Category Archives: Crime

A Brief Look at Crime 01/13 – 01/19

Bookkeeper who stole $300K from employer gets a year in prison

A former bookkeeper for a marine towing and transportation company based on Bainbridge Island was sentenced last week to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to stealing about $300,000 to fuel her gambling addiction. Employees of Star Marine wrote in Kitsap County Superior Court documents that the damage done by Tonya Jeanette Hunt, 40, of Poulsbo, not only hurt the company but amounted to a personal betrayal to people who had trusted her. The embezzlement was first discovered in November 2018 when the company’s bank called an employee to notify him some checks written from the company’s account were not going to clear. Hunt confessed at that time that she had been stealing and adjusting the company’s financial software to hide the missing money, according to court documents. Hunt turned over a spreadsheet that documented the money she had stolen, which found to be more than $290,000. When interviewed by a Bainbridge Island police investigators, Hunt said she used the money to fund her gambling addiction. Hunt worked for the company for about 2 ½ years.

Former Citizens National Bank officer serving federal sentence for theft

A former bank officer at Citizens National Bank in Brownwood who admitted to embezzling just under $1.86 million is serving a 51-month federal sentence, court documents from U.S. District Court in San Angelo Show. Dawn Bennett, 44, of Bangs, admitted to gambling with embezzled funds at Oklahoma casinos and was ordered to pay $1,859,915 in restitution, court documents state. Bennett was sentenced on Oct. 4 by U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman. Bennett pleaded guilty on May 30 to engaging in a monetary transaction with property derived from a specified unlawful activity, court documents state. The guilty plea stemmed from Bennett’s visit on July 12, 2018 to the WinStar Casino, an Indian gaming operation, where she inserted $58,185 in slot machines, court documents state. Bennett “admits and agrees that each bet at the WinStar Casino” on that date was made with funds she embezzled from Citizens National Bank and concealed through false entries in the books, court documents state.

Hawaiian Gardens casino to pay California $3.15 million, admits misleading regulators

The Gardens Casino, a card room that underpins the one-square-mile city of Hawaiian Gardens, has agreed to pay $3.15 million to settle allegations brought by the California attorney general’s office that the casino’s operators made no mention of a federal probe and resultant $2.8-million penalty when applying to renew its license. California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s deputies had asked state regulators to revoke licenses for the casino and its owners, alleging that in September 2016 its operators falsely told state gambling authorities they have “always been engaged in honest and frank dialogue with regulators.” Casino operators neglected to mention that two months earlier, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, had handed the casino a $2.8-million penalty for violating the Bank Secrecy Act, a federal law meant to counteract money laundering, a deputy attorney general wrote. FinCEN is a federal agency within the Treasury Department that monitors for money laundering and other financial crimes. In exchange for keeping their licenses, the casino’s owners — ChernaMoskowitz, wife of the card room’s late founder, Irving Moskowitz, and Irving’s son, David — agreed to pay a $3.15-million penalty and complete a two-year compliance period. The state gambling commission approved the settlement Thursday.

New Jersey Online Gaming Operators Fined $153K Last Month for Regulatory Failures

New Jersey online gaming operators were fined by state regulators more than $150,000 last month for compliance shortcomings. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) issued $153,500 in civil penalties for various regulatory infractions on behalf of the licensed interactive companies. NYX Digital Gaming (USA) and NYX Digital Gaming (Americas) – entities controlled by parent SG Digital, a global online gaming, sports, and lottery provider – were hit with the bulk of the penalties. The companies were issued a $100,000 fine for operating unapproved software in the state. DGE Director David Rebuck said in the order that the company deployed “versions of three games that were not the versions tested and approved by the Division.” In a separate order, Rebuck said there was “sufficient and legal support” to additionally penalize the two NYX Digital companies $10,000 for their compliance deficiencies.

Ex-Casino Dealer Gets Prison for Role in Cheating Plot 

A man who worked as a baccarat dealer at a Maryland casino has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in a scheme to cheat the house out of just over $1 million, according to prosecutors. U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm also on Wednesday sentenced Ming Zhang, 32, of Alexandria, Virginia, to three years of supervised release after his prison term and ordered him to pay full restitution, U.S. Attorney Robert Hur’s office said in a news release. Zhang had faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison after he pleaded guilty in September 2018 to one count of conspiring to transport stolen funds. Zhang worked for MGM National Harbor near Washington, D.C. Zhang’s role in the plot to cheat the casino was to notify an alleged co-conspirator when he was scheduled to deal baccarat. When that person arrived at his table in September 2017, Zhang exposed part of a baccarat deck to the player, who photographed the unshuffled cards before placing large bets on hands, a court filing said. Knowing the order of cards in a deck allows bettors to predict the outcome of baccarat hands with near-perfect accuracy.

