Category Archives: Crime

A Brief Look at Crime 12/18 – 12/24

Two R.I. men get prison for lottery-related beating death

Two Rhode Island men are headed to prison for beating a man to death aboard a sailboat over lottery winnings. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says Richard Baribault was sentenced Friday to life plus ten years. Troy Gunderway received a 55-year term with 35 years to serve. Baribault was convicted this summer of murder and other offenses in the 2015 death of 70-year-old Fernando Silva. Gunderway pleaded guilty to similar charges in March. Prosecutors say the Warwick men went to the marina to rob Silva, also known as “Captain Fredy,” on his boat after he won several hundred dollars playing Keno. Silva was beaten in the process and died of his injuries. Prosecutors say Gunderway later piloted the boat into Warwick Cove and abandoned it. The harbormaster later found Silva’s decomposed body.

‘Shoot Me,’ Man Says Before Fatal Gunfire at Lucky Eagle Casino

A Thurston County Sheriff’s Office deputy ordered an armed and suicidal man in a parking lot at the Lucky Eagle Casino in Rochester to drop his gun numerous times before fatally shooting him last month, according to investigative reports from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office obtained by The Chronicle through a public records request. “I had no other means to stop that threat and if he would’ve lifted that gun up and shot at me, I wouldn’t have had any reaction whatsoever,” Deputy Brett Campbell told detectives, as quoted in Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Det. Jamey McGinty’s report. Officer Robert Strader, of the Chehalis Tribal Police Department, reported that when he responded, he saw Deputy Campbell running from the Jeep back to his patrol vehicle. Two other law enforcement officers were at the scene. James was handcuffed and lying on the ground on the driver’s side of the Jeep when Chehalis Tribal Police arrived, they reported, bleeding from multiple bullet wounds in his upper right chest area. Officers at the scene began attempting to aid James, packing his bullet wounds with gauze as they waited for medics, Chehalis Tribal officers wrote in their reports.

Car dealer Ralph Ahmet tried to smuggle drugs worth £12 million into Kent in Winnebago

A “high end” car dealer tried to smuggle a cocktail of drugs – with a street value of £12 million – into Kent stashed in his Winnebago. Ralph Ahmet – who has a home and his business in Dubai – has construction a hidden compartment inside the America-built 10 metre mobile vehicle. He was stopped in September by UK Border Force officials in Coquelles and the 125 kilos of cocaine, heroin and cannabis were found near the petrol tank. Defence barrister Paul Lamb told Canterbury Crown Court that the car dealer, who has served a jail term for drug smuggling, had invested £300,000 in a motor vehicle venture which failed. Ahmet also had a gambling problem and decided to accept a £50,000 offer by unnamed dealers to drive the Moneybag from Germany to the UK. “He accepts the stupidity of his actions which were borne out of desperation, “ he added.

San Bruno casino facing $8 million penalty over alleged money laundering on premises

The federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has hit Artichoke Joe’s Casino in San Bruno with an $8 million penalty for allegedly violating a number of anti-money-laundering laws over the past eight years. From October 2009 until this month, FinCEN claims, the casino — one of the largest so-called card clubs in the state — failed to create adequate internal controls intended to detect, deter and report suspicious transactions. In a statement released on Friday, FinCEN Acting Director Jamal El-Hindi said that “for years, Artichoke Joe’s turned a blind eye to loan sharking, suspicious transfers of high-value gaming chips and flagrant criminal activity that occurred in plain sight.” “Casinos, card clubs and others in the gaming industry should consider their risk of exploitation by criminal elements, and understand that they will be held accountable if they disregard anti-money-laundering and illicit finance laws,” El-Hindi said.

The casino was raided by federal and state law enforcement officials and temporarily closed in March 2011. The raid led to the conviction of two of the casino’s customers on loan-sharking charges. According to FinCEN, senior-level employees at the casino knew that loan sharks were conducting criminal activity at the casino, using Artichoke Joe’s gaming chips to facilitate illegal transactions. FinCEN claims the casino’s operators failed to file reports on the alleged illegal activity, like loan sharks passing chips to casino patrons on the gaming floor in clear sight of the casino’s employees.

Former CFO admits stealing more than $1 million from company

The former chief financial officer of a New Jersey orthopedic care provider has admitted stealing more than $1 million from the company for his personal use. Federal prosecutors say 70-year-old Harry Wolfmuller pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud. The former Belmar resident now faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced March 13 and must pay $1,175,720 in restitution. Wolfmuller was the CFO for an orthopedic care provider that has offices in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Prosecutors say he cashed checks from the company’s business accounts between 2007 and 2015 and spent the money on restaurant meals, golf outings, gambling, lottery tickets and other unapproved personal expenses. He then misrepresented the nature of these transactions in the company’s accounting records to make them appear as legitimate business expenses.

