in April. The alleged theft was discovered as part of a recent audit.

Anti-cockfighting group starts ad campaign to pressure law enforcement 

Two animal protection groups that have gone after cockfighting for the last two years are using advertising to try to raise public pressure to force law enforcement to act. Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) and the Humane Farming Association (HFA) are partnering with Kentuckians to expose illegal cockfighting operations by purchasing ads in major newspapers in the state. Titled, “COCKFIGHTING IS DESTROYING KENTUCKY COMMUNITIES”, the hard-hitting ads detail a variety of issues the groups say are tied to cockfighting, “such as animal cruelty, drug dealing, illegal firearms, organized crime and rampant illegal gambling.”

The ad also points out alleged protection cockfighting pits have received from the Kentucky State Police, which the groups have notified several times of cockfights with no action taken. In addition, the group has pointed out alleged local law enforcement involvement, such as two Clay County deputies who were caught on video at one cockfight and a Laurel County Sheriff’s employee also has made social media posts suggesting involvement in cockfighting, the groups said.

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

Missouri Gaming Association Presses Legislators to Step up on Illegal Slot Machine Regulation

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to shut down the illegal slot machines that have popped up all over Missouri.  There have been numerous obstacles reported, but given the Missouri Gaming Commission can only regulate legal slot machines at the 13 Missouri Casinos, the legislature is in a position to pass meaningful regulation.  So far, all efforts to stop these illegal gambling machines that have swept the state have been limited to the local jurisdictions that have been willing to prosecute.  Many have called for a more uniformed and statewide approach to enforcement, including the Missouri Gaming Association.  They have praised the work of local law enforcement, but continue to press for a more comprehensive state-wide approach.  An online source reports:

The Missouri Gaming Association is calling for legislative action to stop the spread of illegal slot machines throughout the state. The association estimates there are at least 14,000 illegal machines in use statewide, a number approaching the total of 16,500 legal ones in Missouri’s 13 casinos.

Illegal slot machines aren’t exactly hiding, either, Missouri Gaming Association Executive Director Mike Winter said. Often, he said, they’re in plain sight.  “You don’t have to travel very far in the state or on a highway and stop in someplace and see one, two or more of these machines,” Winter said. 

The machines are common in gas stations, truck stops and convenience stores, but Winter said those business aren’t necessarily to blame and might not know the machines are illegal.

The association released a statement thanking the patrol for its efforts and faulting lawmakers: “The Missouri Gaming Association supports the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s investigations and recent mass seizures of illegal slot machines at Missouri gas stations, truck stops and restaurants. Because last session’s legislative efforts to address illegal slot machines in Missouri failed, the Missouri State Highway Patrol is now left to deal with the issue on their own.”

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/12 – 7/18

DraftKings Slumps as Hindenburg Research Alleges SBTech Ties to Illegal Gambling, Organized Crime

Shares of DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) are sliding Tuesday after noted short-selling activist Hindenburg Research published a lengthy report. The report alleges the gaming company’s SBTech unit operates in jurisdictions where sports betting is illegal and may have connections to money laundering and organized crime. Founded by Shalom Meckenzie, one of the richest men in Israel, SBTech was part of a 2020 three-way reverse merger involving DraftKings and special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp. That transaction paved the way for DraftKings to become a publicly traded entity.

At that time, SBTech, which is based in Bulgaria, contributed a quarter of the combined company’s revenue and “was the only positive contributor to operating income, providing both financial stability and technology to the deal,” according to Hindenburg. However, the research firm, which took a short position in the gaming stock, adds there’s a dark side to those benefits. “Unbeknownst to investors, DraftKings’ merger with SBTech also brings exposure to extensive dealings in black-market gaming, money laundering and organized crime,” said the research firm. “We estimate that roughly 50 percent of SBTech’s revenue continues to come from markets where gambling is banned, based on an analysis of DraftKings’ SEC filings, conversations with former employees, and supporting documents.”

Philly Man Surrenders in Fatal Atlantic City Casino Stabbing

A Philadelphia man wanted in the deadly stabbing of his girlfriend at an Atlantic City casino last week has turned himself in, authorities announced Tuesday. Frankie Lane, 59, faces murder and weapons charges stemming from the death of Sharon Whaley, 57, of Philadelphia. Her body was found Friday night inside a room at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, according to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. Whaley had suffered multiple stab wounds, prosecutors said, but a cause of death has not been determined.