Former casino director of benefits accused of stealing $75K in gift cards

The former director of benefits for Penn National Gaming is facing charges after authorities say she stole and used more than $75,000 worth of gift cards intended for the company’s employees. According to a news release from the Berks County district attorney’s office, Denise M. Bitler, 56, of Collegeville is facing charges that include theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received, theft by unlawful taking or disposition, theft by deception, access device fraud, unlawful use of a computer and receiving stolen property. Bitler was responsible for ordering, maintaining and distributing the gift cards to the human resource officer at the company’s casinos and racetracks, who would then distribute them to employees. Detectives learned Bitler used many of the gift cards for personal use on vacations and for medical bills and retail purchases. Further, detectives say, she defrauded the company out of another $1,200 per year for two years by saying in medical enrollment forms that she and her family members were nonsmokers when they were actually smokers, avoiding a $50 per month, per person charge.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 01/06 – 01/12

Ballet School Worker Stole $800,000 to Fund Gambling Addiction

A woman who was looking after the finances and accounts of a leading ballet school in Washington, D.C. stole almost $800,000 to fund her gambling addiction. Sophia Kim (Sookyeong Kim Sebold) allegedly defrauded the Kirov Academy, founded by Reverend Sun Myung Moon in 1990, by using her position as the school’s comptroller. According to an FBI affidavit, Kim stole money due to “a gambling addiction and other financial problems.” Kim admitted her use of school credit and debit cards to steal money. She also made cash withdrawals from the company’s BB&T bank account. She also wrote 68 unauthorized checks to herself or for “cash”, the value of which ranged between $500 and $12,000. The checks only contained Kim’s signature and did not have supporting documentation. The total sum stolen in this manner was $377,200. Similar incidents of gambling addicts stealing from employers and family members to feed their habit are reported to happen worldwide. According to a VSO News report earlier this month, a 53-year-old bookkeeper for a luxury cruise company in Australia stole $2.55m from her employer for gambling purposes over the course of six years. This week, 32Red paid back almost £600,00 ($775,000) to a firm in Belfast, Northern Ireland after an employee stole company funds to gamble on the site.

Livestock broker with ‘extensive, reckless’ gambling habit sentenced for fraud

An Indiana livestock broker who defrauded customers and used their money to feed his gambling habit has been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $750,000 to his victims. Brian D. Jones, 40, of Vevay operated a business buying calves from dairy farms in Wisconsin and selling them to ranches in Missouri and Texas, according to court documents. Prosecutors said he used the money from this business to feed an “extensive, reckless gambling” habit. “From the government’s position, Jones turned to soliciting investments and defrauding investors to obtain funds for his mounting debts and gambling activity,” prosecutors wrote in documents. Jones solicited his victims for funds under the premise he was expanding his business, but that money went to gambling or paying down other debts, prosecutors said. They also said he produced “bogus” bank receipts allay fears of his investors.

Drunken driver who slammed car into man in AC casino garage fight gets 14 years in prison

A Newark man convicted in a drunken New Year’s Day dispute in a parking garage for an Atlantic City casino in which he slammed his car into another man, crushing his legs, has been sentenced to 14 years in state prison, authorities said Monday. Michael Garland, 46, was convicted at trial of aggravated assault and endangering an injured victim after claiming he acted in self-defense, according to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. The dispute unfolded just before 1:30 a.m. on the fourth-floor of the Golden Nugget Casino, Hotel & Marina, authorities said. The younger man reached into a car and threw a punch at Garland, who was seated in the vehicle, authorities said. When police arrived, they found the victim next to the front of the vehicle, which had heavy front-end damage. He was taken to a local hospital to be treated for two broken legs. He must serve at least nine years in state prison before he is eligible for parole.

Dad’s addiction left family in £500,000 debt – but they didn’t know until he was jailed

The family of a respected accountant was torn apart after his secret gambling addiction left them half-a-million in debt. David Bradford, 63, ran up debts of £500,000 as he sank deeper into his online gambling and fruit machine habit. Father-of-three David turned to crime in a bid to cover his losses and stole £53,000 from his employers to help balance the books. And when his fraud came to light he tried to hide it from his family -but was charged and jailed for two years. Now – with the help of his son Adam – David has turned his life around and the two have spearheaded a campaign to help clean up the industry. The father and son’s work has led to a decrease in the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 and an increase in NHS provision for gambling addicts. The Sheffield-based family’s story is told tomorrow night in the documentary ‘Robbing Your Relatives’ on Channel 5. Over 430,000 people are thought to be addicted to gambling in the UK.

