Category Archives: Crime

A Brief Look at Crime 12/20 – 12/26

Account stole 129K from Child Abuse Victims’ Center

A former accountant with Kids House of Seminole, a Children’s Advocacy Center in Sanford, was arrested Thursday after having fraudulently obtained $129,231.54 from the non-profit, according to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. Carrie Wagner, 61, is accused of using her exclusive access to the organization’s financial resources to knowingly and willingly acquire the money under false and fraudulent pretenses, according to her arrest report. Wagner would print forged payment checks that she would deposit or cash, she would wire herself money through Zelle and she would attempt to cover her tracks by manipulating financial data in QuickBooks, deputies said. According to the arrest report, Wagner turned herself in to law enforcement without incident. During the investigation, detectives said they learned Wagner intended to use the stolen money to gamble at the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa. “It shows the lengths Carrie went to with the intent to permanently deprive Kids House of Seminole, Inc, from $129,231.54 worth of their own funds,” the arrest report said.

Vicksburg man arrested for murdering wife at Riverwalk Casino

A Vicksburg man is in custody after shooting and killing his wife at Riverwalk Casino on Saturday morning. Vicksburg police responded to the scene around 7:00 a.m. Upon arrival, officers found Oceanna Lee-Hubbard, 28, lying in the parking garage suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The victim’s husband, Cedrick L. Hubbard, 26, was taken into custody in Clinton just before 12:00 p.m. Saturday. Hubbard will be held without bond until he makes his initial appearance in Vicksburg Municipal Court.

Illegal horse racing investigation in Walla Walla County continues, as many as six face potential felony charges 

An investigation into illegal horse racing in rural Walla Walla County is continuing, and as many as six people could face felony charges, the state Gambling Commission said Friday. Suspects’ names and the specific ranch location are not being made public, pending a charging decision by the Walla Walla County Prosecuting Attorney, a news release from the state agency said.

The investigation has been ongoing for over two years. Agents gathered information in October that a ranch near Burbank was allegedly being used for horse racing that included illegal wagering and other suspected illegal gambling on site, the release said. The Gambling Commission’s investigation into the illegal activity began in early January 2019 after a tip from another agency about alleged illegal horse racing and gambling at the location. An undercover special agent attended events to gather information for the search warrant that was served on site in October, the release said.

Woman Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison & Ordered to Pay $170k Following Mountain Bike Company Embezzlement

A woman has been sentenced to 28 months in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft after embezzling $150,000 from a high-end Seattle mountain bike company. An FBI investigation found that Trower used a variety of schemes to steal from company accounts including creating checks using the company software system, claiming expenses and compensation she did not earn, and making transfers from company accounts to accounts she controlled. At one point, Trower transferred more than $26,000 to her account in the span of just a few months in 2018. Trower and her boyfriend used the money to, among other things, gamble at area casinos. Alongside the wire fraud, Trower was also charged for aggravated identity theft after she forged the signature of company executives on fraudulent checks and submitted false invoices.

Woman shot after setting gambling machine on fire in NE Houston, police say

A woman has been hospitalized after being shot during a fight at a convenience store in northeast Houston. While the woman shot is expected to be OK, police said an argument between two women led to the shooting. The victim and second woman were inside a convenience store near some gambling machines. At one point, the victim pulled out lighter fluid and poured it on one of the machines. This led the women to begin arguing. The argument followed onto the parking lot and at some point, the second woman pulled out a gun and shot the victim. One of the women was taken to the hospital and the second woman is on the run. While the relationship between the women is unclear, police say they know each other.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/13 – 12/19

Rivers Casino Des Plaines Gambler Claims He Was Robbed After Winning $40K in Cash

A 34-year-old Arizona man claims that after visiting Rivers Casino Des Plaines in Illinois, two assailants robbed him at gunpoint and stole some $40,000 in cash that he had just won while gambling. The alleged victim, Cordero Supe, told police that a woman was chatting with him inside the Chicago suburb casino. He now believes that person might have been involved in the subsequent theft by tipping off the two men who confronted him. Supe says that after exiting the casino with roughly $40,000 in cash winnings at around 2:25 am on November 8, two men wearing bandanas covering their faces approached him in a dark-colored vehicle. They brandished firearms and demanded that he hand them the cash.

Orange County law enforcement officials cracking down on illegal game room activity

Law enforcement officials said our proximity to Louisiana, where gambling is legal, only adds to the confusion. According to Orange County officials, some of the owners of these game rooms make between $100,000 to $130,000 per day. Investigators said most of that money comes in illegally. Operators could end up “paying for playing” if their game rooms are illegal, officials said. “Time is on our side and their time is running out, so we’re going to eventually catch them,” said Orange County Constable Matt Ortego. Ortego calls it a cat and mouse game, one that’s expanding outside of the region. “It’s all across the state,” Ortego said. “It’s not just here in Orange County, you know, what they’re doing is they’re running and jumping in all these different counties that don’t have ordinances that are in place. Judge John Gothia said they eventually had to put their foot down. “For our county, it was getting out of hand and that’s why we implemented new restrictions that went into effect,” Gothia said. Orange County is following the lead of Jefferson County, which has new ordinances and ongoing enforcement.

Online casino could face legal action after sending promotional emails to recovering gambling addicts 

AN ONLINE casino that sent “distressing” promotional emails to recovering gambling addicts could face legal action, a law firm has said. Sky Vegas, owned by Flutter UK&I, apologised (sic) last week after emails were sent by mistake to people who had opted out of betting correspondence. Data breach specialist law firm PGMBM announced today that it was exploring the possibility of bringing legal proceedings on behalf of 120,000 who are believed to have been sent emails offering “free online spins.”

The firm’s legal director Tony Winterburn said: “This mistake could cost people their recovery from gambling. “These emails have already caused harm and distress to those who opted out of receiving gambling promotions for very good reason.” Clean Up Gambling director Matt Zarb-Cousin, who was among those who received the emails, said Sky Vegas’s actions were “inexcusable.” He said: “There is already too much temptation driven by the volume of advertising, so, when someone takes steps to keep themselves away from promotions like this, they should not be force-fed them again.”

Casinos made Macau one of the wealthiest places in the world — but they also brought heightened inequality and crime 

At 32 square kilometers, Macau is just 5% of Singapore’s size. It’s about half the size of Manhattan. Yet it has more than 35,000 hotel rooms, 30 Michelin-star restaurants, and 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And it clocks gaming revenues that are six times that of the Las Vegas Strip. With the casinos came a lot of money. Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal, and casinos have had a strong 20-year run. But the wealth rests in the hands of a few — and that, in turn, is at odds with the government’s “common prosperity” messaging. 

Wealth inequality isn’t the only issue in Macau. For one, there’s crime: According to a paper from  the Macao Institute for Tourism Studies, since the liberalization of casino licensing in 2002, crime has “increased drastically.” There are other social problems, such as a whole generation of young people dropping out of studies to work in the gaming industry because of its financial rewards, according to Robbert van der Mass, director of APAC Hospitality Services Macau. This in turn affects small retail shops and restaurants, many of which have disappeared as they couldn’t compete with salaries offered at casino resorts.