Lenexa woman dies after shooting near 7th Street Casino in KCK

A Lenexa woman is dead after a shooting outside a casino in Kansas City, KS. The shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday in a parking garage outside of the 7th Street Casino, located at 777 N Seventh Street Trafficway. Overland Park Police officers stopped a vehicle at about 1:20 a.m. near southbound Interstate 35 and Antioch Road to assist a Mission officer who had pulled the car over for speeding. Officers noticed that a Hispanic woman riding in the vehicle had been shot and had a faint pulse. CPR was administered but the woman died on the side of the road. Police say the woman was 28-years-old. They say they do not know how the woman and the man driving the vehicle are connected. “The preliminary investigation revealed that she was meeting up with an acquaintance,” KCK Police Department Public Information Officer Cameron Morgan said. “That’s all I know for sure right now.” The driver is not considered a suspect. He says he was trying to take the woman to Shawnee Mission Medical Center, the closest hospital he knew of.

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

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A Brief Look at Crime 12/11 – 12/17

‘He Pulled Out a Gun and Shot Him’ – Witness Describes Bakersfield Casino Shooting

About a dozen shots rang out just before 6 p.m. on Friday Nov. 3, at the Golden West Casino in South Bakersfield, California, according to a witness interviewed on KBAK Eyewitness News. A man identified in an eyewitness interview as ‘Doug,’ a regular at the Golden West Casino, said a black male got into an argument with a security guard when he was asked for ID. The man then pulled out a gun and shot the guard dead, wounding another. Security personnel returned fire but failed to bring down the shooter, who escaped from the scene of the incident. When Kern County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrived on the scene, they found the security guard dead outside the casino entrance, said spokesman Lt. Ian Chandler. Police did not confirm that a second security guard had been wounded. The police located a man with a gunshot wound at a nearby market and took him into custody. The department is treating the individual as a “person of interest in the shooting,” according to Chandler. More than 100 people were inside the casino at the time of the shooting. None were shot, but some sustained injuries while running for cover.

Gala pays £2.3m after stolen money gambled away

A Gambling Commission investigation found “significant flaws” in the way the company dealt with two high-spending customers. Gaming operator Gala Interactive has agreed a £2.3m penalty with regulators after failings which saw two high-spending customers gamble away stolen money online. Gala, which includes bingo and poker brands and is owned by Ladbrokes Coral, has agreed to repay the £1.3m stolen funds to the victims – plus £1m towards research into problem gambling. The Gambling Commission said its failures were aggravated by the fact that they took place just as the business was giving assurances following a previous, similar case. Ladbrokes Coral said it accepted that the failures saw it fall short of accepted standards and offered to pay a further £200,000 towards research in addition to the penalty package. One of the customers at the centre of the case, later jailed for four years for stealing from an employer, lost £837,545 over 14 months. The other, who gambled away £432,765 over 11 months, was jailed for four-and-a-half years for a money laundering offence. An investigation found there were “significant flaws” in Gala’s dealings with the two high-spending customers and that it breached regulations that protect consumers. The Gambling Commission said the firms “failed to effectively interact” with the customers who were displaying traits of problem gambling, and did not have written policies in place that could have curbed the behaviour.

Man attempts to rob Las Vegas casino 3 different times

Over the course of three months, a robber decided to test his luck not once but three times at the M Resort in Las Vegas. On Aug. 24, Gregory Bolusan reportedly entered the M Resort at 3:54 a.m. with a handgun and a backpack. He demanded that the cage employee hand over all of their money but was unsuccessful due to the employee fleeing the cage. Bolusan returned to the M Resort on Sept. 10 at 5:33 a.m. with the intentions robbing the casino cage again. This time he made away with $29,589. Investigators were able to identify him because he wore the same clothing, drove the same vehicle and used a similar gun and backpack. In his final attempt, Bolusan returned to the M Resort on Oct. 28 and was able to use the same game plan to make away with $33,480 – or so he thought. Bolusan was wearing different clothes during this robbery attempt but was driving the exact same vehicle, parked in the exact same spot, and entered the exact same doors as before. This led to M Resort security members apprehending Bolusan before he could get away with the cash. During the arrest, it was determined that he was driving a white 2010 Toyota Camry and that his gun was not real. Bolusan was booked into the Henderson Detention Center on several counts of attempted robbery, burglary.

Radio host who teamed with ex-NFL player shocked by charges

A radio host who teamed up for years with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason on a New York City sports show said Wednesday that he was shocked by his arrest and will prove his innocence. Craig Carton, 48, spoke outside Manhattan federal court after pleading not guilty to fraud charges in an indictment returned last week. He told reporters he entered the plea because he was “unequivocally not guilty.” The longtime co-host of WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton” show was arrested in September on charges that he misappropriated at least $5.6 million from two investors in a ticket reselling business designed to raise millions of dollars so he could pay off gambling debts. Free on $500,000 bond, he quit his job shortly after the arrest. “I was shocked when I was arrested and even more surprised that the government was accusing me of running a complete sham as they put it,” Carton said with his lawyer at his side.