Two nuns admit embezzling cash for Vegas gambling trips

Two nuns who worked at a Catholic school in California have admitted embezzling about $500,000 (£396,000) and using it to gamble in Las Vegas. Sisters Mary Kreuper and Lana Chang took the money from St James‘ Catholic School in the city of Torrance, near Los Angeles, to spend in Casinos. The pair, who are said to be best friends, took funds from an account holding tuition fees and donations. The sisters, who recently retired, have expressed remorse for their actions. Mary Kreuper was the school principal for 29 years, while Lana Chang worked as a teacher for about 20 years. They are thought to have stolen the money over a period of at least a decade to spend on travel and gambling. “Our community is concerned and saddened by this situation and regret any injury to our long relationship with the families of the school,” it added.

Former Hollywood exec pleads in $22M embezzlement

A former executive at a Hollywood digital marketing company has pleaded guilty to federal charges for embezzling $22 million from his employer. Prosecutors say Dennis Blieden of Cincinnati used the money for personal expenses, including $150,000 buy-ins to enter two professional poker Tournaments. Blieden pleaded guilty Friday to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Blieden was a vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul, which relocated this year to London. It represents “influencers” on YouTube and Instagram. Prosecutors say Blieden controlled the firm’s finances and transferred money to his personal bank accounts, using it to pay off credit cards and invest in crypto-currency for online gambling. He recorded the transactions as payments to StyleHaul clients. He also forged an executive’s signature. Blieden could face two decades in federal prison.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/30 – 01/05

California casino manager busted for $200,000 embezzlement

A floor manager at the Red Hawk Tribal Casino in Placerville, California has been busted for leading a scam that ultimately saw the gambling house lose over $200,000. Prak Pich used his position to give lines of credits to a gambler, Luc Mooc, and then altered the paper trails of the credits to make it appear that they had been paid back. That would never have been possible with blockchain record-keeping. The California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, released a statement about the ordeal, explaining, These short term, no-interest credit lines are commonly extended by casinos to allow approved patrons easy access to gambling funds, with the understanding that the temporary loan would be repaid within a short period of time. However, instead of paying back the loans, Mooc and Pich allegedly conspired to steal the funds that would range anywhere from $12,000 to $14,000 at a time.” There have been plenty of instances in the past of casino employees getting a little too creative with their duties, but almost invariably they are caught. Casinos have been around long enough to know the tricks and it isn’t difficult to figure out when something is not quite right.

Mom arrested for leaving kids in car at Detroit casino 

A 27-year-old Detroit woman was arrested over the weekend for leaving her two young children in a car while she was in a casino. The woman was taken into custody at about 12:20 a.m. Sunday at the MGM Grand Detroit‘s parking garage, said Jennifer Watson, a Detroit Police Department spokeswoman. The woman is accused of leaving her 2-year-old boy and 4-month-old girl locked inside her 2015 Chevrolet Equinox while she was in the casino, Watson said. Police said a casino patron saw the children in the car and notified the casino‘s security. Security officers called Detroit Police and officers arrested the woman as she returned to the vehicle. Watson said the woman was inside the casino for at least one hour. Watson said she was arrested for child abandonment. Under state law, the crime is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If convicted of abandonment, the state could also terminate a person‘s parental rights.

Woman leaves 4-year-old girl in Wind Creek hotel room to gamble

A New Jersey woman is accused of leaving a 4-year-old girl alone in a hotel room to gamble at the Wind Creek Casino in Bethlehem. Police were called at 4 a.m. Saturday for the little girl wandering alone in the casino’s hotel lobby. Police found a bystander with the little girl, and he told police he found the girl alone in the lobby. The girl told officers she was looking for Rebecca Yandoli. The 26-year-old Yandoli was found on the main floor of the casino, gambling, police said. Yandoli reportedly told officers she left the girl alone in the hotel room at about 1:15 a.m., and then went to gamble. Yandoli, who lives in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, was arrested and charged with child endangerment. She was sent to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Report: Woman left baby alone in car while gambling 

A woman has been arrested, accused of leaving a baby inside a car while she went gambling at a video arcade, deputies say. It was a losing wager, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and if it weren’t for another person who stepped in, it’s unclear how long that baby would have been out there alone. At a gaming business called Treasures of Hope, deputies say one woman hoped to earn enough treasure to pay her bills. Instead, Michelle Puma was thrown behind bars, accused of leaving a one-year-old in her car while she gambled inside. “She thought that she could go in there and win money while the child slept the whole time. It’s really hard to fathom. It’s unimaginable, really,” said Lt. John Herrell, spokesman for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies say another woman was heading inside the online gaming lounge on State Road 19 in Umatilla when she heard a child crying. She eventually found a baby in a car. According to an arrest report, she stayed with the baby for about 20 minutes, took it out “to console her” and called teh cops.