Former federal employee from Syracuse stole more than $100K in SSI benefits

A 34-year-old Syracuse man and former federal employee admitted Thursday to stealing more than $100,000 in Supplemental Security Income benefits, according to federal prosecutors. Sean Okrzesik pleaded guilty to theft of government property and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York. While Okrzesik was employed by the Syracuse office of the Social Security Administration, he opened bank accounts using the names and social security numbers of people who receive SSI benefits, according to federal prosecutors. Okrzesik used the money to pay for video gaming equipment, a custom suit, jewelry, airline tickets to the Caribbean and online gambling, according to prosecutors. In all, Okrzesik took $103,798.77 in benefits, prosecutors said.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/06 – 12/12

Girl, 8, molested outside Pa. casino as her relative gambled inside

A 65-year-old man is facing a felony charge after police say he admitted molesting an 8-year-old girl outside a Pa. casino as the girl’s relative gambled inside. It took years for the case to catch up with the accused suspect, Mateo Mejia, 65, of Scranton. The incident took place in the summer of 2016, when an un-named relative of the girl had Mejia drive the pair to the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino. Mejia was supposed to watch the girl in the car while the relative went inside and gambled. The relative was supposedly babysitting the child while her mother worked, police in Plains Township, Luzerne County, told the newspaper. 

Gambling company sued by customers who claim they were cheated out of big payouts

Fourteen gamblers are taking legal action against an online gambling company for allegedly refusing to pay them their full jackpot payouts, according to New Jersey regulators. In one federal lawsuit, filed by Lisa Piluso of Pennsylvania, the gambler claims the company did not pay a $100,000 jackpot she says she had won while playing a slots game on her phone. The company allegedly maintained there was “a bug” in the product. Thirteen other gamblers have claimed they were not given their correct earnings from the gambling company either, regulators said. The “Capital Gains” slot game, played by Piluso on Oct. 2 in 2020, was run on an online platform by Caesars Interactive New Jersey, and the game is manufactured by American Gaming Systems, based in Las Vegas. Piluso’s lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Camden, accuses the gaming company of consumer fraud and other wrongful actions related to the jackpot prize. Neither Caesars casino nor its online division were named as defendants in the suit.

Presque Isle Downs and Casino fined $45,000 for violating alcohol provision of COVID-19 order

Presque Isle Downs and Casino was fined $45,000 Wednesday for allowing a patron to drink on the gaming floor in violation of a statewide order that prohibited bars from selling alcohol unless it was served with a meal. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Wednesday approved consent agreements between its Office of Enforcement Counsel and three casino operators resulting in a total of $150,000 in fines. The statewide order — issued on July 16, 2020 and lifted on April 4 — was meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. It was among several mitigation efforts put in place as restaurants and bars were able to resume indoor service.

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Financial Director Stole $3M, Blew it at Harrah’s 

The former financial director of Kappa Alpha Psi, one of America’s largest Black college fraternities, has admitted to embezzling nearly $3 million from the organization, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Prosecutors say Curtis D. Anderson blew most of the money he stole at Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack. According to court filings, the 58-year-old Claymont, Del. resident began siphoning money from the fraternity in June 2012. Anderson’s MO was simply to write checks from the Kappa Alpha Psi check book to himself or to others whose signatures he faked. He would then exchange them for cash at Santander or Wells Fargo banks. In all, he is accused of cashing 78 bogus checks over a six-year period.

UAW Member to Appear in Court in Case of $2M Embezzlement

Timothy Edmunds has been “temporarily detained” for his suspect involvement of misappropriating $2 million. Investigators were led to Edmunds after finding out that some $142,000 had been redirected to his union debit credit with $30,000 worth of withdrawals at ATMs from 2018 through 2020. The ATMs withdrawals were done at Greektown Casino. Between 2016 and 2020, the investigation alleged, Edmunds had delivered buy-ins north of $1 million, and the total amount of gambling done exceeded $16 million in the four-year span. Handling such amounts should have alerted authorities much sooner, but Edmunds, the investigation claims, was smarter than that. He knew that if he cashed out more than a given amount, he would be reported on the Currency Transaction Report, which is obligatory under the Bank Secrecy Act. Cashing $10,000 of chips at a time, Edmunds seemed to avoid being detected.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/29 – 12/05

Three dead in Stateline Casino shooting (MT)

Three people are dead in an apparent murder/suicide at the Stateline Casino in Bainville, Montana. The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office reported that deputies responded to a reported shooting at the Stateline Casino at approximately 5:20 p.m. on Saturday, Nov 6. Upon arrival, they discovered three deceased individuals, including the suspected shooter. The Sheriff’s office reported that surveillance video recovered from the scene appears to show that 56-year-old Bradford Mann of Williston shot and killed his wife, 49-year-old Jennifer Mann, also of Williston, and 63-year-old Scot Panasuk of Bainville, before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life.

Ransomware gangs hit several tribal-owned casinos in the last year

The FBI’s Cyber Division said in a private industry notification issued earlier this week that ransomware gangs have hit several tribal-owned casinos, taking down their systems and disabling connected systems. These attacks are part of a long series of similar incidents targeting tribal entities since 2016, with damages estimated in the millions of dollars in recent months. Ransomware-hit casinos had to shut down their gaming floors, as well as restaurants, hotels, and gas stations, causing significant revenues losses after being forced into providing limited or no services to customers while working on restoring their systems.

Limited cyber investigative capabilities and law enforcement resources are likely some of the reasons behind ransomware groups’ seeing US tribes as desirable targets, according to the FBI. Ransomware gangs that coordinated attacks against tribal communities include REvil (Sodinokibi), Bitpaymer, Ryuk, Conti, Snatch, and Cuba. Due to these incidents, tribal entities have dealt with operational disruption, theft of sensitive data, and financial losses.

Online Gambling Companies to Refund $1.2M Doctor Embezzled from UK Health Service

Several unnamed online gambling companies in the UK will repay more than £900,000 ($1.2 million) in public money, stolen and gambled away by a rogue doctor from the country’s National Health Service. Senior general practitioner Dr Rumi Chhapia, 45, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison by a court in Portsmouth, England last week. Chhapia pleaded guilty to siphoning a total of £1.2 million ($1.5 million) from a network of doctors’ surgeries, the Portsmouth Primary Care Association (PPCA), which he co-founded. Chhapia stole the money during “six weeks of madness,” according to his lawyer. At the time, he had been placed in control of the organization’s accounts when the regular financial controller was signed off sick. The physician, who earned £200,000 ($270,000) a year, plowed the cash into online gambling sites, chasing jackpots on slot machines and big wins on roulette.

Man abducted after returning home from casino, police say

Police in Philadelphia said a man was abducted after he returned home from a casino trip. The man said he noticed a U-Haul van parked at his home in Philadelphia when he returned home at about 1 a.m. Sunday, WPVI reported. He is not sure if he was followed home from the Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, about half an hour away from the city. After he parked his car, he told police three masked men grabbed him and threw him into the van. He said at least two of them were armed, WPVI reported. He told police they took him to an unknown location and tied him up, demanding that he tell them where he has money hidden in his home. This is not the first time someone was attacked after leaving the casino. A 53-year-old man from Middlesex County, New Jersey was killed after he was followed home from Parx Casino, police said, according to WPVI.