Czap gets four years for taking $6.1 million from Newark company

Czap will be required to turn over more than $1 million in assets that represent some of the proceeds obtained from her activities that involved embezzling $6.1 million from a financial services company. Czap pleaded guilty on June 1 to one count of wire fraud, one count of money laundering, and one count of making false statements on tax returns. Beginning in January 2011 and through August 2016, while employed as the Vice President of Accounting at an unnamed financial services company in Newark, Czap made 497 separate fraudulent online transactions from the company’s accounts into her personal accounts. Prosecutors said Czap disguised these transactions, ranging from $1,000 to $38,527, as payments to corporate health insurance or payments to corporate marketers and altered the company’s general ledger to further conceal the transfers. In total, Czap obtained more than $6.1 million through her fraud. Czap converted these electronic transfers to cash, through either ATM withdrawals or cash advances at several casinos. After gambling, often briefly, she would cash out at the casino and receive US currency. Federal law requires that all income, whether obtained legally or illegally be declared on tax returns. Czap failed to report the proceeds of her fraud on her tax return for years 2013 through 2015.

Man arrested for mass shooting threats at casino

Authorities say an Ohio man has been arrested for threatening to carry out mass shootings at a megachurch and the Las Vegas casino where his estranged wife works. The FBI says 28-year-old Wei Li was transferred from police custody to federal authorities Thursday after being charged in a criminal complaint with interstate communications of a threat and destruction of evidence. The Cuyahoga Falls resident is accused of sending his estranged wife text messages threatening to kill her and commit mass shootings at a casino and a church with more than 1,000 members. The FBI says Li acknowledged sending the texts to his wife but didn’t intend to carry out the shootings. No firearms were found in his home.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/04 – 12/10

Ex-cop, son admit to roles in $4 million illegal sports-betting scheme

An ex-cop who once spent time in prison for participating in an advertising scheme, has racked up another felony conviction, this time for his role in illegal Internet-based sports gambling rings, which, authorities said, hauled in about $4 million in wagers. Ciro Barone, 68, of West Brighton, has pleaded guilty to a felony count of promoting gambling and a misdemeanor count of conspiracy. His son, Woodrow resident Paul Barone, who was 32 when arrested in January, has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of attempting to promote gambling. Prosecutors said the Barones worked from Jan. 18, 2015, through Jan. 3, 2016, with a co-defendant, Woodrow resident Robert Rossi, who managed bettor accounts from a wire room. Father and son passed out gambling accounts to bettors, while recruiting new clients and collecting wagers and doling out winnings, said an indictment. In a recorded phone conversation on Sept. 5, 2015, Ciro Barone told an unidentified person he received a “commission” of 30 percent if the user of a certain account lost money placing bets, the indictment alleges. Last week, Rossi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of attempting to promote gambling, and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge. In a separate scheme, Ciro Barone and a co-defendant Francisco Muro, 78, of New Springville, were responsible to recruit new clients, collect money from bettors and distribute winnings, said another indictment.

Waterville off-track betting parlor sues former employee

A former teller at Favorites, the off-track betting parlor in Waterville, is being sued for $696,000 the owner says was stolen over the past 3 ½ years. The lawsuit, filed in the parlor’s name, Pioneer Gaming LLC, alleges that Michael S. Tardiff Sr., 50, of Augusta, embezzled the money between November 2013 and August 2017. John Barnicle, attorney for Pioneer Gaming, filed the civil action in Kennebec County Superior Court in September, and a judge approved an attachment of $696,000 on Tardiff’s property. He said he reviewed closing settlement reports following “significant but unexplained losses at Favorites,” and saw “a huge discrepancy between vouchers sold and vouchers cashed in at the end of (2016)” andcalculated that $232,000 more money was cashed out than taken in.

Woman Who Bilked Oregon Retiree Out of $3M Gets Prison

A manicurist who helped trick an Oregon retiree out of $3 million was sentenced Wednesday to 21 months in federal prison. Thy Mihn Phan and her boyfriend led the victim to believe the money collected during a three-year scheme was to help with legal issues and a landscaping business. Instead, they blew almost every penny while enjoying a high-roller lifestyle at Las Vegas casinos, including Aria, Bellagio, Caesars Palace and MGM Grand. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Bradford said the victim lost everything he saved for retirement. “They didn’t just steal the victim’s money,” Bradford told U.S. District Judge Anna Brown. “They stole his dignity, they stole his happiness.” Prosecutors said Van and Phan sought loans from R.W., saying the landscaping business was struggling to stay afloat. At one point, Van presented his financial problems as so dire he was contemplating suicide. Moreover, the pair said Van needed more money because he was going through a divorce and had legal troubles. They promised to pay him back with interest. Prosecutors said they made some interest payments to keep the scheme going. Mostly, however, the money vanished in a long run of bad gambling luck.