Alabama Man Charged With Leaving Child in Cold Car at Casino

An Alabama man accused of leaving a 6-year-old girl in a cold car in a casino parking lot has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child, nearly four years after the crime was reported in February 2016. Zachary Hines was served a warrant for the misdemeanor charge on Wednesday, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. Police documents from the time allege that on Valentine’s Day 2016, Hines arrived for work at the Wind Creek Casino just after midnight with the girl in the car. The now 26-year-old left the car unlocked and went inside, according to court records. Historic temperature data shows it was about 34 degrees that night. A Poarch Creek tribal police officer was notified by a casino patron there was a child inside a car crying. The officer put the shivering girl in a patrol vehicle to warm her up, an arrest warrant Documented. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office received the warrant three days after it was signed on Feb. 19, 2016, records show, but it wasn’t served until Wednesday. It’s unclear what caused the nearly 4-year delay.

Pair Arrested After 7-Year-Old Found Alone in Car at Florida Casino Garage

A couple from Ecuador is facing charges in Broward County after authorities said they left a 7-year-old girl in a car while they were in the casino at the Seminole Hard Rock. Sintia Pinargote, 31, and Carlos Enrique Herrera Pluas, 32, were arrested Sunday by Seminole Police on charges of child abuse without great bodily harm, Broward jail records showed. Pinargote and Pluas appeared in court Monday, where prosecutors said the girl was found in a car inside the casino’s garage around 12:30 a.m. Prosecutors said Pinargote said she had gone inside to pick up Pluas, her boyfriend, but surveillance cameras showed her arriving at the casino with Pluas around midnight. A Seminole Police spokesperson said the girl was left unattended in the car for about an hour. “Seminole Police and Casino Security officers follow a zero tolerance policy for children left alone in vehicles at Seminole Casinos,” the spokesperson said in a statement. The couple and Pinargote’s daughter were visiting from Ecuador for a Disney World trip and a cruise. The girl’s father is Enner Valencia, a famous soccer player from Ecuador who currently lives in Mexico and plays for Tigres UANL. The Department of Children and Families took custody of the girl, and a judge said she’ll be placed in a foster home for the time being.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/23 – 12/29

78-Year-Old Man Shot, Killed At West Philadelphia Illegal Lottery Hall During Robbery

A 78-year-old man was shot and killed Thursday afternoon during a robbery at what police are calling an illegal lottery hall. The crime scene unit is trying to piece together what happened in West Philadelphia on Wednesday. Police haven’t identified the man yet, and therefore neither is Eyewitness News, but his nephew says he was a peacemaker. “Who would hurt him? Who would do that?” the victim’s nephew, AlfonzoConnor, said. Police say the building where the man was killed was an illegal gamblinghall. They say they’ve raided the place recently. The victim’s nephew says his uncle wasn’t a gambler. “I tell you what, if they did that they ain’t come to rob him. He ain’t have no money for nothing like that,” Connor said. Police responded just after noon. They say the man was found on the first floor of the building. It’s not clear if he was gambling. His nephew says whatever happened, he doesn’t believe his uncle was the intended target. “Wrong place at the wrong time probably. You know you can walk into somewhere and something is happening, you might try to intervene probably to try to stop it. That was his nature too, to keep the peace,” Connor said.

UK’s gambling firms spent a whooping £19.6m in penalties for failure to protect problem gamblers

The United Kingdom has been the largest betting market in the region for some time now. Unfortunately, this has come with a few consequences, including an increasing problem gamblers population. Unfortunately, gambling firms are dragging their feet on the matter resulting in a campaign from the gambling commission. The institution claimed it handled more than 160 investigations during the 2018 financial year. It imposed a number of sanctions on operators, including financial penalties. Betting companies will have to pay 19.6 million pounds in penalties for failing to protect the problem gamblers and stopping laundering operations. Major contributors to this penalty include Ladbrokes, Coral, William Hill Sky-bet, and Bet 365. Online casino firms like Daub Alderney and Fluffer entertainment also did not escape the net. The regulator’s second report on enforcement claimed companies are failing to detect clients at risk of becoming problem gamblers.

Trip to Casino Ended in Murder Caught on Camera: Miami-Dade Police 

man was caught on camera murdering another man after the two spent time at a South Florida casino, police said. Luciano Thompson, 22, was arrested Thursday on a second-degree murder charge in the killing of 24-year-old Eduardo Gonzalez, according to a Miami-Dade Police arrest report. The report said Thompson and Gonzalez had gone together to the Hialeah Park Casino early Wednesday morning and were seen in video footage leaving around 1:44 a.m. Minutes later, surveillance footage near the 10200 block of Northwest 26th Avenue showed Thompson shoot Gonzalez in the head, the report said. Gonzalez later died from his injuries. The report said a gun that was later found at Thompson’s home matched the bullet casing found at the scene of the murder. Thompson was being held without bond Thursday, jail records showed. Attorney information wasn’t available.