Pennsylvania’s Valley Forge Casino To Install Infrared Cameras To Watch For Kids in Cars 

The increased number of unattended minors left in parked cars at Pennsylvania’s Valley Forge Casino Resort while adults gamble has led the gaming property to take several new precautions. One includes installing infrared surveillance cameras. The infrared cameras can detect heat if a child or other person is in a parked car. That will assist security guards patrolling vehicles with darkened windows. Since January, Valley Forge, located in King of Prussia, saw 22 times when unattended children were left in cars or other vehicles. That compares to 15 such incidents in the past three years, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. If caught leaving kids in vehicles, the suspects could be prosecuted and banned for life from the state’s casinos.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/22 – 11/28

L.A. casino fined $500,000 for looking the other way when a gambler brought duffle bags stuffed with $100 million for marathon gambling sessions

A Los Angeles County casino was hit with a hefty fine for failing to properly alert financial regulators and the Internal Revenue Service when a “high roller” walked in with $100 million in cash to bet on games of baccarat. Federal prosecutors say the unnamed whale — who was described only as a Chinese national — made over 100 visits to the Bicycle Hotel & Casino over eight months in 2016, often arriving with duffle bags full of cash to bet on marathon sessions of the high-stakes card game. On numerous occasions, the gambler’s assistant would exchange millions in cash for chips, with the high roller cashing in and cashing out approximately $100 million during the course of his months-long gambling spree, prosecutors said.

When gamblers buy over $10,000 in chips using cash, a casino is required to file a currency-transaction report and a suspicious-activity report with the Department of the Treasury. But prosecutors say the casino routinely filed the forms in the name of the gambler’s assistant, in violation of the law. Last week, the casino reached a nonprosecution agreement with the Department of Justice under which it will pay a $500,000 fine and revamp its anti-money-laundering protocols.

Man arrested months after fatal shooting at illegal gambling operation in San Antonio

A San Antonio man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of murder months after a fatal shooting at an illegal gaming room, according to police. The footage, taken on a cell phone, showed Alderete walking over to Isaac and attempting to shake his hand, according to the affidavit. Isaac is seen pulling out a gun and pointing it at Alderete, shooting him in the chest. The two kept fighting, and Alderete was shot a second time. Isaac’s stepdaughter was also shot in the ankle during the struggle. 

Two employees get prison for stealing $777K from Native American addiction center 

Two employees of a Native American counseling and addiction center, including its executive director, have been sentenced on charges of embezzling more than $777,000 in federal funds. DeCoteau served as executive director of Ain Dah Ing (ADI), which has operated as a non-profit halfway house in Spooner, Wisconsin since 1971, from 2002 to 2017. Schmuck worked as the bookkeeper from 1990 to 2017. They were fired after the thefts were discovered. DeCoteau and Schmuck pleaded guilty to one count of theft of federal funds on July 15 and June 24, respectively. ADI offered mental health and alcohol and substance abuse services to Native Americans from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. At sentencing, Judge William M. Conley noted that DeCoteau and Schmuck stole more than 67% of the total funds intended for programming at ADI, and that they gambled away most of this money at local Indian casinos.

Former Office Manager Sentenced for Swindling Broken Arrow Business of $2.7 Million

Dihel pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion on July 21, 2021, after she brazenly embezzled more than $2.7 million from her employer from 2011 until May 2019. Dihel took advantage of her trusted position as an office manager at the business and forged the president’s signature on approximately 334 checks for her own benefit and to the detriment of the company. She made some checks payable to herself, some to her boyfriend and a family member, and some to personal credit card companies to pay her monthly credit card bills. Her boyfriend and family member were unaware of her scheme. Dihel further manipulated accounting entries in her employer’s books and records to cover her tracks. Dihel stated in her plea agreement that she spent most of the money on gambling. 

Cash, drugs, guns, flamethrower seized in Oakland illegal ‘gambling shack’ bust

The Oakland Police Department is investigating an illegal casino gambling operation that has already landed three arrests and the seizure of weapons, drugs and even a flame thrower. Among the items recovered by officers were four loaded firearms, a 50 round drum magazine, a flame thrower and $17,500 in cash, police said. OPD said officers also recovered eight gambling machines, a quarter pound of suspected meth, and a large amount of tar heroin packaged for distribution inside of what they described as a “gambling shack.” Two people were arrested during the search warrant, while a total of 11 people were detained. A third person, who is believed to have been running the operation, was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm, police said.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/15 – 11/21

UPDATE: Man who shot his ex outside of Toppenish casino fatally shot by police 

A 41-year-old man accused of recently shooting his ex-girlfriend at Legends Casino in Toppenish was fatally shot by Idaho sheriff’s deputies after he fired his gun at them, led them on a high-speed chase across counties and pulled a gun on them a second time. Buddy McKenzie, 41, was previously charged with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and illegally possessing a firearm after police said he shot a 37-year-old woman in the stomach and head on Oct. 4 in the Legends Casino parking lot.

Deputies confirmed that McKenzie was the shooter by looking through the casino’s security footage. A nationwide warrant was issued for his arrest with a reward of $750,000, but deputies were unable to locate him until they got a call that McKenzie had been found more than 600 miles away in southern Idaho. Schilperoort said on Wednesday afternoon, McKenzie fired several gunshots at law enforcement officers in Caribou County, Idaho and fled in a small, white pickup truck. The high-speed chase continued for about 20 minutes and through into nearby Bannock County. Law enforcement officers were able to use spikes to deflate the truck’s tires and the vehicle eventually came to a stop on Highway 30 near the exit to McCammon. Schilperoort said McKenzie got out of the truck, pulled out a pistol and pointed it at deputies.

Shots Fired In Parking Lot Of Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

Friday morning just after 3 a.m Reno Police responded to reports of shots fired in the parking lot of the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. Police arrived on scene to find shell casings in the parking area on the west side of the building. No one was injured though multiple unoccupied vehicles were hit. Police say they’ve identified a possible vehicle and suspect but have made no arrests yet or determined the cause.

Northeastern Minnesota casino employee sentenced for theft of more than $300K

An Orr woman will serve eight months in federal prison for embezzling more than $300,000 from Fortune Bay Resort Casino in Tower. Boutto, a former front desk supervisor at the casino, pleaded guilty in March to a felony count of embezzlement and theft of tribal funds. Authorities said she managed to steal $315,739.87 by processing nearly 3,000 false cash refunds between January 2013 and October 2019. According to court documents, Boutto began working as a reservationist in 2008 and was promoted over the years — eventually gaining the ability to issue cash refunds without direct oversight. “Boutto’s scheme to defraud was premised on this access,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Sing wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Boutto identified customers who spent significant money at Fortune Bay and, after the customers checked out, issued a false cash refund against the invoice. Boutto concocted various reasons for the refunds and then retrieved the cash for herself from Fortune Bay’s vault. The scheme worked, and Boutto’s confidence in it grew over time.”

Spanish Woman Faked Own Kidnapping, Used Husband’s Ransom to Play Bingo 

Spanish police have arrested a woman they accuse of faking her own kidnapping and using the ransom for bingo buy-ins. According to Mossos d’Esquadra, the police force serving Spain’s semi-autonomous Catalonia region, the unnamed 47-year-old woman concocted the plan while her husband was being treated in a local hospital. The unfortunate man called police in a panic on October 6 after he received messages on his mobile phone, purportedly from his wife’s abductors. He was told he would have to pay a €6,000 ($7,000) ransom to secure the woman’s freedom. The case was assigned to Mossos d’Esquadra’s elite kidnap and extortion unit. Fearing his wife was in mortal danger, the man was advised to pay a portion of the ransom, in line with instructions in the messages.

