Category Archives: Crime

A Brief Look at Crime 04/16 – 04/22

California poker pro accused of ripping off investors in suspected Super Bowl, World Cup ticket-flipping.

A federal grand jury has indicted an Orange County poker pro for allegedly bilking investors out of more than $6 million in a suspected Super Bowl and World Cup ticket-flipping scam. The indictment charges Seyed Reza Ali Fazeli, 49, of Aliso Viejo with two felony counts of wire fraud tied to a Las Vegas-based ticket business that Fazeli ran named Summit Entertainment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday. According to the indictment, Fazeli from May 2016 through at least May 2017 raised $6.2 million from investors in Orange County, Houston and Las Vegas by promising to purchase tickets to the 2017 Super Bowl and the 2018 World Cup and then resell them at a “substantial profit.” “A large portion of investor funds were used for the personal benefit of Fazeli, including millions spent at Las Vegas casinos,” FBI Special Agent B.C. Mason wrote in an affidavit filed with the court. Fazeli was arrested on Feb. 14 following an FBI investigation. During a court hearing the next day, he was released on a $120,000 bond. He is scheduled to return to court for an arraignment on March 26.

Slate Belt woman charged in $400,000 fraud says, ‘I hate money and I hate gambling’

The former caretaker of a Slate Belt shooting club is accused of stealing more than $400,000 from the organization, its members and an insurance company through a variety of scams that allegedly fed a gambling addiction. Facing arraignment Thursday on 26 theft-related charges, Lisa A. Shafer came to court in Bangor without a lawyer, chatting outside the hearing with investigators and telling them she planned to plead guilty. “I’m not denying any charges,” Shafer told District Judge Alicia Zito inside the courtroom. “I’m not running away from any charges.” Police said the thefts spanned from 2012 to 2016 and centered around the Pocono Slate Belt Shooting Association in Upper Mount Bethel Township, a clay trap club on Lake Minsi Drive. Though the 50-year-old Wind Gap woman said she hoped to remain free until her case was resolved, she left in handcuffs after Zito set bail at $50,000. The judge noted that most of the alleged victims are seniors. “The list is quite expansive,” Zito told Shafer. “These sort of white-collar crimes, they hit close to home sometimes.” “She admitted she was a thief and would do anything it took to get money,” the affidavit said. Police said Shafer was a frequent gambler at Mount Airy Casino and Resort. In court to Zito, Shafer said she has been twice institutionalized for her gambling problem, and remains in counseling. “I hate money and I hate gambling,” Shafer said.

Women stole more than $800K from elderly victim

Two women who posed as an elderly woman’s caregiver and interior decorator, respectively, are accused of embezzling almost $600,000 from the victim between 2013 and 2017. Sandra Pelkey, 71, and Mary Jeannie Benedetto, 60, both of Bushnell Street, Plymouth, and described as mother and daughter in court documents, are each charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny. While the period from 2013-17 includes the alleged theft of $600,000, over a 10-year period Pelkey and Benedetto allegedly cashed more than $800,000 in checks made payable to them from the woman’s account, using multiple bank accounts to hide the funds they allegedly stole from the elderly woman, according to the arrest warrant. During the course of the investigation, it was revealed Benedetto had a history of gambling at Mohegan Sun Casino, losing approximately $22,039 prior to meeting the woman, the warrant stated. It was confirmed Benedetto’s casino visits became more frequent after establishing a relationship with the woman, even cashing checks from the woman’s accounts. Overall, Benedetto has gambled more than $740,000 between 2007 to 2017.

Prosecutor’s aide says she gambled with DA’s campaign funds

A longtime aide to the top prosecutor in Las Vegas blamed a gambling habit for taking nearly $42,000 from her boss’s campaign and was permitted to repay the money instead of facing criminal charges. Audrie Locke, the community liaison and spokeswoman for Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she wrote checks to herself in 2014 after taking the campaign’s checkbook from his office. Locke told the newspaper she had financial troubles at the time because of her addiction to video poker and was not well emotionally because her mother, three friends and two dogs had died. “I have a gambling problem . So there’s a lot of money issues that come with that, and that’s what happened,” she said. “The gambling spiraled. And if you talk to anybody who’s ever had a gambling problem, the first challenge that they have is recovering financially.”