Former Chief Financial Officer Of Insurance Brokerage Company Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement And Tax Evasion

On Friday, United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman announced that the former Chief Financial Officer of Market Finders Insurance Corporation pleaded guilty to tax evasion and embezzling nearly $2,000,000 during a two-year period. 63-year-old Sylvania Rebecca Smith of Louisville, Kentucky was previously charged with one count of wire fraud for devising an embezzlement scheme to acquire funds from her employer. Smith admitted to generating fraudulent loan checks from Market Finders while serving as the company’s CFO. She also admitted to diverting the money into a bank account owned by PBS between July 2013 to April 2015. The defendant created fraudulent insurance financing contracts between Market Finders and clients of PBS Insurance without permission from existing clients. She also attempted to conceal her activities by manipulating records. The defendant admitted that she and her husband used some of the money to fund her husband’s business, as well as to pay for personal expenses and gambling activities.

Hungerford butler stole more than £2million from trusting employers

A SCHEMING butler secretly looted paintings by Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec and more than £2m worth of artefacts belonging to a Hungerford couple. Former soldier Simon Dalton, 54, helped himself to gems and other valuables over a three-year period from the safe of millionaire Maj Christopher Hanbury and his wife Bridget, to feed his gambling addiction. The 73-year-old victim, a former member of the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars and an aide to the Sultan of Brunei, is a family friend of Prince Charles. Manchester Crown Court heard how Dalton kept his addiction a secret from the couple, who run a polo stud farm. When the victims enquired about items that were missing from the safe, Dalton would cast doubt on their memories. The truth emerged after the family mentioned to Dalton they would install cameras in the safe – and the butler, who had a grace and favour cottage on the Hanburys’ estate – knew the game was up.

Maine casino campaigns fined record $500k by ethics panel

The Maine ethics commission has levied $500,000 in fines against the four committees behind a referendum that, if approved Nov. 7, would allow a casino in York County. The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices levied the fine Friday. The Portland Press Herald reported the fine is almost 10 times the commission’s previous record fine. Voters will decide next week if entrepreneur Shawn Scott can run a casino in York County. Emails released by the five-member ethics commission late Wednesday detail communications among the Scotts, Timberlake and other associates as the casino drive progressed. The commission voted in June to investigate the ballot question committee Horseracing Jobs Fairness, where it got its financing to collect signatures to put the casino referendum on the ballot and why it failed to meet finance report filing deadlines. Three other ballot question committees formed by Lisa Scott were swept into the investigation and all four were penalize. The records also include financial reports and other emails that show how Shawn Scott and partners, one of whom was based in Cambodia, were the key people in the $4.5 million push to gather signatures and get the casino proposal on the ballot.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 11/20 – 12/03

Organized crime a ‘viable threat to public safety’ in B.C. casinos: gov’t report

The presence of organized criminals in casinos is “a viable threat to public safety,” the B.C. government was warned in an April internal memo obtained by Postmedia. The memo — sent to John Mazure, B.C.’s assistant deputy minister in charge of the gaming enforcement branch — sheds light on the level of awareness in the government of how money laundering in casinos could pose a danger for both B.C. residents and the provincial economy. “The gaming policy enforcement branch intelligence unit reports that organized crime presence in and around B.C. casinos presents a viable threat to public safety,” the April 2017 memo says. The memo was written by Len Meilleur, the gaming enforcement branch’s director of compliance. It refers to RCMP and B.C. Lottery Commission investigations that led to allegations that “illegitimate lenders” associated with organized crime are lending cash earned through crime to VIP gamblers, with drop-offs in B.C. casino parking lots. After a series of redacted paragraphs, Meilleur’s memo said: “This information is proving well founded within the current investigation and these subjects have been identified as threats to public safety … because of their involvement in a wide array of criminal activity.” Documents also say that evidence provided by police to the BCLC suggests organized crime’s laundering of money through casinos and thus into B.C.’s economy is “substantial.”

Lotto rapist faces paying back £2.5million as fraud cops prepare for possible prosecution

Lotto rapist Edward Putman may have to hand back a £2.5million jackpot as fraud cops prepare a possible prosecution, the Sunday People can reveal. In a significant development, the convicted sex attacker, 52, is facing potential court action over claims he used a fake ticket to scoop his 2009 windfall. Despite a wall of silence, ­detectives have ceaselessly probed allegations that Putman used Camelot fraud unit worker Giles Knibbs, who later killed himself – as an inside man. It is believed officers worked with the Crown Prosecution Service as they obtained signed statements from key witnesses. The Sunday People understands a Camelot whistleblower has broken cover to provide vital clues into the alleged fraud. Now, in a dramatic twist, ­police are expected to hand over a file of evidence “imminently” to prosecutors. We have also discovered that Putman – jailed in 1991 for the violent rape of a 17-year-old girl – believed officers had dropped their probe. But he was “shocked” to ­discover the investigation was ongoing and officers had refused to give up on the probe. If criminal charges are ­activated and Putman is ­convicted he could be made to repay the seven-figure fortune under the Proceeds of Crime Act. A source close to the ­investigation said: “For months, even years, police have been frustrated by a lack of evidence and limited information. “But they haven’t given up and they have kept plugging away in the background. They’re nearing the point where they can produce a file for the CPS. “This is a significant milestone. Putman had his solicitor contact detectives because he thought the whole thing was over. “He couldn’t believe his ears when he was told they were still investigating. It was pure shock. “People in the ­investigation have been told that someone who works at the Lottery had finally come forward.