When some of the ransom was later withdrawn from a bank in Badalona, near Barcelona, agents sprang into action, obtaining footage from the security camera. The video showed the purported abductee, apparently safe and well, thumbing the cash. The unit then traced her to a nearby casino. In security video from the venue released this week by Mossos d’Esquadra, she is seen washing her hands with sanitizer at the entrance, before marching past the slot machines to the bingo hall. She was arrested that evening, mid-bingo game, and charged with extortion and suspicion of reporting a fake crime.

Ex-State Fair Finance Head Gets Jail, Probation for Theft 

The former finance director of the Nebraska State Fair was sentenced Friday to 30 days in jail and 15 years’ probation for stealing more than $150,000 from the fair. Patrick Kopke, 30, received the sentence Friday and was ordered to pay restitution of more than $158,000 to the State Fair, television station KSNB reported. He was also ordered to undergo counseling for a gambling addiction. In August, Kopke pleaded no contest to three counts of felony theft. He had faced up to 20 years in prison on each charge. A state audit found that a company Kopke created was paid nearly $150,000 in state funds but there was no proof the company had done any work for the fair.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/08 – 11/14

S.I. man was boss of ‘Diamond Enterprise’ ring, feds say

The Staten Island leader of a racketeering operation dubbed the “Diamond Enterprise” pleaded guilty to multiple charges in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday in connection with underground gambling establishments that propped up a criminal organization under his control. Abduraman Iseni, 56, who authorities said is a Staten Island resident, pleaded guilty to eight charges including racketeering, money laundering, bank fraud conspiracy, making false statements to a bank, making interstate threats and two gambling offenses.

Iseni made the guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Andrew L. Carter. “As he admitted today, Abduraman Iseni led a network of underground gambling establishments to prop up a criminal enterprise under his control,” said U.S. Attorney Damien Williams. “Iseni engaged in a series of additional crimes, including money laundering, threatening a victim with physical violence, and defrauding and lying to banks in an effort to receive money to which he was not entitled,” said Williams. “Thanks to the hard work of our partners at the FBI, Iseni stands convicted of numerous offenses and awaits sentencing for his years of crime.”

Legends Casino shooting, nationwide warrant issued at 750K

Police are still actively looking for Buddy McKenzie as there is a nationwide warrant for his arrest of 750K. Authorities say they are receiving Crime Stoppers tips and Det. Reyna is receiving phone calls, but still no leads in finding McKenzie. Investigators confirmed the victim is 37-year-old Lupe Torres, and she is still alive. Police are asking for the publics help in finding 41-year-old Buddy Byron Mckenzie for shooting Torres in front of Legends Casino. In the early morning of Monday, October 4th, deputies were called to Legends Casino for a report of a woman that was shot in the parking lot of the casino.

According to investigators, casino security found the woman and directed deputies to the crime scene where deputies realized the woman had a gunshot wound to her head and torso. Deputies provided first aid until medics arrived and took her to the hospital by ambulance. If anyone has information about this shooting and where they can find Buddy Mckenzie please call Detective Reyna at (509)574-2567 or CrimeStoppers at (800) 248-9980  Case 21C16703

Fatal Punch at The Strat Leads to Las Vegas Murder Charge

A Las Vegas man is to appear in court on Tuesday for allegedly murdering another man in the lobby of the Strat Hotel, Casino & SkyPod several weeks ago. The charge was brought to light this week. Initially, Michael Saunders was charged with battery for the Aug. 27 incident, but the charge was upgraded to murder after the victim died from his injuries, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Saunders is currently being held without bail. If convicted, he could face life in prison. He has been convicted previously for unrelated crimes in Nevada.

Five accused of scamming more than $1M at Atlantic City casinos

Five New York City residents are accused of stealing more than $1.1 million from casinos here through a bogus-check scheme. The suspects allegedly exchanged phony bank checks for gaming chips at five casinos between Aug. 26 and Aug. 28, said the Attorney General’s Office. Three of the casinos — Borgata, Caesars and Ocean — each lost $284,000 to the scheme, the agency said in a statement Thursday. The Golden Nugget and Hard Rock casinos lost $134,000 apiece.

“The defendants were caught executing a sophisticated financial scheme spanning multiple casinos and over a million dollars in fraudulent checks,” Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck alleged Thursday in announcing charges in the case. The suspects allegedly presented each casino with two fake checks, one for $150,000 and another for $134,000, the statement said. The checks appeared to be from TD Bank and Bank of America. Hard Rock’s loss was lower because it denied a $150,000 check. Golden Nugget reduced its exposure by telling a suspect she could only receive incremental amounts on a $134,000 check.

Pennsylvania Board Adds Three to Casino Exclusion List for Leaving Kids Unattended

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) this week placed the names of three parents or guardians on an exclusion list. They were involved in separate situations, leaving kids unattended in cars parked at a casino.

In each case, the parent or guardian went into the casino while the child or children were left alone in the car. The board called the adults’ actions “irresponsible.” “In making these decisions regarding the three adults, the Board is reminding the gambling public to not leave children unattended … not only because of the possible exclusion from all Pennsylvania casinos and prosecution, but more importantly due to the possible safety hazard to the child,” the PGCB said in a statement. Now that the adults are on the Involuntary Exclusion List, they are prohibited from entering or gambling at any Pennsylvania casino, the statement adds.

The PGCB detailed each incident. One of the parents was placed on the list after leaving an 11-year-old child in a parked car, while the adult went into the casino to redeem a sportsbook ticket. In another case, the father of two boys — one of whom was eight and the other five — was placed on the list after leaving them in his car while he placed a bet at the sportsbook and played craps, the statement said. And a woman was placed on the list for leaving four children — ages 13, 13, 10 and two — in her vehicle while she watched an acquaintance play craps.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 10/25 – 11/07

Woman leaves child in car while gambling 

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

Peppermill Casino Worker Stabbed in Reno, Suspect Nabbed

An employee at Reno, Nev.’s Peppermill Resort Spa Casino is expected to recover from stab wounds suffered earlier this week, according to local police. The victim got head cuts Monday night during the violent incident at the venue. The suspect was apprehended at the crime scene. Neither he nor the victim were identified by local police. The worker was stabbed at about 9 pm on Monday, KRNV, a local TV station, reported. The injuries were not life-threating, the report adds. It was unclear what led to the violence.

Woman in critical condition after shooting at Legends Casino, investigators searching for suspect

Investigators are searching for Buddy Byron McKenzie, 41, who’s suspected of shooting a woman twice at Legends Casino, leaving her in critical condition, according to the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office were called to Legends Casino early Monday morning for a report that a woman was shot in the parking lot of the casino. Investigators says the woman had a gunshot wound to her head and torso, and was transported to a hospital by an ambulance. The Yakima County Sheriff’s Office says Buddy Byron McKenzie, 41, is suspected of shooting the woman. Investigators are searching for McKenzie who’s considered armed and dangerous.

Hollywood Casino Raided By Los Angeles Law Enforcement

A business in Hollywood, Calif. was the subject of a recent raid in Los Angeles. The warrant resulted in the arrest of an individual who allegedly operated illegal gaming activities inside the establishment. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced yesterday that three separate businesses were raided recently on suspicion of conducting illegal activities. Two were carried out at what police believe are underground illegal nightclubs, where illicit narcotics were readily available. The third case involves an alleged underground casino. Law enforcement in California continues to try and tackle the herculean task of infiltrating the vast network of illegal underground gambling hubs. This week’s bust is just the latest in a string of recent raids of alleged unlawful casinos.