Sky Bet Fined £1 Million for Failing Self-Excluded Gamblers

Online gambling company Sky Bet has accepted a £1 million ($1.4 million) fine from the UK Gambling Commission for allowing hundreds of self-excluded gamblers to continue betting, while inadvertently sending promotional texts, emails and push notifications to around 50,000 more. The fine comes just months after Sky Bet chief Richard Flint called on the betting industry to address its “image problem” and to promote safer gambling the through the advancement of self-help tools and increased intervention with customers who may be at risk. “The industry must first recognise it has an issue,” Flint told an audience at the International Casino Exhibition in February. “And I don’t just mean a PR or reputational issue. I mean a genuine, evidence-based subject that it must play its part in addressing.” But the UKGC found that 736 self-excluded Sky Bet customers had been able to open and use duplicate accounts. Thousands more who had asked to ban themselves from using Sky Bet’s betting services continued to receive marketing urging them to bet via an app, due to a segregation failure in the company’s databases. A further 36,748 did not have the balance of their funds with SkyBet returned to them upon closing their accounts.

Feds Seize $10.1M in ‘Illegal Gambling’ Money from Pojoaque Pueblo Tribe of New Mexico

The US Department of Justice on Friday filed forfeiture proceedings in a federal court to seize $10.1 million from a bank account linked to the Pojoaque Pueblo tribal gaming operator in New Mexico. The DOJ said it deemed the money to be the proceeds of illegal gambling. It’s the latest twist in the longstanding fight between the tribe and the State of New Mexico, which kicked off in 2014 when the tribe refused to sign a new compact. Its original gambling agreement, signed in 2005, gave the state an 8 percent share of gross gambling revenue and was due to expire in 2015. Negotiations over a new revenue sharing agreement broke down when the tribe accused the state government of unreasonably hiking up its cut, to 9 percent. New Mexico’s other tribal operators reluctantly agreed to these terms, but the Pojoaque Pueblos dug in their heels. The tribe argued for the right to negotiate a new compact with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, rather than the state. 

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

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A Brief Look at Crime 04/09 – 04/15

Mum-of-five stabbed to death in front of children after argument with her gambling addicted husband

A mother-of-five was stabbed to death in front of some of her children following an argument with her gambling addicted husband. Parvez Akhtar plunged a combat style knife into his 49-year-old wife’s chest on the doorstep of her home after she had asked him to leave. In a statement Adeil Akhtar, aged 26, said his mother had the “the most beautiful soul” and was a very caring person. He said her death had left him and his siblings: “Broken, hurt, confused and empty” and that they were devastated. Akhtar, 46, who admitted a charge of murdering Shaeen Akhtar was jailed for life. She worked at home as a seamstress and was described as hard working and strong willed while her husband had developed both an addiction to gambling and drinking. On occasions Akhtar, after drinking, would become aggressive and “take it out” on his wife and he also stole from her to feed his gambling addiction. She had challenged him about his gambling and drinking and this had lead to tensions in the family. On the day before the killing Akhtar stole £200 from the victim, had gone out and did not return until around 3pm the following day, October 15. They had then argued with Mrs Akhtar asking him to leave and holding the front door open which he was trying to push shut. “He then quickly pulled out a knife from the right side of his trousers and stabbed Shaeen with it to the left side of her chest, “ said Mr Price.

Oklahoma man, 34, ‘faked his own kidnapping to collect ransom from his friends’ and sent threatening demands while gambling in a Tulsa casino

An Oklahoma man is accused of faked his own kidnapping to collect ransom from his friends. Jonathon Michael Davis, of Owasso, was arrested on Thursday on charges of extortion, blackmail and false reporting of a crime after police found the alleged kidnapping victim, gambling in a Tulsa casino. The 34-year-old was reported missing yesterday after they began receiving text messages from someone claiming to be holding Davis captive, Tulsa World reports. His family, who said they hadn’t seen his since Tuesday, told police that the messages threatened to hurt Davis unless the money they were demanding was transferred into a PayPal account. Owasso police alerted the FBI and U.S. Marshals and within a few hours, by 1.30am, the Marshals had located Davis, who was unharmed, inside the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa, sitting and gambling alone. They also found the cellphone in his possession, which had sent the threatening messages. Officials believe that there never was any kidnapping and that Davis posed as his own abductor to extort money from his family and friends.

Queens casino allegedly ignored complaints from female workers who were harassed, assaulted on the job

Women working at Resorts World Casino endure harassment and physical assaults from badly behaving bettors, grabby gamblers and violent male co-workers — and it’s all because of their employer’s let-it-ride attitude, court records charge. Bartender Tuwanna (Trish) Anderson said the violence and harassment is systemic at the popular Queens racino — and she has the injuries to prove it. She filed a lawsuit against co-worker Toman Davis and the casino’s owner, Genting Group, saying Davis choked her while on the job on July 4. The chilling assault was captured on surveillance video — and even reviewed by security directors — but no one came to the rescue, her lawsuit says. “I thought he was going to kill me,” Anderson, 48, told the Daily News. “I kept saying, ‘Don’t worry. (Security) is coming.’ Why didn’t they come?” Other women on the staff had previously complained about bartender Davis’ violence and unsafe conditions for female servers in general, but nothing changed, the lawsuit says. In fact, harassment seems to be the norm at the South Ozone Park gambling mecca, according to a Sept. 8, 2016, arbitration decision connected to Jisselle Pellot, who was fired after a woman who was a customer choked her during a dispute over a phone. Pellot and two other women, both servers, testified during the arbitration proceeding that customers routinely cursed and harassed them.