Gambling game prompts shooting in Decatur

The Decatur Police Department is looking for a suspect following a shooting on Sunday night. Police say they responded to the area of North Edward Street and West Center Street in Decatur for the report of shots fired, around 8:40 p.m. On scene police located a 21-year-old male victim who was bleeding from the mouth nose and had a gunshot to his leg . His injuries were not life threatening. The victim provided no information about who shot him, police said. He eventually told police that he was attacked and beaten, then shot by an unknown subject he believed to male. At the scene police found evidence of a abandoned dice game. The victim said there was gambling in the area, but wouldn’t say where. Officers located a vehicle with numerous bullet holes.

Man shot, killed by Thurston County deputy outside casino

Thurston County deputies are investigating a fatal officer-involved shooting that occurred Tuesday night in Rochester. The shooting happened at the parking lot of the Lucky Eagle Casino before 8 p.m. The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office told KIRO 7 a deputy shot a man who brandished a weapon at the officer. The man was airlifted to St. Peters Hospital in Olympia, where he was pronounced deceased.. No deputies were injured.

Extreme violence at illegal gaming house near Markham

Over the past year, York Region has seen a slew of violent incidents linked to illegal gambling and raising questions about organized crime. In Vaughan, a portion of Woodbridge’s Caffe Corretto was blown out in June 2017, exposing illegal gaming machines, and two people were murdered in a hail of bullets in a Woodbridge illegal gambling site, Moka Cafe, in 2015. In Markham, a man was allegedly kidnapped from outside a well-known gaming site before being killed and dumped on the side of Old Kennedy Road, just north of Steeles Avenue East, in November 2016. Now Toronto police have recovered deleted video from a Sept. 18 incident, in which two men were badly beaten at an illegal Asian gaming house just south of the Markham border, in North Toronto. One of the victims was treated with a brain bleed and remains in a non-verbal state following a strike to the head with a machete. Det. Andrew Lipkus, from Toronto police’s street violence task force, said the gaming house had level of sophistication.

Genovese mobster charged with tax evasion

This guy could be the next Al Capone. An aged wiseguy has been slapped with tax evasion charges for failing to fork over $367,000 in dues from real estate sales, authorities said. Genovese solider Salvatore “Sallie” Demeo neglected to give the feds a piece of his $2 million action when he unloaded his shares in two Brooklyn properties in 2013 and 2014, according to court documents. Prosecutors said a small chunk of the money was funneled into the plumbing company of a mobbed-up associate, but said they couldn’t locate the rest. The beaming 77-year-old was released on $2 million bond Thursday, and excitedly poked his attorney in the ribs as the judge ordered he’d walk free. This isn’t the grizzled geezer’s first run-in with the law. He was charged in 1996 for stealing some $400,000 from a Manalapan, N.J. bank, and spent the next year on the lam, attempting to avoid federal racketeering charges. He was eventually caught, convicted, and sentenced to 57 months behind bars. Most recently, the mobster was sentenced to probation last month to running an illegal off-shore gambling ring in Costa Rica.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 11/13 – 11/19

‘Property Wars’ star agrees to $2M, jail time deal in Phoenix fraud case

A former “Property Wars” star agreed to a plea deal in a Phoenix fraud case Tuesday that will see him pay $2 million in restitution and serve at least a decade behind bars. “[Scott Menaged] pleaded guilty to three charges: Conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering conspiracy,” IRS Special Agent Brian Watson said. In May, Menaged pleaded not guilty in the case. According to the plea agreement, Menaged and three others obtained more than 2,700 loans between June 2013 and January 2016 worth more than $730 million. Menaged pleaded guilty to embezzling $34 million of that for personal expenses, car payments, Las Vegas trips, gambling and large transfers of funds to friends and family. “It was basically a scheme where they obtaining loans that they weren’t entitled to, using the names of deceased individuals, to get those loans,” Watson said.

Financial advisor conned elderly people out of over £800,000

A man has been sentenced to 40 months in prison after he conned elderly people out of a total of £844,010 to fund his gambling addiction. Mark Pickering, of Rowley Close in Swadlincote, appeared at Nottingham Crown Court today (Thursday 19 October 2017) having pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud by abuse of position of trust on Monday 14 August. The 50-year-old was working as a self-employed Financial Advisor, when he persuaded eight people to provide him with their savings on the pretence that they would be placed into legitimate investment schemes. But instead, Pickering paid the money into his own account to fund his online gambling addiction. In July 2016, Pickering approached an investment company he was working with and notified them of the theft of funds from his clients. The police investigation that immediately followed, revealed he had lost nearly £1,155,000 through gambling online over a number of years.