MLS suspends Felipe Hernandez for gambling violations 

Major League Soccer suspended Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Hernandez without pay for the rest of the season Friday for violating the league’s gambling integrity rules and standards of conduct. MLS said Hernandez engaged in extensive and unlawful sports gambling, including placing wagers on two MLS matches, in direct contravention of league rules. MLS said it initiated an investigation July 5 after Hernandez disclosed to Sporting Kansas City that he was concerned about his personal safety due to gambling debts. 

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

A Brief Look at Crime  10/18 – 10/24

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

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

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

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

Former Indiana casino executive faces new charges related to tax evasion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman leaves child in car while gambling 

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

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

A Brief Look at Crime 10/11 – 10/17

South Point Casino Lot Sees Woman’s Body Discovered, Las Vegas Cops Investigating

Investigators continue to look into the circumstances surrounding a woman’s body discovered at a parking lot at Las Vegas’ South Point Hotel Casino & Spa. The lifeless body was discovered midday Tuesday. As of Wednesday, Metro police had not yet identified the cause of death. The unnamed dead woman was found shortly before 11 am, KLAS, a local TV station, reported. Metro detectives were searching the lot for evidence on Tuesday. 

In the past year, South Point Casino was the scene of other unrelated crimes. Last October, South Point Hotel Casino was the scene of a fatal shooting, as security officers shot an armed man. The man had fired a gun in the air and refused to drop the firearm outside of the gaming property, the Review-Journal reported. The unidentified man had fired a shot near the casino’s valet area, according to the report. He also had entered and exited the casino. He kept brandishing a handgun and then pointed it at two security guards outside of the building, the Review-Journal said. He allegedly refused to drop the weapon during the stand-off with security officers. The officers then fatally wounded the man.

Warrants served on 4 Fayette Co. businesses for alleged illegal gambling 

Gaming agents from the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC), along with personnel from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, served search warrants Wednesday on four businesses in Fayette County associated with illegal gambling. OCCC agents launched an investigation after receiving complaints the businesses were paying out cash prizes and operating illegal gaming machines in violation of Ohio law. “The operators of these illegal casinos took advantage of their community to line their own pockets in blatant disregard of the law,” said Matthew Schuler, executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. “The Commission is tasked with ensuring gaming in Ohio is conducted honestly and with integrity, and we will continue to take action against those who violate Ohio’s gaming laws.” “We appreciate the assistance of the Ohio Casino Control Commission in shutting down these illegal establishments, which prey on vulnerable Ohioans,” said Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth.

California councilman faces illegal gambling, EDD fraud and tax evasion charges after arraignment

Lodi city councilman Shakir Khan is facing accusations of illegal gambling, EDD fraud, tax evasion and money laundering. He was arraigned in court Tuesday afternoon. Khan wasn’t alone during the arraignment. Prosecutors said he was arraigned in conjunction with co-defendant Zakir Khan, and said that Mohammed Khan, another co-defendant, will be arraigned on Oct. 26. The defendants allegedly had an illegal gambling operation out of two Stockton businesses and laundered the profits, according the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office. The Lodi councilman was also accused of illegally receiving money from the state during the state’s pandemic relief efforts. “Cases involving money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion are very complex and require an inordinate amount of resources to prove,” said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar in a news release. “Integrity matters, the truth matters, and our office prosecutes those who prey on and take advantage of marginalized communities.”

After poker ‘disaster,’ watchdog suggests stripping Va. Charitable Gaming Board of some powers 

A new report from Virginia’s watchdog agency suggests limiting the Virginia Charitable Gaming Board’s regulatory powers after concluding the board’s chairman failed to properly recuse himself from writing rules for Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournaments he stood to benefit from. The 59-page report, delivered to legislators and Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration Wednesday, identified major problems with the state’s failed effort to legalize and regulate charitable poker. The regulations written by the industry board, the report said, “damage the integrity of the charitable gaming program” by explicitly allowing conflicts of interest and minimizing the involvement of charities.

“This appears to provide for the creation of poker halls in Virginia,” the Office of the Inspector General (OSIG) wrote, adding the “low level of involvement required by the charity” could make it difficult for regulators to track where poker profits are going. Chuck Lessin, a homebuilder now operating his own poker room at his Richmond sports bar and bingo hall, played a key role in the development of those regulations as chairman of the Charitable Gaming Board. He disclosed his personal interest in the outcome, but state investigators say that wasn’t enough and he should’ve recused himself entirely. “Board members not properly recusing themselves in accordance to both the code and their approved bylaws damages the integrity of the board and the overall commonwealth’s charitable gaming oversight,” the agency wrote.

Tesuque Casino remains closed after cyberattack (NM)

It was unclear Friday when the 3-year-old casino, next to the Santa Fe Opera off U.S. 84/284, will reopen. Upon discovering the cyberattack, the casino took steps to remediate the damage, the pueblo reported in the news release. “These steps included the isolation of affected systems and deploying of actions to resolve the issues,” the release states. “Tesuque Casino has also initiated a comprehensive investigation into the incident. The findings will serve to further strengthen the casino’s cyber security defenses.” “Through our fast-acting team and external IT specialists, we were able to contain and remedy the issue as swiftly as possible,” Tesuque Gov. Mark Mitchell said in the release. “We are continuing to be vigilant about security and protection of confidential information for our customers and employees.” Casino officials were not available for comment about potential compromise of customer information.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 10/04 – 10/10

‘I still hear the gunshots in my head’: Eyewitness to casino shooting recounts terrifying moments

What was supposed to be a fun night ended in terror over the weekend after a man opened fire at the Golden Nugget in Biloxi. One man died and dozens of people there were left scared for their lives as they rushed to take cover. Randy Johnson, a 41-year-old father of three and well-known barber in Gulfport, died after being shot multiple times. The suspect, Jereme Jones, was arrested shortly after the shooting and is now charged with murder. Rosie Hartfield was one of the terrified guests at the casino. The pregnant Wiggins woman said she had not been on the casino floor long when multiple gunshots were fired. “I wasn’t even on the floor 10 minutes when someone right by me gets to shooting at someone else,” she said.

Nearly 24 hours later, the trauma still lingers. “It was like, pow, and it paused,” Hartfield said. “Then it was pow, pow, pow, pow, pow. Six shots. The noise, I still hear the gunshots in my head.” Hartfield was staying at the Golden Nugget to celebrate her 29th birthday with her husband. She said she was playing the slots when it happened. “He shot a guy no more than 3 or 4 feet away from me,” she said.

The aftermath was chaotic. Hartfield said she heard screaming and yelling as terror-stricken casino employees and guests, including several elderly people in wheelchairs, rushed to take cover. “Everybody was just rushing out. At that time, I left my purse, I left money in the machine. Everything just dropped,” recalled Hartfield. “I’m pregnant so I was trying to run, too. I was very afraid. I went into a panic attack. People had to help me sit down.” For hours after the shooting, hotel guests, including Hartfield and her husband, were put on lockdown in their hotel room, avoiding the crime scene downstairs. “I haven’t been out of my room. I got my husband to get me something to eat now. Like, I’m like still freaked out,” said Hartfield on Sunday, more than 24 hours after the shooting.