Police searching for sole survivor of Jacksonville internet cafe shooting 

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is searching for the third suspect in a deadly armed robbery at an internet cafe on the Southside. Police responded to Spin City Sweepstakes around 11:30 p.m and found two suspects shot — and one person who was grazed by a bullet. One suspect died at the scene and the other was taken to a Jacksonville hospital, where he died. The victims have been identified as 28-year-old Raheem Prather and 23-year-old Raymond Dixon. Police said their investigation revealed three armed men entered the business while a fourth person remained in the suspect vehicle. Investigators said an armed security guard working for the internet café fatally shot the suspect closest to him. The second suspect was shot while trying to run out of the business. An Action News Jax investigation in November revealed that more internet cafes are popping up again despite being banned several years ago. They often have what the state considers illegal slot machines. This includes fish games and “pre-reveal” games. In a lawsuit, the Seminole Tribe claims that internet cafes “knowingly permit unlawful gambling.”

Children’s charity volunteer faces jail for embezzling more than £62,000 to fund a gambling addiction

Karen McCormack, 49, took money from South Glasgow Childcare Partnership Forum, known as South Glasgow Bookbug, on 65 different occasions during a 14-month period when she was in charge of the account. She was rumbled when another volunteer paid a cheque into the account and noticed discrepancies with a large number of payments having been withdrawn for events which had not happened. When confronted McCormack confessed: “I took the money.” At the time the charity was unsure if it would be able to continue past March this year,but has since secured funding. Procurator fiscal depute Deborah Carroll said: “The embezzlement had a significant impact on the finances of the charity. At the time of the reporting it was unclear whether the charity had the finances to continue.

4 charged with using ‘Wounded Warrior’ name to raise over $150,000 for personal profit

Cristiani of Clark County, Indiana, thought he was helping veterans. His late father had been awarded two Purple Hearts, so when Cristiani received a call from the “Wounded Warrior Fund” asking for a donation to help Indiana vets, he felt it was his duty to give. And give again. Over two years, the 69-year-old donated more than $1,000. But the money never made it to veterans, and instead is believed to have fueled the lifestyle of suspected crooks. The Wounded Warrior Project is a legitimate multimillion-dollar nonprofit organization with nationwide recognition that helps wounded, ill and injured veterans. The Wounded Warrior Fund, on the other hand, was a complete scam, federal prosecutors say. After a three-year investigation by the US Secret Service and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, four people were indicted February 28 by a federal grand jury. The case was unsealed Friday. The Justice Department publicly announced the charges Friday morning. “The acts of these fraudsters have eroded the trust and good will of those who want to contribute to legitimate fundraising organizations, including those that support our veterans,” US Attorney Josh Minkler said in a statement on Friday. “Our American veterans have dutifully served this country through many wars and deserve better than to be deprived of donations from giving donors,” Minkler said. “No veterans’ families have benefited in any way in this case, that we could find,” Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service Louisville Field Office Richard Ferretti tells CNN. “They’ve used it at casinos, they’ve used it for medical bills, they’ve written checks to each other in cash, so we can’t find a single dollar, so far, that’s gone to a veteran in this case.”

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


A Brief Look at Crime 04/02 – 04/08

William Hill fined £6.2m over problem gambling and money laundering

William Hill has been fined £6.2 million by the Gambling Commission over its “systemic” failure to protect customers from problem gambling and prevent money laundering. Senior management at William Hill failed to ensure the bookmaker’s anti-money laundering and social responsibility processes were effective, the regulator said. This resulted in 10 customers being allowed to deposit large sums of money linked to criminal offences which resulted in gains for William Hill of around £1.2m between November 2014 and August 2016, a Gambling Commission investigation has revealed. William Hill did not seek adequate information about the source of the customers’ funds or establish whether they were problem gamblers, the Commission said. Examples of William Hill’s failures identified by the Gambling Commission. A customer was allowed to deposit £654,000 over nine months withoutsource of funds checks being carried out. The customer lived inrented accommodation and earned around £30,000 per year. Another customer was allowed to deposit £541,000 over 14 months. The customer was earning around £30,000 a year and was funding his gambling habit by stealing from his employer.