Former Southeast Missouri Nursing Home Owner Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling $667,000

The former CEO of Benchmark Healthcare in southeast Missouri’s Festus is heading to federal prison, for embezzling $667,000 in Medicaid funds. Johnnie Mac Sells was sentenced on Friday to pay back the money he pocketed, and also to serve 41 months in prison, the maximum sentence allowed under federal law. Sells admitted to spending $185,000 of the Medicaid funds at gentlemen’s clubs, $15,000 on pet care, $4,500 at casinos and $12,000 in country club fees between 2014-15. Due to Sells embezzlement, Benchmark went without money to spend on food and other supplies for their residents. The meals residents were given included a clear bowl of broth and a cookie. The facility lost Medicare and Medicaid eligibility, and shut down in 2016. Cells attorney requested a lesser sentence, but it was denied.

Farmington woman pleads guilty to running illegal gambling ring

A Farmington, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court here Wednesday to running an illegal gambling ring and money laundering. Carol Jean Hazer, 60, admitted she ran an illegal “high stakes” sports betting operation and filed fraudulent tax returns to hide the nearly $500,000 she made from the gambling ring, prosecutors said. Hazer used some of the money to buy a house and a car, prosecutors said. She faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000. A district court judge will determine Hazer’s sentence Jan. 17. The case was investigated by the FBI and IRS.

3 charged in gruesome alleged Long Island dog fighting operation

Three people are now charged following a crackdown of what authorities are describing as a barbaric dog fighting ring on Long Island. Authorities say the pit bulls were bred and kept in deplorable conditions while being trained to fight to the death, all for the profit of their owners. Investigators describe it as a sickening yet sophisticated training operation, and three men from Wyandanch are facing multiple felony counts related to animal cruelty. The suspects were identified as 34-year-old Richard Davis, 49-year-old Martin Newkirk and 26-year-old Taikeem Wheeler. Authorities say 36 dogs were rescued, half of them puppies including one that was only a week old. Three of the dogs had to be euthanized. Schneiderman also said that the dogs were given performance enhancers, were tethered at times, and were forced to wear weighted vests and run on treadmills to become stronger and tougher. According to Schneiderman, it is estimated that at least 40,000 people are involved with dog fighting across the country. The illegal gambling from dog fighting can earn organizers tens of thousands of dollars at a time.

Ex-cop, son admit to roles in $4 million illegal sports-betting scheme

An ex-cop who once spent time in prison for participating in an advertising scheme, has racked up another felony conviction, this time for his role in illegal Internet-based sports gambling rings, which, authorities said, hauled in about $4 million in wagers. Ciro Barone, 68, of West Brighton, has pleaded guilty to a felony count of promoting gambling and a misdemeanor count of conspiracy. His son, Woodrow resident Paul Barone, who was 32 when arrested in January, has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of attempting to promote gambling. Prosecutors said the Barones worked from Jan. 18, 2015, through Jan. 3, 2016, with a co-defendant, Woodrow resident Robert Rossi, who managed bettor accounts from a wire room. Father and son passed out gambling accounts to bettors, while recruiting new clients and collecting wagers and doling out winnings, said an indictment. In a recorded phone conversation on Sept. 5, 2015, Ciro Barone told an unidentified person he received a “commission” of 30 percent if the user of a certain account lost money placing bets, the indictment alleges. 

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


A Brief Look at Crime 11/06 – 11/12

Gambling addict ‘killed dad and daughter, 8, when he torched their house to destroy CCTV of him robbing

A GAMBLING addict killed a dad and daughter when he torched their home to destroy CCTV footage of him robbing a neighbour, a court heard. Daniel Jones is accused of pouring petrol through the letterbox of the Broadhead family house after he stole from a safe in a nearby home. The 29-year-old, who had a “major gambling problem”, filled up containers with petrol before starting the horrific blaze at 4.17am, Leeds Crown Court heard. Neighbours rushed to save the family and rescued mum Sara Broadhead and elder daughter Mia, now 36 and 14. But the “smoke and heat from the fire made it impossible” for them to rescue Andrew, 42, and Kiera, eight. Both were pronounced dead at the scene in Wakefield, West Yorks. Prosecuting, Jonathan Sharp, said: “This is a tragic case in many ways. Andrew and Sara Broadhead lived with their daughters Mia and Kiera.

Guns, money and drugs seized during illegal gambling bust in San Bernardino

Police seized several guns, gambling machines, some drugs and in excess of $100,000 in cash from several locations in San Bernardino — all part of a crackdown on illegal gambling, police said. “We’ve got multiple people in custody,” said San Bernardino police Lt. Mike Madden about the operation that targeted five businesses and one residence. Madden identified the owner of the locations as Jihad Saker, 57, of San Bernardino. He was arrested but information was not immediately available about the bail amount set. Fourteen people were arrested but names were not immediately available Thursday afternoon. Locations that were raided included a site in the 1700 block of Base Line and another in the 1100 block of West 17th Street, officials said. Some 35 gaming machines were seized along with computer hard drives. All five locations were associated with the same group of people, officials said.