Station Casinos facing disciplinary action for accepting post-game sports wagers

The Gaming Control Board is seeking to impose a yet-to-be-determined fine or other disciplinary action on Station Casinos after the company’s sportsbook inside Red Rock Resort accepted approximately 348 wagers on events with already known outcomes. The problematic bets took place over a three-year period. In a two-count complaint filed Sept. 13, the Control Board said that when the company reported an issue to regulators on March 18, it blamed a computer malfunction caused by “insufficient server memory” for its Stadium Live sports wagering program. Three times in prior years, once in 2018 and twice in 2019, the Control Board issued sports wagering regulation violation letters to Red Rock Resort. According to the complaint, Station Casinos said the recent malfunction caused the Red Rock Resort sportsbook to issue 167 wagering tickets, which were later voided with the bets being refunded. However, the Control Board said the company was already “well aware of prior computer errors related” to the Stadium Live program. According to the complaint, gaming regulators told the sportsbook operators they needed to have a “redundant monitoring process” in place to ensure wagers were not accepted on events where the outcome has been determined.

Cwmbran boss jailed over £825k fraud to fund online gambling addiction (UK)

A FINANCIAL director who swindled her company out of £825,000 to feed her “crazy” online gambling addiction has just over £2,000 left which can be seized. Lauren Farr, 35, was jailed earlier this year after she admitted conning We Fight Any Claim in Cwmbran where she worked as a senior executive. The mother-of-two, of Spring Grove, Cwmbran, gambled around £1.5 million through betting sites such as Paddy Power and Betfred.  Appearing via video link from Eastwood Park women’s prison, Farr was back at Cardiff Crown Court to face her Proceeds of Crime Act hearing. The judge, Recorder David Elias QC, heard how she had benefitted (sic) by £825,751.60 from her crime. The available amount of her assets are £2,044.72 and she has three months to hand it over or face an extra two months in prison. Farr was jailed for two years and eight months in January after pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position.

Ex-Chester County Judge Pleads Guilty to Gambling Campaign Funds

A former Chester County judge has pleaded guilty to illegally using his campaign funds to gamble at casinos in Pennsylvania including Penn National’s Hollywood Casino in Grantville and Harrah’s Philadelphia. He also gambled at casinos in Delaware and New Jersey. The criminal complaint against him alleged that in total, Michael Cabry III had wagered more than $110,700 in 2017. But because of a significant win at Delaware Park of more than $100,000, his total loss for that year was only slightly more than $9,000.

According to a statement from Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro‘s office, his plea was for theft by unlawful taking and violations of the Election Code. Shapiro issued a statement: “The defendant has taken responsibility for his actions that undermined both his authority as a judge and the public’s trust. My office is dedicated to holding public officials who break the law accountable, without fear or favor.”

Man brought massive gambling ring to Illinois State University 

The youngest person charged in connection with a massive international gambling ring, who was accused by the feds of running a “significant bookmaking operation” at Illinois State University, dodged prison during his sentencing hearing Tuesday. Instead, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall gave six months of home confinement and a $10,000 fine to 25-year-old Matthew Namoff. Federal prosecutors say Vincent “Uncle Mick” DelGiudice groomed Namoff and made him an equal partner in the larger gambling ring DelGiudice ran online. They said Namoff managed 60 gamblers at ISU, and DelGiudice saw it as a business opportunity. That’s because Namoff’s gamblers would eventually leave ISU, get jobs and increase their bets. “These were not small bets in a dorm room over beer,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Kinney wrote in a court memo.

DelGiudice admitted earlier this year that he ran the larger bookmaking business from 2016 to 2019 in and around Chicago. Namoff, who pleaded guilty to his role in April, is the seventh person to be sentenced in a series of related cases that have been filed since early 2020. Two of the six people previously sentenced landed prison time, but four others avoided it. Another defendant, Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher, was pardoned in January by then-President Donald Trump. DelGiudice has not been sentenced.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 9/27 – 10/03

Former Accounting Coordinator for Non-Profit Organization Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling More than $321K

A resident of Pittsburgh, PA, has been sentenced in federal court to 17 months of prison followed by two years of supervised release on her conviction of bank fraud, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today. According to information presented to the court, Strother-Rush was an Accounting Coordinator for the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council, which is a nonprofit organization that was created to increase business opportunities for minority-owned businesses. From approximately August 2014 until August 2016, Strother-Rush embezzled $321,255.88 in various ways and spent on funds on, among other things, gambling and frivolous purchases. The primary way in which she embezzled funds was by writing checks to herself from the operating accounts and forging her supervisor’s signature on the checks. She also made unauthorized ATM withdrawals, including several at the Rivers Casino. Lastly, she accessed the payroll bank account online and made unauthorized electronic checks payable to herself.

Phoenix man ordered to pay $500K for sports betting fraud

The Arizona Corporation Commission has ordered a Phoenix man to pay more than $500,000 in restitution for defrauding investors who had invested in a sports betting fund. During a meeting on Sept. 8, the commission decided to penalize John Uranga for misleading individuals who invested in a fund they thought would pool their money together to gamble on sporting events. Uranga was ordered to pay $459,699 in restitution and a $100,000 administrative penalty. According to the commission, Uranga encouraged people to invest in the sports betting fund by posting social media posts that suggested he was living a luxurious lifestyle.   

“Uranga claimed to own five cars, three houses in three different states, two apartment complexes, and several businesses; including two auto body shops, a hotel, a car dealership, six cell phone stores, a pawn shop, a multi-media company, a property management company, and one gun store,” commission records state. Gambling records showed Uranga had only placed $6,560 worth of legitimate sports bets in 2018 and incurred a net loss of $2,460 from this activity, according to the commission. The commission said it discovered that a significant amount of Uranga’s income was bankrolled by investor funds.   

County clamps down on internet cafes (FL)

People planning on opening an internet café in Citrus County might want to think twice. County commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously to crack down on café operators by directing the county attorney to draft an ordinance with more severe fines and longer jail time. The new ordinance allows deputies to fine operators per machine. So if a café had 30 games, the penalty would be a $15,000 fine and five years in jail. A misdemeanor carried a 60-day jail term or $500 fine. Commissioner Jeff Kinnard, who called for the ordinance, said he wanted to stop such places from opening. Period. State legislators in 2019 reduced the penalty for illegal activities at an internet café from a felony to a misdemeanor. That same year, the Citrus County’s Sheriff’s Office arrested several people at at least two such cafés when they found illegal gambling and drug activity. “We’re not talking about minor crimes either,” Lt. Craig Callahan told commissioners at the meeting. Callahan ticked off several serious crimes occurring at the cafés, including strong-arm robbery and gun violence.

Kentucky to receive $300 Million from online gambling lawsuit

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says J. Michael Brown, the Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet in 2008, brought actions on behalf of Kentucky in Franklin Circuit Court to stop the unregulated, untaxed and illegal offshore gambling operations running in Kentucky. PokerStars collected almost $300 million in actual cash losses from thousands of Kentuckians who played on PokerStars’ websites from 2007 to 2011. Under Kentucky law, the state brought an action against PokerStars seeking recovery of the nearly $300 million lost by its citizens and trebled as required by Kentucky law damages. Last year, the Supreme Court of Kentucky affirmed that judgment, which was rendered in December 2015. Flutter Entertainment and its subsidiary, PokerStars, are located in the Isle of Man, United Kingdom. PokerStars claimed that the English Protection of Trading Interests Act of 1980 could have prevented the commonwealth from collecting the damages upheld by the Supreme Court of Kentucky. The $300 million settlement amount is nearly $10 million above the actual damages awarded by the courts, which was $290,230,077.94.