Man, woman arrested in armed robbery of Las Vegas casino

Police say a man and a woman have been arrested in the gunpoint robbery of a cashier at a Las Vegas Strip-area casino. Officer Larry Hadfield said Wednesday that Tina Marie Lopez and Jason Michael Lockwood, both 36, were arrested Tuesday at an address in southeast Las Vegas. Police earlier distributed security camera photos of a woman with a gun inside and a getaway vehicle outside the South Point Casino during the late Monday robbery. No shots were fired and no one was hurt. Hadfield didn’t disclose how much was stolen. Records showed Lopez was being held on $70,000 bail and Lockwood was held on $20,000 bail pending a Friday court appearance at which each is expected to have lawyers appointed to represent them on robbery and conspiracy charges.

How a £1 bet sparked a €10m betting spree and prison for this postmaster

The shocking downfall of a Wexford postmaster who ended up in jail after stealing €1.75m from An Post during a €10m betting spree, began with a modest £1 bet on a World Cup soccer match. Tony O’Reilly ended up losing his freedom, his job and his marriage because of his uncontrollable gambling addiction that led him to increasingly devious thefts from the national postal service. Those thefts included stealing his betting money from pristine bundles of post office cash with a pair of precision pliers so they would not be missed in Gorey post office where he had risen to branch manager. Today his shocking and disturbing tale is published in LIFE magazine together with an exclusive extract from the book he has co-written with Sunday Independent columnist Declan Lynch titled Tony 10: The astonishing story of the postman who gambled €10,000,000… and lost it all.

Man tried to run over officer while fleeing casino 

Connecticut State Police say a man has been arrested after attempting to run over a police officer while fleeing the scene of an assault at a casino. The Record-Journal reports police say 22-year-old Justin Eccleston, of Meriden, Connecticut, was charged Saturday with reckless driving, second-degree reckless endangerment, engaging in police pursuit, driving under the influence and other violations. State police say Eccleston fled from tribal police who were investigating an assault at Mohegan Sun Casino. They say he attempted to run over the officer while leaving the casino. Troopers pursued Eccleston on the highway, reaching speeds of more than 100 miles per hour.

Businessman, 32, ‘who preyed on cash-strapped pension holders by promising to release their savings… 

A businessman who promised cash-strapped pension holders he could release their savings early blew £1million of their cash on gambling, holidays and supercars, a court heard. They included people unable to work through injury, a failing business owner, an ex-wife made homeless following her divorce and parents looking to renovate their home. With the help of Ray King, 54, Locke allegedly offered applicants an upfront payment equivalent to half of their pot, with the remainder invested in ‘sham’ eco-friendly firms. The Dorset-based pair are accused of creating an ‘elaborate façade’ comprising hundreds of documents to convince genuine companies, including Friends Life and Virgin Money, that they were operating a legitimate pension scheme.

Gambling addict ordered to pay a half-million dollars for embezzling from OKC business

An admitted gambling addict apologized before she was sentenced to prison for stealing nearly a half-million dollars while bookkeeping for a family business in Oklahoma City. “They trusted me with all of their business finances. … I violated their trust in many ways,” Kay Ann Locke said at her Tuesday sentencing in Oklahoma City federal court. “I want to tell them how very, very sorry I am. … When I was gambling, I was not in my right mind.” U.S. District Judge David L. Russell said he believes Locke, 52, of Edmond, is remorseful but that it’s “easy to have remorse when caught.” “I can’t overlook the number of times you did this and how long you did this,” the judge said. Locke embezzled from Delta Promotions Team Corp., a screen printing business, for about six years. The judge chose to sentence Locke to 37 months in federal prison. Locke also was ordered to pay $522,667 more in restitution, mostly to the business, which still is in operation. Locke has already paid back $30,000 to the business by selling her home. During the sentencing, the founder of the business, Tim Todd, called Locke’s actions “evil and wicked.” “Our lives have been shattered,” Todd told the judge before the punishments were announced. “This is not a person with just a gambling addiction. … She treated herself very well. This is a heartless individual.”

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


A Brief Look at Crime 03/26 – 04/01

Trusted ex-council worker siphoned £197,000 of public cash to fund his gambling habit

A former Nuneaton resident who fleeced almost £200,000 out of people in need across Warwickshire to fund a gambling habit has been jailed. Steve Ramsey, who lived in the town and worked for Warwickshire County Council, siphoned off £197,000 of precious public funds to bankroll his gambling addiction for five years. Ramsey, who was in money management and income control in the benefits assessment and income control department at Shire Hall, abused his position of trust to divert much-needed social care money into his own bank account. Newcastle Crown Court heard that the 51-year-old, who now lives in Gosforth, Newcastle, had a gambling habit – mainly on football and horse racing – and it spiralled out of control, reports the Newcastle Chronicle. The previously law-abiding citizen turned to crime and Ramsey, who pleaded guilty to fraud, has been jailed for 27 months.