Former Skagway tribal administrator signs guilty plea admitting to embezzlement

A former Skagway tribal administrator has signed a guilty plea admitting to embezzlement. Delia Commander used tribal government funds to pay for things like gambling and personal travel. Commander worked as tribal administrator of the Skagway Traditional Council between 2008 and 2014. Her unauthorized purchases were discovered when a new administrator took over. She was indicted by an Anchorage grand jury in May. In the plea agreement signed late last month, Commander admits to one of four embezzlement charges. In return for pleading guilty to embezzlement from an Indian tribal organization, the U.S. Attorney’s office will dismiss three charges of embezzling from an organization receiving federal funding. The two parties agree that Commander caused a loss of between $250,000 and $550,000. The Skagway Traditional Council receives the majority of its funding from the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. The council also gets project funding from the EPA. The plea deal says Commander misused more than $250,000 in tribal funds over a four-year period. She spent tribal money on school tuition, gambling, credit card debt and a trip to Hawaii with her daughter.

Gambling care home manager plundered £100k from frail 97-year-old resident and blew it on BING

A gambling care home manager plundered £100,00 from a frail 97-year-old resident’s account before before blowing it in BINGO halls. Heartless Carleen Wilkins used the woman’s card and pin to withdraw the maximum amount of cash from the victim’s account almost EVERY DAY since 2012. The ruthless 40-year-old even took the confused pensioner to Lloyds bank in Handsworth to withdraw £4000 in cash, where her dishonesty finally came to light. The court heard the defendant “gambled away” the cash she stole at bingo halls and casinos. Wilkins, of Overdale Road, Quinton, who had previously admitted theft, was sentenced to 31 months at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday. “She was described by her employer as someone who could be trusted, “ said Amrisha Parathalingam, prosecuting. Christian Wasunna, defending, said Wilkins had already been gambling before she started her employment and she had hoped to pay back the money she had taken through winnings.

Ex-banker gets 5-year sentence for stealing customers’ money

A former assistant manager at a central Indiana bank has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from depositors’ accounts. Sixty-five-year-old Diane Renee Bizzell said during Monday’s sentencing that she stole the money from customers at a First Merchants Bank in Muncie after becoming addicted to playing the slot machines at the Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson. The Muncie woman pleaded guilty in August to seven counts of theft, six counts of identity deception and one count of check fraud. The Star Press reports a First Merchants official told the Delaware County judge that the cost to the bank and its insurance company exceeded $470,000 in replenishing the victims’ accounts and conducting an investigation of Bizzell’s actions.

Waitress charged with swiping $470K from elderly woman

A Brooklyn waitress who played nice with an elderly widow — to siphon off nearly half a million bucks from the 84-year-old’s bank account — has been indicted, authorities said Tuesday. Alicia Legall was charged with grand larceny and identity theft for pocketing $470,000 from the victim — dough she blew at the racetracks and casino and on lingerie, according to the Brooklyn DA’s office. Legall, 46, first met her victim at the diner where the waitress worked in 2002, authorities said. She then spent years gaining access to the woman’s personal information, including her birthday, address, Social Security number and banking and credit card information, officials said. The widow, thinking the pair were friends, gave Legall permission to use her card to make small purchases for her at an area drug store, authorities said. Instead, Legall allegedly charged $73,399 in cash advances and $204,390 in purchases — dropping money at Apple, JetBlue, Victoria’s Secret, New York Racing Authority’s buffets and bars, the Belmont Racetrack, Harrah’s in Atlantic City and hotels, clubs and restaurants across Florida.

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A Brief Look at Crime 10/30 – 11/05

Winter Haven woman who stole $1.8 Million from stepfather to be resentenced to prison

Wanda Imber, who was sentenced to house arrest in May 2016 after a jury found her guilty of stealing about $1.8 million from her elderly stepfather, is about to lose her freedom. An appellate court has ruled that Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance erred when he departed from state sentencing guidelines and sentenced her to community control, sidestepping prison. The 2nd District Court of Appeal has ordered that she be given a guidelines sentence, which calls for a minimum 25 years in state prison. Court testimony showed she’d written 466 checks, totaling $1.76 million, to herself from Adams’ personal checking account between 2007 and 2014. The missing funds came to light in 2014 when Adams’ son, Alan, discovered irregularities in the account of Landmark Investments, a family-owned business in Winter Haven, triggering audits of his father’s financial accounts. During her trial, prosecutors said she had spent more than $1 million on credit cards and at least $500,000 more gambling.

Woman who stole from elderly goes to prison

With documented losses well into the six figures, Illinois State Police continue to investigate a theft case that already has resulted in a prison sentence. Coliene Moore, 69, was hit with a restitution order exceeding $636,000 when Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Belz sentenced her last month to four years for stealing from her elderly aunt. Ruth Lanier, now deceased, was 85 when Moore stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from her during a three-month period that ended in February of 2012. Authorities say that Moore also stole nearly $82,000 from her mother, Mary Catherine Dormire, who was in her 90s when her daughter, her mother’s caretaker, raided bank accounts. Dormire is now deceased. “Make no mistake, this is a callous, cold, calculating elder abuse crime spree,” Belz said when he sentenced Moore on Aug. 15. “Money was taken in astronomical, almost unbelievable amounts from people who didn’t deserve it.” Moore’s husband filed for divorce on Sept. 13, telling the court that he had no idea that his wife was in legal trouble or had stolen money until she was arrested at Memorial Medical Center in August, two days after going to the hospital with complaints of a blood clot instead of going to court, where she was due to be sentenced. The no-show prompted Judge Belz to issue an arrest warrant. In his divorce petition, Jeffrey Moore says he believes that his wife might have a gambling problem.