Police arrest Amber Alert suspect after 10-year-old boy, car taken from casino

Authorities say two people have been arrested following an Amber Alert on Wednesday morning. Officials say it all started when a woman went to Newcastle Casino around 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 22. Investigators say the mother left her Lincoln MKX running with the keys in the ignition, and her 10-year-old son in the car. A short time later, authorities say a man got into the car and took off. According to the Amber Alert, the suspect was seen driving the stolen vehicle southbound on the H.E. Bailey Turnpike around 4:21 a.m. After the Amber Alert was issued, a bystander spotted the stolen vehicle at a store near S.W. 15th and Czech Hall Road. Within four minutes of that 911 call, the store was swarmed by police from various departments. Investigators arrested 36-year-old Seth Grant. Maj. Adam Flowers, with the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, told KFOR that the child’s mother was also arrested on a complaint of child neglect. The boy is currently with the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department.

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

A Brief Look at Crime  9/20 – 9/26

Problem gamblers have highest suicide rate of any addiction disorder, studies show

September is World Suicide Prevention week, and experts are raising awareness about disordered gambling, which has the highest suicide rate among all addictions with 1 in 5 problem gamblers attempting suicide. The 2017 Report on Problem Gambling Services shows that nearly one in 10 Ohioans who gamble are currently experiencing or are at risk of developing a gambling problem. Roughly one in five pathological gamblers attempts suicide, a rate higher than that for any other addictive disorder. Approximately 220,000 Ohioans engage in at-risk gambling with 30,000 engaging in problem gambling behaviors. Early detection and support are essential in getting help for problem gambling and preventing suicide. Unlike other addictions, problem gambling has no physical symptoms.

Combined with the stigma surrounding discussing finances, a gambling problem can often go undetected, resulting in devastating consequences for the gambler and their family. However, these are common warning signs to look for: Exaggerating gambling wins and downplaying losses; Asking for loans to cover gambling losses; Using money for food, rent or other necessities for gambling; Poor work performance; Restlessness or irritability when not gambling 

Chicago Gambling Ring Convicts Get Sentenced

According to the prosecution, Matthew Knight was second in the gambling ring agent hierarchy. Despite that, he got only six months of community confinement, two years of probation, a $10,000 fine, and 100 hours of community service. District Judge Virginia Kendall explained that the light sentence comes as a result of Matthew Knight’s clean history, his evident guilt, and his willingness to cooperate with the law keepers. The prosecution pointed out FBI experts’ claim that Knight’s gamblers might have generated as much as $18 million just in 2018, but the judge explained that despite his big role in the gambling ring, he was less guilty than DelGiudice and Nicholas Stella – a police officer who participated in the illegal betting activities. In comparison, DelGiudice, who pleaded guilty in February, faces up to 25 years for a gambling conspiracy and money laundering. Although he’s pleaded guilty, no sentence has been pronounced yet. Nicholas Stella was already sentenced to 15 months in prison. A few people were   also sentenced because of ties with the gambling ring, with former President Donald Trump personally pardoning Casey Urlacher, the mayor of Mettawa who was among the convicts.

1400 Arrests, $8M Seized in Illegal Gambling at Euro: Interpol 

An Interpol operation targeting illegal gambling during Euro 2020 led to 1400 arrests and the seizure of $7.9 million (6.7 million euros) in cash, the Lyon-based global crime agency reported. Thousands of raids in Asia and Europe also resulted in the confiscation of computers and mobile phones connected to almost $465 million in bets. “While most of us were watching the UEFA European Football Championship as simple fans, hundreds of specialized officers across 28 countries were targeting organized crime groups looking to earn millions from illegal gambling and related money laundering activities,” an Interpol statement read.

Hong Kong police detained more than 800 suspects, “including the alleged kingpin of a triad-controlled bookmaking syndicate,” the statement said. In what was described as one of Hong Kong’s most successful operations ever they seized $2.7 million in cash and records detailing hundreds of millions in bets. In Italy, home of the European champions at the pandemic-delayed tournament, Operation SOGA VIII inspected 280 betting shops and delivered 1.3 million euros in sanctions for illegal betting schemes. In all, Interpol’s eight SOGA operations have led to more than 19,000 arrests, cash seizures of more than $63 million and the closure of over 4000 illegal betting dens.

Domestic dispute leads to shooting at Coahoma County casino

The Coahoma County Sheriff’s Department was called to the Isle Of Capri Casino Monday evening on a report that a man had been shot by a woman. Deputies were called at 7 p.m. about a shooting in the parking lot of the casino and told one person was suffering from non-life-threatening injuries. Deputies identified the victim as Robert Howard, no address given, who was transported to Regional One in Memphis. Deputies developed Valeria Hope, 18, no address given, as a suspect, but no arrest was made. Investigation reports said the incident appears to have been a domestic dispute.

Former Accounting Coordinator for Non-Profit Organization Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling More than $321K

A resident of Pittsburgh, PA, has been sentenced in federal court to 17 months of prison followed by two years of supervised release on her conviction of bank fraud, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today. United States District Judge David S. Cercone imposed the sentence on Danielle Strother-Rush, 34, of Columbia Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15218. According to information presented to the court, Strother-Rush was an Accounting Coordinator for the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council, which is a nonprofit organization that was created to increase business opportunities for minority-owned businesses. From approximately August 2014 until August 2016, Strother-Rush embezzled $321,255.88 in various ways and spent on funds on, among other things, gambling and frivolous purchases. The primary way in which she embezzled funds was by writing checks to herself from the operating accounts and forging her supervisor’s signature on the checks. She also made unauthorized ATM withdrawals, including several at the Rivers Casino. Lastly, she accessed the payroll bank account online and made unauthorized electronic checks payable to herself.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 9/13 – 9/19

Pennsylvania State Police Report 57 Incidents of Kids Left in Cars at Casinos

The Pennsylvania State Police reported that there have been 57 incidents of children being left unattended in a vehicle in casino parking lots so far in 2021. In addition to sharing the number of incidents, the PSP tweeted a message to their 74k followers: “Don’t gamble with your child’s life. It is illegal and endangers children. It can be deadly.” PSP Communications Director Grace Griffaton said: “Children should never be left unattended in a vehicle, especially right now. It’s extremely hot outside. In ten minutes, a car’s temperature can go up 2o degrees. Children are dying because of being left in cars. If you have to leave a child, call someone to watch that child.”

Kevin O’Toole, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control, commented to PlayPennsylvania: “We’ve been working to raise awareness of this problem. The PGCB has been working with each casino in PA and are requesting a number of properties to provide greater details regarding their process and making sure proper notifications are made when they learn of unattended children. We are making sure security personnel respond as soon as possible and get to the location as quickly as possible. We’ve also talked to casinos about reviewing and enhancing their signage about children being left unattended.”