Local man faces 20 years for laundering proceeds of illegal gambling 

A convicted gambling parlor operator is set to be sentenced Monday for running a string of illegal 8-liner gaming operations for nearly a decade and laundering the illegal profits. Melvin “Tiger” Askew, pleaded guilty Nov. 6, admitted he obtaining $600,000 after setting up slot and 8-liner electric gambling machine operations throughout Harris County, and then hiding his ownership of them. Askew leased the machines to others or rented properties that he knew would be used for illegal gambling. Askew was linked to gaming clubs in Channelview, Clearview, San Leon and Galveston between 2003 and 2012, according to court documents. He set up the operations under the names of employees, using machines that paid out cash on the spot. Askew then made cash deposits on regular basis and then withdrew cash proceeds to buy a home in Baytown and a commercial property in Channelview, according to his plea. He failed to keep payroll records for his employees, attempting to keep operation off the radar of officials. U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes can sentence Askew up to a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 at his sentencing hearing.

Homeless gambling and drug addict swindled £51,000 from pensioner who took him in

A gambling and cocaine addict who swindled £51,181 from a widower in Runcorn has been jailed. Jason Drury, 46, had befriended Robert Ian Jones, 62, who agreed to take him in as a lodger after Drury and his girlfriend split up. But Liverpool crown court heard how Drury betrayed him by “using his bank accounts as his own”. Matthew Dunford, prosecuting, described how he used Mr Jones’s bank card to withdraw cash and make payments as well as taking him to cash points to withdraw money, having “threatened he would hit him unless he gave him money.” Drury also admitted stealing a CCTV system to sell at Cash Converters for £100 and a Vauxhall Vectra to sell. He also took Mr Jones’s BMW M3, described as the victim’s ‘pride and joy’, out for a drive but never brought it back. The vehicle was only found after police started their investigations. Devious Drury tried to cover up the thefts from his victim’s bank account by stealing his own parents’ chequebook for what were ultimately failed attempts to make payments into Mr Jones’s account.

Judge sentences woman to jail for embezzling from Petoskey Little League

A judge has sentenced a Petoskey woman to jail for embezzling more than $80,000 dollars from the Petoskey Little League organization over a five-year period. Gray told authorities that her embezzlement was tied to a gambling addiction through which records show that she lost more than $200,000 at the Odawa Casino since 2005. According to a Michigan State Police affidavit filed in the case, on June 10, 2017 officials with the Petoskey Little League organization came to police with concerns that Gray, who had been the organization’s board treasurer for about five years had been making unauthorized withdrawals from the organization’s bank account. Police said Gray took the money through a combination of checks written to cash, ATM withdrawals from the organization’s account and cash from concessions and other receipts that she simply pocketed. Check back later for more on Tuesday’s sentencing hearing or see Wednesday’s print edition of the News-Review.

Man, 37, fatally shot by security guard at California casino

Authorities say a 37-year-old man was fatally shot during an altercation with a security guard at a Southern California casino. Santa Barbara sheriff’s officials say deputies were called to the Chumash casino in Santa Ynez early Tuesday morning after a report two security guards were in an altercation with a man. Investigators say the man was fatally shot by one of the guards near a parking garage at the casino and resort and declared dead at the scene. Coroner’s officials later identified him as Jose Guido of Santa Barbara. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday. Authorities wouldn’t immediately identify the security guard. Veronica Sandoval, a spokeswoman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, said the tribe — which runs the casino — wouldn’t comment on an ongoing investigation.

Frisco man indicted on fraud is back in jail after online bets on the ponies totaling more than $175,000

A Frisco man already indicted in a $60 million Medicaid fraud scheme is back in jail after authorities say he placed illegal online bets for horse races. Bradley Harris, 36, spent more than $175,000 last year gambling online, which is illegal in Texas, according to testimony at a hearing Tuesday. U. S. Magistrate Judge Irma Ramirez ruled that Harris must now remain in jail until his trial on the Medicaid fraud charges. A trial date has not been set in that fraud case, in which Harris’ 43-year-old wife, Amy, is also charged. Bradley Harris had been free since a detention hearing last year in which the judge ordered his release provided he abide by a host of conditions. One was that he not violate federal, state or local law. The new charges: The couple was arrested Friday at their Frisco home. In addition to the illegal gambling accusations, federal prosecutors had also alleged that Harris and his wife engaged in bank fraud by securing a $50,000 business line of credit that was then spent on illegal gambling.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 03/19 – 03/25

Man fatally shot in head at gambling party

Detroit police are investigating after an unidentified man was found fatally shot in the head and left face-up in the street early Sunday morning on the city’s west side. Police say the shooting took place outside of a gambling party. The homicide took place about 12:10 a.m. on the 14300 block of Sussex, which is north of Grand River and east of Greenfield. The victim, a black male believed to be in his 20s, was wearing a black jacket, gray sweatpants, and black Michael Jordan gym shoes. Police are looking for as many as five suspects, who drove in a gold or creme Chevy Tahoe SUV At least one was armed with a handgun, police say.