Gold Rush Gaming Named in Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval Federal Corruption Probe

When federal agents raided the home and offices of Illinois StateSenator Martin Sandoval (D-12th) last month, among their targets were documents related to local gaming operator Gold Rush Gaming, according to a search and seizure warrant published Friday. Also on their radar were powerful players in Illinois’ construction, transportation, and energy sectors, as well as influential lobbyists and at least three suburban mayors, according to the unredacted 12-page As chairman of the powerful Senate Transportation Committee — a role from which he resigned Friday — Sandoval was instrumental in planning and implementing Governor J.B. Pritzker’s ambitious capital plan  that earmarked $45 billion for investment in infrastructure and state facilities over six years. Dubbed “Rebuild Illinois,” the plan also expanded gambling on an unprecedented level in the state, paving the way for a major casino in Chicago, as well as five smaller regional casinos in the southern suburbs. It has also increased the number of video gambling machines, as well as the maximum bet on the machines. Gold Rush Gaming bills itself as Illinois’ “premier terminal operator,” and has placed thousands of video-gaming terminals (VGTs) in bars, restaurants and slots parlors across the state. Gold Rush Gaming owner Rick Heidner is also involved in a venture called Playing in the Park LLC, which has applied to build a harness racing track and casino at Tinley Park in Chicago’s southern suburbs as part of the recent gaming expansion. The project received a racing license on September 24 from the Illinois Racing Board, which was coincidentally the day of the Sandoval raids. Heidner, a minor contributor to Governor Pritzker’s campaign, has yet to apply to the Gaming Board for a casino license.

Game room manager killed in Cloverleaf; police searching for masked shooters 

Deputies are searching for two masked gunmen who shot and killed the manager of a game room in Cloverleaf late Monday night. Two masked men were hanging outside the game room in the 700 block of Barbara Mae Boulevard around 10 p.m. when a woman, whose husband is the manager of the game room, walked outside and encountered the men. What transpired while the three were talking is unclear, but at some point, the woman’s husband went outside to check on her, according to Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. D. Wolfford. That’s when one of the men pulled a gun and shot the husband, Wolfford said. The two were last seen fleeing the business on foot. The manager was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Wolfford said. Detectives are hoping to recover surveillance video of the shooting to get a better description of the gunmen.

Woman who embezzled $1.3M from Fargo property management company sentenced to prison

A Pelican Rapids, Minn., woman who embezzled roughly $1.3 million from a Fargo property management company where she worked will spend more than three years in prison, a sentence that was harsher than what prosecutors recommended. Federal Judge Peter Welte ordered 53-year-old Mickey Haarstad be taken immediately into custody on Tuesday, Nov. 12, to serve 37 months in prison for mail fraud and money laundering, but not before calling her behavior “diabolical.” “You said stealing is wrong,” the judge told Haarstad. “This isn’t stealing money. This is breaking trust. This is hurting people.” Chase called Haarstad’s theft “pure greed” and “predatory action.” He cited reports of previous thefts she admitted to at other companies, noting her embezzlement at Campbell Properties was “continuous, repeated, shameless theft.” “This is a lifestyle this defendant got used to and had to pay for it,” Chase said in recommending a 25-month sentence.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/16 – 12/22

Bribery charge against ex-state Rep. Luis Arroyo brings fresh scrutiny to sweepstakes machines, raises questions about potential for abuse as gambling expands

State lawmakers have worked over the past decade to bring various forms of gambling out of the shadows and onto the tax rolls, from legalizing video poker at bars and restaurants in 2009 to authorizing sports betting this spring. But the latest turn in a sprawling federal probe into public corruption from Chicago to Springfield has shined a light on a type of gambling that has flourished in a gray area of the law. Chicago Democrat Luis Arroyo, who resigned from the Illinois House on Friday after being charged with bribery Monday, is alleged to have offered kickbacks to an unnamed senator in exchange for the veteran lawmaker’s support for legislation that would regulate and tax so-called sweepstakes machines. The allegations laid out in the criminal complaint against Arroyo evoke some of the worst fears about the potential for abuse as the state moves forward with a massive expansion lawmakers approved this spring that includes six new casinos, slot machines and table games at horse tracks, and more video gambling terminals.