Probe into Wildwood gaming company leads to seizure of ‘multiple gambling devices’ 

Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson said the Missouri Highway Patrol searched and seized “multiple gambling machines owned or operated” by Torch on June 15 at the AM-PM Food Mart after a Greene County judge signed off on a search warrant for 15 machines. A subpoena was also issued to the company, directing it to supply documents to prosecutors on July 16, but the company “failed to comply,” filing a motion to quash the subpoena and asking for a protective order, court documents said. The court battle is the latest evidence of increasing scrutiny on Torch, even as it has injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into Missouri politics and retains high-power lobbyists to kill proposals intended to crack down on unregulated games.

Honolulu Prosecutor’s office files civil lawsuit to crack down on illegal game room activity on Oahu (HI) 

The Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office has filed a first of its kind civil lawsuit in an effort to crack down on illegal game room activity on Oahu. The civil nuisance abatement complaint alleges McCully property owner KC Management, LLC and its agent Wai Tung Kwok, allowed illegal gambling to operate on its premises. According to the lawsuit, alleged cashier Tom Tran is accused of multiple gambling offenses in three separate cases on the same property. It’s asking for a court order to shut down the property for a year and permanently bar Tran from entering. “We’re trying to be creative about doing something to shut these down because otherwise, if you make a gambling case, they may stop it for a couple of days, and then it springs up a block later, or in the same place right after it’s shut down,” said Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm. Alm says with the possible exception of drugs, game rooms that attract crime, weapons, and other illegal activity, draw the most complaints from residents. 

Former low-income housing executive sentenced to prison for embezzling nearly $7 million

Pierce County Housing Authority finance executive used public funds for gambling and lavish lifestyle.  A former Pierce County Housing Authority executive was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 51 months in prison for wire fraud in connection with her scheme to steal nearly $7 million, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Cova Campbell pleaded guilty in January 2021, admitting that between March 2016 and July 2019, she used a variety of schemes to divert $6.9 million in public money to her own bank accounts.  “At a time when housing resources in our community are in historically high demand, this defendant stole from the poor and vulnerable who most needed assistance,” said U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Chief Sarah Vogel.  “Her greed meant there were less resources for the elderly, the disabled, the veterans, and the children in Pierce County who count on the Housing Authority to provide safe and secure shelter.”

Man leaving Manhattan gambling den with cash in hand wounded by pair of gunmen in ambush

A man leaving an illegal gambling den in Upper Manhattan with a handful of cash was shot by a pair of gunmen — but ultimately managed to escape with his life, police said Sunday. The 25-year-old victim was leaving the underground gambling hotspot on Amsterdam Ave. near W 176th St. in Washington Heights with a “wad of cash in his hand” when two hooded gunmen hopped out a black Chevy Tahoe about 7 a.m. Friday, a police source said. Surveillance video released by cops shows the victim and a friend running uptown on Amsterdam Ave. as one of the gunmen chases them, firing multiple rounds. The other gunman appears to chicken out, suddenly spinning around and running back to the SUV. The victim, who cops say lives in Mississippi, was struck in his left shoulder and left thigh but managed to get away from the shooter. He was taken to Harlem Hospital, where he was is in stable condition, police said

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

A Brief Look at Crime 9/06 – 9/12

Father and Sons Are Charged in $21 Million Lottery Fraud

No statistical model could explain it, and when a Massachusetts man and his two sons cashed in more than 13,000 winning lottery tickets worth nearly $21 million over eight years, federal prosecutors and lottery officials said it was anything but luck. “A statistician will say that there’s some astronomical odd,” Michael R. Sweeney, the executive director of the Massachusetts State Lottery, said in an interview. “But the reality is, it’s zero.”

In a 19-page indictment that was unsealed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, Ali Jaafar and his sons Mohamed Jaafar and Yousef Jaafar were collectively charged with more than a dozen counts of fraud, money laundering and tax evasion for taking part in what the authorities say was a ticket-cashing scheme. A vast majority of the tickets were the scratch-off type that are typically sold at convenience stores, prosecutors said.

From 2011 to 2019, according to the indictment, the Jaafars claimed the prizes on behalf of the actual winners, who potentially avoided having their winnings garnished for unpaid taxes or child support, a requirement for any prize over $600 in Massachusetts. The Jaafars then falsely reported six- and seven-figure gambling losses on their tax returns, allowing them to drastically reduce the taxes they paid on the winnings, prosecutors said.

Father charged after leaving children in car at casino 

A Westmoreland County father is facing charges after leaving his two children under the age of 3 alone in the car while he went to the casino. State police said the two children, ages 1 and 3, were left alone in a running vehicle last Saturday afternoon at Live! Casino Pittsburgh for nearly half an hour. Police said their dad, 28-year-old Zachary Bohinski went inside to place a takeout order for nachos at Guy Fieri’s restaurant. Instead of returning to the car, he decided to pass the time waiting for his order to be completed inside. “Instead of returning to the vehicle he goes into the casino and starts to play slot machines,” Pennsylvania State Trooper Steve Limani said. The children were left in the car for 28 minutes.

Woodland Man Suspected Of Kidnapping Woman Off Cache Creek Casino Property 

Deputies say a Yolo County kidnapping suspect was also apparently involved in a hit-and-run earlier in the day. The Yolo County Sheriff’s Office says, early Monday afternoon, a woman reported that a man had offered to give her a ride to the Cache Creek Casino mini-mart. She got in his truck, but the man instead started driving off casino property. She asked to leave the truck several times, deputies say. Eventually, the man ended up at a dead-end on County Road 78A. After he parked, the woman says she noticed that the man had a gun. Right at that moment, however, some ranchers showed up to work – giving the woman the distraction to get out of the truck. She was to wave down the ranchers, who soon took her back to the casino to get help where she then called authorities. Deputies later tracked the suspect’s truck to the 19000 block of County Road 78A. A stolen 9mm pistol was also found inside the truck, deputies say.

US Sports Betting Fraud Attempts Rise Significantly During Pandemic 

Sports betting fraud attempts skyrocketed in the second quarter of 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic peaked. A new TransUnion report released Wednesday found gaming to be the most susceptible industry to fraud attempts. The US digital fraud attempt rate in gaming jumped 261.9% from the second quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021. Travel and leisure was second with a 136.6% jump. Dissecting those figures, sports betting fraud attempts jumped 114% in the same time frame, according to Melissa Gaddis, senior director of customer success at TransUnion. The report is based on “billions of transactions” from TruValidate, a system used for identity proofing, authentication and fraud analytics.

“[We’re] seeing increases in transaction volumes and people who perpetrate fraud go where the money is,” Gaddis told LSR. US sports betting transactions are increasing rapidly. Overall, fraud attempts increased 16.5% globally, according to the report. The general rise was in part because of transaction growth between the two quarters. The second quarter of 2020 included the most significant shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, gaming was the most significant target for fraud attempts, rising 393%. Travel was second at 155.9%.

Nonprofit Head Accused of Stealing Money Meant to Feed Kids

A director of a nonprofit for youth in one of Mississippi poorest counties has been arrested for allegedly stealing state funds meant to feed needy children. Carol Jackson, the executive director and founder of Sunflower County’s On Track Community Development Corporation was indicted earlier this month on fraud charges, Mississippi State Auditor Shad White said Monday. Jackson is accused of submitting fraudulent documents and stealing more than $40,000 in Mississippi Department of Education money. She allegedly used state funds to write herself more than $20,000 in checks, withdrew thousands of dollars from an ATM at a local casino and spent nearly $2,000 on personal travel. “We will hold the line when someone steals any taxpayer funds, but we are even more motivated when someone steals money intended for children,” White said in a statement.

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