Suspect had 60 roosters, cockfighting equipment, drugs, NY authorities say

A man was arrested near New York City on Friday after authorities found him in possession of at least 60 roosters, an injured pit bull, cockfighting equipment and drugs, authorities said. Authorities said they found cocaine and marijuana, in addition to money and drug-packaging materials. In their search of a second location, authorities discovered the birds and cockfighting equipment, at which point the Suffolk County SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was called to the scene, Chief Roy Gross said. Authorities seized more than 60 roosters that appeared to have been trained to fight, as well as “fighting paraphernalia” and a fighting ring, an SPCA news release said. The seized equipment included razor blade-like spurs that are attached to the roosters when they fight and “little boxing gloves” that protect the birds when they train, Gross told the Associated Press. “The call it a blood sport,” Gross told the AP. Spectators “want to see the birds cutting each other, seeing the blood, and generally they bleed out. It’s barbaric. They generally fight to the death,” he said.

Man shot and killed at Grant Travel Plaza

According to law enforcement, a Texas man was shot dead Sunday night at the travel plaza of the Choctaw Casino Resort. A confrontation between a patron an two security officers turned deadly when the man pointed his gun at the officers and they returned fire. Tribal security and the FBI are investigating the incident. John Hobbs, Executive Director of Public Safety of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma released a statement on Monday:

“Choctaw Tribal Police and the FBI are currently investigating a shooting that occurred at approximately10:30 p.m. Sunday evening at the Choctaw Travel Plaza in Grant, Okla. “An employee requested security support with an individual who was causing a disturbance. When an officer approached the individual, the individual pulled a gun and threatened the officer. The individual turned and walked away, continuing to brandish the gun. “At this time, a second officer arrived on site. The officers ordered the individual to drop the gun, and the individual turned and pointed the gun at the officers. The officers opened fire and the individual was killed.

Former insurance brokerage company CFO sentenced to prison

The former chief financial officer of Market Finders Insurance Corporation has been sentenced in federal court to 37 months in prison. The former CFO,*Sylvia Rebecca Smith*, agreed to pay $674,093 in restitution, for committing tax evasion and embezzlement. Smith admitted in a plea agreement that, from July 2013 through April 2015, while employed as CFO of Market Finders, she generated fraudulent loan checks from her employer and diverted them into the bank account of PBS. Specifically, Smith devised a scheme to embezzle funds from Market Finders and Market Finders Insurance Premium Budget Corp., a subsidiary of Market Finders, by creating fraudulent insurance financing contracts between Market Finders Premium Budget and existing insurance clients of PBS Insurance without the knowledge of those existing clients. Smith admitted to manipulating the records so that her theft of funds would not be detected by her employer. Smith admitted that she and her husband used a portion of the fraudulent loan proceeds to fund her husband’s business and to pay for personal expenses for herself and her husband and to pay for gambling activity.

Gambling Addicted Trader Charged With Stealing $2 Million in Bitcoin

24-year-old Joseph Kim claims he intended to return approximately $2 million worth of Bitcoin after covering his own trading losses. He was found out before that could ever come to fruition. The Chicago-based trader, working at Consolidated Trading LLC, was charged Thursday by the United States’ federal government with wire fraud for the theft of $2.06 million in Bitcoin and Litecoin from his employer. Kim, described by one of his co-workers as a “degenerate gambler”, becomes the first person in Chicago history to be charged with a crime tied to the cryptocurrency trading industry. The thefts occurred over a two-month period last year during which time Kim served on the firm’s newly-formed crypto trading group. Kim stole as much as $3.2 million worth of Bitcoin and Litecoin but did return some $1.2 million prior to the theft being discovered. The trader was believed to have used a portion of the stolen funds for gambling purposes.