Pennsylvania Gaming Commission imposes a total fine of $ 284,000 

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board After the regulator identified a series of failures, it issued a series of penalties and two non-monetary punitive measures. A total fine of $ 284,000 Void Gaming, Mountain View Thoroughbred Racing Association, Valley Forge Convention Center Partner* And Sugar shack game, In addition to Snowshoe Travel Plaza And Pit Stop Travel Plaza.

Boyd Gaming, who received the largest fine of $ 150,000, was sanctioned by the PGCB for failing to notify regulators of all relevant facts about why he relinquished his principal’s license in 2020 and determined board suitability. Hindered. Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing was fined $ 70,000 after an individual on the regulatory self-exclusion list entered the facility’s game floor.Individuals were then offered alcoholic beverages that led to addiction and subsequent damage to the vehicle.

Former Sheriff Lt. Sent to Prison for Moonlighting as Illegal Gambling Kingpin

Former Florence County Sheriff Lt. Mark Edward Fuleihan will serve a year and a day in a federal prison after pleading guilty to illegally running a gambling business. Fuleihan and one other former deputy received a plea deal back in April after admitting to unlawfully and knowingly managing and owning an illegal gambling business. Between 2013 and 2017, Fuleihan accepted monetary bribes from “associates” in the gambling business in exchange for tipping them off about potential raids and investigations. At least one associate said Fuleihan also sold previously seized gambling machines back to members of the gambling ring. Part of his plea deal requires Fuleihan to pay every victim who might have been harmed by his crimes. Charges of intimidating witnesses and jurors, and tampering with a witness, victim or informant were dropped as part of the deal.

onday. So how many more could follow? Sgt. Mike McClure says the goal of the raids is to help educate people on the Missouri statutes of such machines. ”Those machines are illegal, and our job is to bring people into compliance, and in this case not necessarily enforcement, but to educate people on the illegality of these machines,” said Sgt. McClure.

Couple Left 3-Year-Old Alone in Hotel Room to Gamble at Hard Rock Casino

A couple was arrested after they left a 3-year-old child alone in a hotel room while they gambled in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, authorities said. Tom Tan Nguyen, 53, and Tin Thi Ngoc Nguyen, 37, were arrested Tuesday by Seminole Police on charges of child neglect without great bodily harm, Broward County jail records showed. Tom Tan Nguyen appeared in Broward bond court Wednesday, where prosecutors alleged that he and Tin Thi Ngoc Nguyen left the child in the room for several hours while they gambled downstairs. The child was able to get out of the room and became locked out of the room, prosecutors said. The couple, who were visiting from Tampa, were given pre-trial release but ordered not to have contact with the child.

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

Congressional attempts to redefine Tribal Gambling to allow Florida Gambling Compact Underway

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to pass a legal gambling compact in Florida with the Seminole Tribe, however, the new mobile sports betting provision has sparked opposition and now formal lawsuits to stop such action. Federal law allows for tribal gambling, but there are limitations and the current regulatory language and legal precedent are fairly clear that tribal gambling must be on tribal land, making online or mobile gambling outside of the legal purview if the gambling in question is not legal in the state where mobile/internet gamblers could be located.  The Florida Seminole compact is facing two current lawsuits and is under review by the Federal Government, but two Congressional lawmakers are taking action to quickly change federal tribal gambling regulation to allow the Seminole Compact to circumvent the lawsuits and the Florida constitution.  An online source reports:

Two congressmen have filed legislation that would seek to help more tribal casinos implement online gaming. US Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) issued a statement into the Congressional Record  Thursday to introduce HR 4308 

“This bill would clarify that, for purposes of tribal government gaming, the location of the wager occurs at the location of the server, unless a state and Indian tribe otherwise agree,” Correa said in his remarks.

“Making this clarification will keep intact the current system of tribal gaming and eliminate any frivolous litigation.”

The bill announcement occurred one day before a federal lawsuit was filed in Florida. That lawsuit seeks to stop the amended tribal gaming compact that would give the Seminole Tribe exclusive statewide mobile sports betting rights in that state.

It’s unclear how successful this blatant attempt to circumvent pending litigation and the Florida constitution will be given the time frame, but this isn’t the first time online-type tribal federal legislation has been filed.  However, those attempts have all failed.  Those attempts were more broad in scope, but still couldn’t receive the support needed.  Time will tell if this avenue impacts the current course of the Seminole compact.  