Sports Bettor Who Sent Players Social Media Death Threats Sentenced to Prison

A former sports bettor who was attending college in Massachusetts will spend the next 18 months in prison for threatening at least 45 professional and collegiate athletes between July and December 2017. Addison Choi, now 23-years-old, pleaded guilty in May to sending death threats to the athletes via Instagram posts. At the time, Choi was a student and a member of the Babson College soccer team in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Prosecutors called Choi a “prolific” sports bettor who needed to borrow money from family and friends to pay off his gambling debts. The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts redacted the specific names of the players he threatened, but didn’t hold back on sharing what Choi said in the messages. On July 27, 2017, Choi posted on one professional athlete’s Instagram, “I will kill you and your family and f****** hang them on a tree you stupid ugly mother*****.” He added, “I hope you f****** die you stupid monkey n*****.” Another post to a separate athlete read, “I’ll find your f****** family and skin them alive you stupid f***, I hope you never play again.” Prosecutors didn’t say what illicit avenue Choi used to place his sports bets. The gambling activity remains illegal in Massachusetts.

Hallglen drugs mule jailed after found on M6 with £180,000 haul 

Because Nairns appeared “anxious and nervous”, his Ford Focus was searched and this revealed a cardboard box in the boot which was “stuffed full” of illegal drugs. These comprised two packages containing 560g of high purity, uncut class A cocaine potentially worth up to £56,000 on the street; around 12kg of class B amphetamine in six large packages potentially worth £120,000; and almost 200g of cannabis in two bags which could have been worth around £1,260. A personal use amount of cannabis was recovered from a Kinder egg container. “The defendant was obviously arrested and interviewed,” prosecutor Charles Brown told Carlisle Crown Court. “He gave a prepared statement in his interview and elaborated slightly on it. He went from Falkirk to Liverpool to collect the packages. “He had been approached by someone who promised that his gambling debt would be written off, if he performed the courier role and brought the drugs back. He stated he knew what he was doing and did it on his own for that motive.”

NHL Player Sued by Las Vegas Casino for $500,000

Evander Kane, the San Jose Sharks forward, is facing a $500,000 lawsuit from the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The casino claims the NHL player did not pay the debts he owed it after using gambling markers at the facility. The lawsuit was filed in the Clark County District Court on Monday. It alleges that eight gambling markers were used by Kane in and around April 15, 2019. The size of these markers ranges from $20,000 to $100,000. Markers are used in casinos by high-stakes players instead of them carrying around large sums of cash. The casino facility provides markers on credit, and these are to be paid back through methods like wire transfer. Kane’s casino visit occurred at the same time that the San Jose Sharks were in Las Vegas to play the Vegas Golden Knights, as part of the first round of the Stanley Cup play-off series. The Knights were victorious in controversial fashion after seven games in the series. Kane was also arrested in 2016 for allegedly grabbing three women by their necks and hair during different altercations in Buffalo. The charges were subsequently dropped on condition that Kane would not get into trouble again. The prosecutor on the case deemed his alleged behavior “arrogant, boorish and surly, but not criminal.”

1 killed, 3 injured in shootout at illegal gambling business in Sumter

A shootout at a home with illegal gambling and alcohol sales in Sumter left one person dead and several others injured. Officers said two men they consider suspects — Florentino Wilson and another man who has not been identified — spent time at the house on Thursday earlier in the night. When they went back to the home around 11:30, police said they were armed, and that prompted a shootout between them and several other patrons of the illegal business. Wilson was killed. Emergency crews rushed him to the hospital but he could not be saved. Police said he was 57-years-old and from Sumter.

Former disability advocate volunteer indicted on charges of exploitation of disabled individual

A Whitehouse woman has been indicted in connection with exploiting amentally disabled couple to fund gambling activities. This same womanwas formerly involved with a volunteer group whose stated purpose was to empower adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Kristi Deshay Perryman, 43, was indicted Oct. 3 by a Smith County grand jury on two charges of exploitation of a child, elderly or disabledindividual, which is a third degree felony. She was arrested and released on July 9, according to jail records. Annessa Lewis, Texas Advocates executive director, said the Tyler Rose Advocates’ membership voted Perryman out as an adviser soon after her arrest. Texas Advocates is the state organization that provides support to local chapters such as the Tyler one when needed, but the area advocates run the group. An arrest warrant affidavit alleges that Perryman intentionally or knowingly caused the exploitation of the disabled individuals by withdrawing funds from the victims’ bank account for gambling and leaving insufficient funds for their expenses.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 12/09 – 12/15

Former Local McDonald’s General Manager Allegedly Steals $241,000 To Support Gambling Addiction

A former general manager of a local McDonald’s is accused of stealing $241,000 from the fast-food restaurant and gambling the stolen funds. According to a criminal complaint, detectives say Charles “Chuck” Hobi was the only person at a Wilkinsburg McDonald’s who had access to the restaurant’s safe. As general manager, Hobi was also responsible for making all deposits. The criminal complaint says between October of 2018 and January of 2019, Hobi stole $241,000 in funds. The owner told police he discovered that money was missing when he was reviewing bank records from his McDonald’s business account. When confronted by the owner, detectives say Hobi didn’t deny the allegations. Instead, police claim Hobi said he “gambled it away.” After this alleged confession, Hobi was fired.