Frisco man indicted on fraud is back in jail after online bets on the ponies totaling more than $175,000

A Frisco man already indicted in a $60 million Medicaid fraud scheme is back in jail after authorities say he placed illegal online bets for horse races. Bradley Harris, 36, spent more than $175,000 last year gambling online, which is illegal in Texas, according to testimony at a hearing Tuesday. The couple was arrested Friday at their Frisco home. In addition to the illegal gambling accusations, federal prosecutors had also alleged that Harris and his wife engaged in bank fraud by securing a $50,000 business line of credit that was then spent on illegal gambling. But while Ramirez said that the Harrises’ actions looked “suspect,” she determined there was not enough probable cause to find that bank fraud had occurred.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 03/12 – 03/18

Man shot dead by police was distressed gambling addict

A man shot by police while waving a two by four on a Vancouver street in 2014 was arrested months before outside a Richmond casino for kicking down garbage cans and displaying homicidal thoughts, a British Columbia coroner’s inquest into the death heard Monday. Tony Du was a “gentle giant” most of the time, but he was also a gambling addict who was banned by Lower Mainland casinos. He still found his way in to lose money, however, prompting stress and anger that added to his chronic schizophrenia, the court heard. “He had lost all of his money, he was angry, he spent quite excessively and he felt guilty that his mother was taking care of him rather than the other way around,” said his psychiatrist, Dr. Soma Ganesan. Du told police at the time of the Richmond incident that he had stopped taking psychiatric medications and was brought to local hospital, the inquest heard, but a report of that incident never made its way to his primary care physician. “Taken by police because he was outside the casino kicking over garbage cans,” Vancouver lawyer Karen Liang read from the record of the incident from July 4, 2014. “Screaming he wanted to kill someone. Police reported incoherent speech, that he said he lived in the sky. He told police he stopped taking psychiatric medications,” she read.

Oroville man accused of threatening casino mass shooting

Deputies arrested an Oroville man Tuesday on charges of threatening a mass shooting and suicide at a casino, according to the Butte County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office said the man, Wade Burnside, 26, sent text messages to a person indicating the shooting would happen before 11 p.m. Tuesday. Deputies learned Burnside had earlier met the person at Gold Country Casino and Hotel in Oroville. The investigation began Tuesday when Yuba City police received a call from a person reporting they had received threatening text messages, according to a news release. Police passed information to the local Sheriff’s Office after learning the person who called police met the suspect at Gold Country Casino.

Norfolk man gets prison after admitting to construction scam

A Norfolk man has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud related to a construction scam. The Lincoln Journal Star reports 47-year-old Bradley Leffers was sentenced Wednesday to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution of $712,066. He also must serve three years of supervised release. Leffers pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, and in exchange federal prosecutors dismissed six other counts. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says in 2013 and 2014, Leffers took money from 17 farmers and ranchers with the promise of building metal structures on their property. He took partial payment but didn’t get material or begin construction. Most of the victims were in northeast Nebraska. Leffers lawyer says he got into financial problems and then tried gambling in hopes of hitting it big and repaying his debts.

Former bingo owners guilty of defrauding charities

Larry and Dixie Masino, the former owners of Racetrack Bingo in Fort Walton Beach, were convicted late Wednesday of operating an illegal gambling business and defrauding 10 local charities. A U.S. District Court jury in Pensacola convicted Larry Masino on one count of operating the illegal business, one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiring to commit money laundering and 18 counts of money laundering. Dixie Masino was convicted along with her ex-husband of operating an illegal gambling business and the two conspiracy charges. However, she was found guilty of 20 counts of money laundering. The indictment stated Larry and Dixie Masino worked together to steal about $5.8 million from the charities between 2006 and 2015. They did so, the indictment charged, by charging exorbitant rents and fees for the use of their bingo hall. The ill-gotten gain was laundered through profit distribution checks that went to the Masinos and their three children as shareholders of Racetrack Bingo, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Agent in FBI probe into corruption in college basketball accused of misconduct

An undercover FBI agent who played a key role in the investigation into corruption within college basketball has been accused of misusing government money on gambling, food and drinks. According to the Wall Street Journal. the agent played a key role in setting up a number of the coaches who were arrested when news broke of the bribery and corruption scheme last September. Beginning in spring 2017, the agent spent months undercover, however shortly after an undercover meeting in late July 2017, the agent abruptly appeared to stop working on the operation. The absence of the agent was reportedly explained to those involved as an overseas trip, however the Justice Department opened an inquiry into the agent’s behavior at some time last year. If found culpable, the agent’s ability to be a witness in the cases he was part of — including the college basketball case — could be in peril. The undercover agent in question reportedly posed as a business partner of Marty Blazer, the FBI’s cooperating witness in the case, to make coaches believe he was helping funnel money to them in exchange for the business the coaches would bring in after their players turned pro.

Gambling-Obsessed Nanny is sentenced to death after killing mother and her three children

A gambling-obsessed nanny who lost £6,800 in one night was sentenced to death today after setting her employer’s flat on fire during her desperate attempt to find money for her debts, according to a Chinese court. The blaze caused a mother and all of her three children – aged between six and 11 – to be killed last June at their 17th floor home in eastern China. The court said the former nanny, named Mo Huanjing, had intended to set the fire then put it out, hoping her ‘brave act’ could win her middle-class employer’s gratitude. This way, she could expect them to lend money to her. However, the fire went out of control killing the family of four during the wee hours at their four-bedroom home in Hangzhou, a bustling metropolis. The children’s father was reportedly on a business trip, hence survived the tragedy. The nanny managed to escape the fire. The court claimed that Ms Mo was addicted to online gambling games and had been buried under debts. She lost £6,800 after gambling online from the night of June 21 into the early hours of June 22 – right before she decided to set the flat on fire – said the court.