Ignoring order, gambling ship rode out Hurricane Irma docked at Port Canaveral

The U.S. Coast Guard plans to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Victory I gambling ship remaining in Port Canaveral during Hurricane Irma, despite an order for the ship to leave the port in advance of the storm. Port Canaveral closed before the storm, and there was an order in effect that ships such as the Victory I were supposed be out of the port. Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray said most owners made sure their vessels either left the area or were stored on land, as required during Hurricane Irma. But some didn’t. Murray said the Victory I gambling ship and 14 smaller recreational boats remained in the port’s waters during the storm. Murray said having the gambling ship in port during Irma “could have caused catastrophic damage” at the port if it had managed to break free. “Neither the port nor the Coast Guard wanted that boat in port” during Irma, Murray said.

B.C. casinos are used to launder millions in drug cash

In late August, at a Vancouver conference attended by U.S. and Canadian law enforcement officials, RCMP Insp. Bruce Ward outlined the details of E-Pirate, the investigation into Silver International, Asian organized crime groups, and an alleged $500-million-plus international money laundering service run from Richmond. Central to the money laundering probe, allege B.C. government documents, is suspect Paul King Jin, a 50-year-old Richmond spa owner. BCLC and B.C. gaming policy enforcement branch documents say that information revealed by the RCMP’s investigation into Jin and Silver led them to suspect the funds are tied to “transnational drug trafficking … (that) could have a potentially devastating impact on the casino industry.”

Jin allegedly helped ultra-wealthy Mainland China “whale” gamblers, recruited in Macau, to gamble in B.C., the investigation documents allege. The Macau whales were able to gamble with suspected drug cash supplied by Jin’s network, especially at River Rock Casino, the investigation documents allege. With those funds borrowed from Jin and “private lenders,” they were not only able to gamble, but to develop real estate in B.C. Without naming names, a paragraph in the confidential MNP LLP audit of B.C. Lottery Corp. that the attorney general released last week describes underground banking channels that allowed “Chinese nationals” to evade China’s tight capital controls and transfer wealth into B.C. Investigators learned the Chinese whale gamblers were “provided with a contact in Vancouver, either locally or prior to arriving in Vancouver,” the MNP report says. Next, the gamblers would “contact the person via phone for cash delivery,” which they use to buy chips at a casino. The gamblers would repay these funds “through cash holdings in China.” When the gamblers cash out, they are left with money available for use in Canada.

Local woman stole millions from business to gamble

A 65-year-old woman embezzled more than two million dollars and spent it gambling. Charlotte Pottorff pleaded guilty to two counts of felony embezzlement, one count of perjury and one count of felony tax evasion in Bonneville County court on Sept. 11. Pottorff began working as a bookkeeper for Val Erickson, the owner of Dura-Bilt, Dura-Bilt Transmission and A&D Investments, in 1999. According to court documents, Erickson suspects the embezzlement began when she started working for him. According to court documents, Pottorff covered her tracks by making purchases for the company at a higher price than the items’ actual cost. She would then issue herself a check for the difference. She would issue these checks directly to herself or to bank accounts believed to be hers. She was the only one who had control over issuing checks and balancing the business’ accounts. According to court documents, Erickson discovered the theft after Pottorff retired from working for him. Erickson hired Fraud Examiner Daniel Packard to conduct a forensic audit of his business accounts. According to court documents, Packard determined an approximate $2,325,504.89 was misappropriated between the years of 2006 to 2017.

RCMP casino money laundering probe uncovered alleged ‘terrorist financing’ links

An RCMP investigation into underground banking and alleged laundering of drug cash in B.C. casinos revealed suspicions of “terrorist financing,” a B.C. government document obtained by Postmedia alleges. The suspected “terrorist financing” link is alleged in a confidential “Section 86” report filed in July 2015 by B.C. Lottery Corp. to B.C.’s gaming enforcement branch, which is an arm of B.C.’s Ministry of Finance. This report, which was filed to the gaming enforcement branch’s director of compliance, Len Meilleur, says that Meilleur had also spoken to the RCMP’s Chrustie about “troubling information … involving casinos.” “As a result of that conversation (gaming enforcement branch assistant deputy minister) John Mazure had been briefed and that likely (then-B.C. finance minister) Mike de Jong would also be briefed,” the report says. B.C. Lottery Corp. was asked to respond to details in the July 2015 Section 86 report. “Regarding your request for comment related to the Section 86 report, it is public knowledge that there are at least two active police investigations underway related to allegations of illegal gambling and money laundering,” a BCLC spokesman said in an email. “Since these investigations are underway, we are not in a position to provide comment.”

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