Macau Casino Fined $1.25M Money Laundering, Loan Shark Activities

A card room operator in Tukwila, Washington, Macau Casino, received a $1.25m penalty for money laundering and loan shark activities from the Gambling Commission. The penalties were issued after an investigation was conducted with the Washington State Gambling Commission finding one of Macau Casinos employees participating in money laundering activities by bringing big bags of $20 bills to the casino and distributing them to ‘players’ while the ‘players’ would gamble and cashout with $100 bills. The employee was arrested and charged with money laundering, unlawful debt and extortionate of money. The Gambling Commission banned the two owners of the casino from participating in gambling activities in the future and revoked gaming licenses from seven different employees and four license revocations are pending. The investigation started back in 2016 after allegations of loan shark activities were taking place with employees loaning cash and chips at an “exorbitant interest rates”. The Gambling Commission said the penalties issued sends a strong message to let all those involved in the investigation and the industry that the necessary steps will be taken to keep criminal activities out of gambling facilities.

Ontario Priest Who Gambled Away $1 Million Meant for Refugees Imprisoned 

Catholic priest has been jailed for two years for defrauding refugees of almost C$1 million ($760,000) to support a self-destructive gambling habit, Canada’s /Global News/ reports. Father Amer Saka, 61, formerly the priest of St. Joseph’s Chaldean in London, Ontario, was also ordered to pay restitution to 33 families from which he obtained the money under the guise of a sponsorship program to bring refugees to Canada. The court heard that because of Saka’s age and uncertain future employment prospects, the full amount is unlikely to ever be returned. The judge originally proposed giving Saka 45 years to repay the money, which meant he would have been 106 years old on his final installment. But prosecutors argued this was unreasonable and pressured for 15 years Instead. This will require Saka to come up with $62,433 a year for the next 15 years or face the prospect of another prison term.

Jennifer Dwyer pleads guilty to embezzling over $2 million from Lyndonville firm

Vermont Business Magazine* The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Jennifer Dwyer, 49, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, pled guilty today in federal court to one count of wire fraud involving the embezzlement of approximately $2.2 million over a ten-year period from her Lyndonville employer, Northeast Agriculture Sales, Inc (NEAG). U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss accepted Dwyer’s guilty plea and ordered her released pending sentencing. Sentencing is scheduled for February 11, 2020. By pleading guilty, Dwyer admitted that between 2007 and 2017, she embezzled approximately $2,221,079.47 from NEAG through unauthorized electronic transfers of funds from NEAG’s payroll account to her personal checking account. Dwyer used the misappropriated funds on on-line gambling and to pay personal debts and expenses.

Missouri fentanyl dealer left client dying of overdose in casino before ODing in another

A Missouri fentanyl dealer was found overdosing in the bathroom of a casino right after leaving a client, who was fatally overdosing in another casino, prosecutors said Monday. The allegations were read in a court hearing Monday for Gerald E. Cardwell, 48, who was arrested last week on charges of distributing drugs with death resulting, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. According to charging documents, surveillance video shows Cardwell driving his client’s car and leading him to a hotel room at the Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights. Police said Cardwell told a maid not to disturb his friend before he checked out and went to the Ameristar Casino, about five miles away. Since Cardwell had checked out, the maid tried to wake the man, but couldn’t and called security. Maryland Heights Police Det. Kendra House wrote in an affidavit that the man had been dead for hours of fentanyl and alcohol intoxication. Cardwell later overdosed in the bathroom of the Ameristar Casino, where he was found with capsules of the drug at this feet, House said.

PGCB Levies $120,000 in Fines for Gambling Failures

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has recently issued a whopping $120,000 in fines as part of its regulatory efforts. These fines were issued against two of the Keystone State’s licensed gambling operators who had let their guard down and allowed for some regulatory failures to occur at their facilities. Before issuing the fines, the gaming control board’s Office of Enforcement Counsel met with the two casino operators in what they referred to as a meeting of consent agreements. It was during this meeting that Board approvals were issued and the fines against Downs Racing, L.P., and Washington Trotting Association, LLC, the two casinos, were levied. This Pennsylvanian gaming operator is going to pay that largest share of the total fines recently issued by the gaming control board. It will be parting with *a whopping $110,000*. The casino was found to have violated state gaming laws on four separate occasions by allowing individuals who were under the legal gambling age of 21 to place bets on its floors. The remaining *$10,000 fine* was levied against the operator of the Washington-based Meadows Racetrack and Casino. As reported by the gaming regulator, the Washington Trotting Association violated the state’s gaming laws by issuing expired gambling licenses. 