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A Brief Look at Crime 02/26 – 03/04

Hamburg man gets prison time for $7.7 million fraud

Christopher F. Venti says he was simply trying to help his family and, along the way, made a very big mistake. A mistake that resulted in three separate fraudulent investment schemes and a $7.7 million loss to the victims, here and across the world, who trusted the former Hamburg man. Venti, 49, now a Florida resident, was sentenced Tuesday to 46 months in federal prison for his role in the schemes. “Bottom line, you may not be an evil person, but what you did was evil,” said U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford. Wolford also ordered Venti to pay $1.6 in restitution to the victims, many of whom are unknown, and $216,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. Venti also admitted withdrawing $148,000 in investor funds while at three local casinos. He eventually pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion charges.

CVS employee stole winning $1 million lottery ticket

An Illinois man is claiming that a CVS employee stole his winning $1 million scratch-off lottery card after being “coerced” inside the store. Carlos Figueroa said in a lawsuit filed last week in Cook County Circuit Court that he bought the “Merry Millionaire” ticket on Oct. 30 at a CVS in Waukegan, but it came out cut in half due to a machine malfunction. Figueroa says he was then “coerced” by a store employee into handing over half of the ticket under the intention that it would be checked to see if it was a winner, the Lake County News-Sun reported. About 20 minutes later, according to the lawsuit, the worker gave Figueroa half of a different lottery ticket back – one that was not a winner – despite his protests to be handed the original ticket.

Priest gets 8 months in prison for embezzling $500,000

The rector of a retirement home for Roman Catholic priests who was convicted of embezzling a half-million dollars has been sentenced to eight months in federal prison. Authorities say Monsignor William Dombrow spent the stolen funds on casino visits, expensive dinners and concerts. At his sentencing Wednesday, Dombrow acknowledged committing a “serious crime” and said he would accept the judge’s decision. Dombrow’s attorney says the priest was sometimes accompanied on those outings by residents of Villa St. Joseph. The Philadelphia Archdiocese runs the facility in Darby to house aging priests and treat those accused of sexual abuse.

Ex-PSD employee gets home incarceration for embezzling quarter million dollars

The former office clerk/secretary for the Enlarged Hepzibah Public Service District was sentenced to home incarceration Thursday for an embezzlement of about $257,000 that the state said resulted in a rate hike for consumers. Harrison Chief Judge James A. Matish ordered [the employee], 64, of Spelter, to pay at least $200 a month in restitution; to obtain another job to supplement her Social Security/private pension income; and also ruled she must obtain outpatient mental health counseling for her gambling addiction. [She] previously told the court that she gradually became addicted to gambling on video lottery machines, leading to the theft of money. “When you start something like that, it gets ahead of you. It gets ahead of you. I’m sorry,” [she] said at her plea hearing. In Metz’s mind, she believed she stole about $50,000 or $60,000 over time, but she allowed at her plea hearing that she couldn’t be sure. On Wednesday, Dyer said they couldn’t, and wouldn’t, dispute the amount of about $257,000.

FBI: NC Man Pleads Guilty in Multi-State Dog Fighting Ring

Brexton Redell Lloyd, 54, of Eagle Springs, North Carolina, pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy and two felony counts of possession and training a dog intended for use in an animal fighting venture, contrary to the animal fighting provisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act. “Organized crime has no place in North Carolina or the United States – and dog fighting of this sort is nothing short of organized crime,” said United States Attorney Martin. “Our law enforcement partners at the Department of Agriculture, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Moore County Sheriff’s Office, and the N.C. State Highway Patrol demonstrated exceptional coordination in bringing this defendant to justice.” “Today’s sentence sends a message that our justice system will not tolerate the torment and death of animals in the fighting ring, all for the sake of illegal gambling.”

Sandy man accused of embezzling $1 million from employer gets 6 years in prison

A Sandy man accused of embezzling more than $1 million from his employer has been sentenced to spend six years in a federal prison. Though Strong claimed he was funneling legitimate purchases through Grand Design in order to save his employer money, forensic accountants found no evidence any of the money was used for legitimate business reasons, according to the memorandum. Prosecutors also alleged Strong has a $700,000 share in an illegal gambling business called Paradise Gaming, but didn’t provide additional details about the endeavor. Tax evasion and money laundering are also suspected in connection with the gambling. 

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