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/05 – 7/11

Companies accused of illegal gambling donate $350K to PACs tied to Missouri lobbyist 

A pair of companies suing the state to block a crackdown on unregulated slot machines combined this week to drop $350,000 into six political action committees tied to a controversial lobbyist. According to disclosures filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission this week, Torch Electronics and Warrenton Oil made a series of donations to MO Majority PAC, Missouri Growth PAC, Missouri C PAC, Missouri Senior PAC, Missouri AG PAC and Conservative Leaders of Missouri.

Each PAC has ties to Steve Tilley, a lobbyist and former state lawmaker who is a fundraiser and close adviser to Gov. Mike Parson. Torch cut eight checks, each for $33,333. All were reported this week. Warrenton Oil cut seven checks, each for $13,000. Tilley’s lobbying firm represents Torch, which owns games that operate like slot machines in locations around the state.

The Missouri Gaming Commission has deemed them gambling devices, which are prohibited outside of licensed casinos, and the state highway patrol considers them illegal. Several local prosecutors are also pursuing criminal charges against the companies that own and house the machines.

Poker Player Dennis Blieden Sentenced to 6.5 Years for Stealing $22 Million

Poker player Dennis Blieden, 31, was sentenced to 79 months in prison on Wednesday for embezzling $22 million from a digital marketing and talent agency that looked after social media influencers. In February 2018, the Cincinnati native won the World Poker Tour’s LA Poker Classic for $1 million. But those winnings were just a drop in the ocean compared with the money he had already stolen from his employer, Hollywood-based StyleHaul Inc. Blieden was the VP of accounting and finance for StyleHaul from October 2019 and had control of its bank accounts. According to an internal SyleHaul memo filed by prosecutors, in 2017 alone he embezzled $15 million.

He did this by wiring cash to his personal account, while creating fake accounting records and bogus Western Union letters so it would appear money was going to clients. Prosecutors said this allowed him to live out a fantasy elite-poker lifestyle, entering the biggest tournaments, playing in the biggest cash games, and rubbing shoulders with players he’d previously only idolized on TV. And he curried favor with his new friends by backing them in tournaments. He issued more than $1 million in checks to other players, according to court filings.

Donor to Nebraska anti-gambling campaign will pay record-breaking late filing fee

An Ohio-based group that poured more than $2.3 million into fighting Nebraska’s casino gambling measures last fall will pay a record-breaking fee for missing a campaign finance report deadline. But the fee would have been 10 times larger if not for action by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission last week. Commission members voted 6-3 at their June 4 meeting to grant a request for relief from Collective Prosperity. They reduced the fee to $23,130, down from the original $231,300 that was determined by a formula in state law. The reduced amount is still the largest fee ever imposed for filing a single campaign finance report late, according to Frank Daley, the commission’s executive director.

Former Employee Sentenced for Stealing Money from Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas

A federal judge sentenced 50-year-old Eduardo Riojas Villarreal of San Antonio to 21 months in federal prison yesterday for stealing money from the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas (Kickapoo). In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Alia Moses ordered Villarreal to pay $167,109.41 in restitution to the Kickapoo and be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term. On September 9, 2019, Villarreal pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement and theft from Indian organizations.  According to court documents, Villarreal served as an accounts payable manager for the Kickapoo for approximately four years beginning in April 2017.  During that time, Villarreal wrote fraudulent checks payable to his wife from the Kickapoo general operating account, which is funded primarily by revenue from the Lucky Eagle Casino. He deposited those checks into his own personal bank account.  Villarreal admitted there was no legitimate basis for issuing these checks and that his wife knew nothing about his scheme.

Betting firms won £1.3m in stolen money from gambling addict

Betting firms won £1.3m in stolen money from a gambling addict without establishing where the funds came from, it has emerged, reigniting concern about whether firms do sufficient due diligence on punters who lose large sums. Andy May, 44, was sentenced at Norwich crown court on Monday to four years for fraud after admitting siphoning funds from the clothing company where he was a senior manager earning more than £50,000 a year. According to betting records seen by the Guardian, May placed thousands of bets, some with stakes of more than £50,000, with companies including Betfair, Betway, and BoyleSports.

The companies gave him incentives such as free bets and tickets to race meets, football and rugby matches, details obtained via a subject access request show. But they did little to check he could afford his habit, or find out where the money came from, until he had racked up huge losses. May funded his gambling by stealing more than £1.3m from the outdoor clothing company Sealskinz, the court heard, spending almost all of it with online gambling firms.

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