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A Brief Look at Crime 12/02 – 12/08

Police Say Alabama Student Called in LSU, Florida Game Threat Due to a Gambling Bet   

A University of Alabama student is accused of calling in a threat at Louisiana State’s Tiger Stadium during the school’s Saturday night football game against the University of Florida. The Tuscaloosa News reports 19-year-old Connor Bruce Croll of Crozet, Virginia, was arrested by Tuscaloosa officers and jailed Sunday as a “fugitive from justice.” He faces unspecified charges in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Authorities didn’t immediately provide further detail about the nature of the threat or say whether Croll intended to carry it out. The newspaper didn’t say if Croll had a lawyer. WBRZ, Baton Rouge’s ABC affiliate, reports that Croll admitted to authorities that he wanted to stop the game because “his friend was on the verge of losing a large bet.”

Wichita Lawyer Who Stole From Elderly Client Sentenced 

A Wichita lawyer who stole more than $900,000 from an elderly client with dementia was sentenced to probation. The Wichita Eagle reports Toomey’s attorney, Steven Mank, told the court Toomey was entitled to the money because of a gift memo drafted by the 104-year-old client. Prosecutors say Toomey spent nearly $962,000 from the woman’s bank accounts, including for a gambling addiction. Under his sentence, Toomey was ordered to be evaluated for a gambling addiction and follow the recommended treatment. Prosecutors alleged Toomey stole from the women for seven years, while she was living in a Wichita nursing home.

Steelers’ Anthony Chickillo pushed Olympian girlfriend Alysha Newman in casino fight

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Anthony Chickillo was arrested after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend during an argument over gambling at a resort in southwestern Pennsylvania, court records show. Chickillo, a 26-year-old backup outside linebacker, was arrested early Sunday after state police responded to the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, where Chickillo and girlfriend Alysha Newman gave investigators differing versions of events leading up to the dispute, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Newman, according to a state police report, said she and Chickillo began arguing at the Lady Luck Casino inside the resort before returning to their room, where the disagreement continued and turned physical. Newman is a star pole vaulter who competed in the Olympics in 2016 and won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Chickillo said Newman hit him first, striking him in the head, leading the 6-foot-3, 255-pound linebacker to push her to the floor. Newman, inturn, claimed that Chickillo grabbed her “by the biceps and forced her against a wall and door” at the hotel, leaving her with visible injuries. That prompted Newman to punch Chickillo in the head and he responded by throwing her to the floor, she told police.

Kansas City man sentenced to 91 years for shooting trooper during casino confrontation

A 39-year-old Kansas City man was sentenced to 91 years in prison for shooting a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper in the leg during a confrontation at a casino. Ronald Morris was sentenced Wednesday for shooting at Harrah’s Casino in North Kansas City. He pleaded guilty to assault on a law enforcement officer, armed criminal action and attempted assault on a law enforcement officer. Clay County Prosecutor Daniel White said in May 2016, casino security reported a man with a handsaw on the roof of a car. During a confrontation with a highway patrol corporal and another trooper, Morris became combative. At some point, Morris grabbed a pistol and shot the corporal in the leg. When Morris broke away, he was shot by the other trooper. The Kansas City Star reports Morris had a lengthy criminal record.

Londonderry admits defrauding £590,000 from employer to feed gambling addiction

 Londonderry woman has admitted six charges of fraud amounting to more than £590,000. [She] pleaded guilty to fraud by using her former employer’s credit cards to withdraw the money. The offences took place between January 2016 and April 2017. Londonderry Crown Court was told the defendant spent all of the money on the 32 Red internet gambling site. “She obtained all of the money through fraud and the money has all been lost to the gambling site,” a Public Prosecution Service barrister told the judge. A defence barrister said he wanted to engage the services of an accountant to determine the exact amount involved in the fraud. He also submitted a document to the judge from the Gambling Commission which, the barrister said, contained information directly linked to the Offending. The defendant has been released on bail.

Woman embezzled over £248,000 from Glasgow car dealership over brothers gambling debt

A woman who embezzled more than £248,000 from a car dealership blamed her brother’s gambling debt for her actions. Andrea Gibson, 31, stole the money over a three-year period while an accounts assistant for Evans Halshaw in Glasgow. The mother-of-one manipulated financial systems to cover 45 transactions made to her personal bank accounts. Gibson was only caught when she went on maternity leave and the irregularities came to light. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard she had worked for Evans Halshaw for seven years before her promotion to accounts assistant in 2014. She admitted embezzling a total of £248,652 from the dealership in Cumbernauld Road in the east end of Glasgow between March 2015 and March Gibson initially denied stealing money from the company but confessed after Ford UK carried out their own investigation. Ms Carroll added: “Gibson stated her brother had a gambling debt and didn’t know what to do. She made reference that she would return the money.

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