Category Archives: Crime

A Brief Look at Crime 10/08 -10/14

Man found dead in creek ID’d as witness in casino fraud case

The body recovered from Mill Creek on Saturday has been identified as a Shavertown man who was a key witness in a fraud and theft case at Mohegan Sun Pocono casino. Matthew Crane, 28, was the man whose body was found floating in the creek at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Dan Hughes, Luzerne County’s chief deputy coroner. Three people walking by spotted Crane’s body in the creek, near a bridge that separates Mayock Street in Wilkes-Barre from Oak Street in Plains Twp. One member of the group said the dead man appeared to have a wound to his head. Crane, while working as a table dealer at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 2015, informed authorities about a scheme to defraud the casino of hundreds of thousands of dollars through free slots play with the use of duplicated player cards and personal information numbers, according to court records. Police in January 2016 charged Robert Pellegrini, a former casino vice president, and Mark Heltzel, a frequent casino patron, with theft and related charges in connection with the scheme. At the time he reported the scheme, Crane was romantically involved with Rochelle Poszeluznyj, a beverage server at the casino who conspired with Pellegrini and Heltzel and was also charged, according to a police affidavit. Crane’s body was recovered about 2 miles downstream from the casino, according to online mapping applications.

Nevada regulators reject deal with sports books operator 

Nevada gambling regulators rejected a proposed settlement on Thursday with a troubled sports books operator, which admitted to taking unlawful bets and making inaccurate payouts, and suggested revoking the company’s license. The Nevada Gaming Commission deemed the suggested $250,000 fine against CG Technology too low when compared with the multi-million-dollar fines previously paid by the company. With the company’s CEO present during a public meeting, commission members chastised the operator for its persistent regulatory troubles. “Basically, you’ve been called into the principal’s office three times, and each time, it’s maybe a little bit different but a lot of it is repeat issues,” commissioner Deborah Fuetsch said. “And you’ve been given the opportunity to make the business right, and that hasn’t happened. And because you can’t get your business in order, you are damaging the reputation of the gaming industry of the state and the integrity of the game.” The company paid fines of $5.5 million in 2014 and $1.5 million in 2016 to settle disciplinary actions. The first fine is the largest settlement penalty in state history. CG Technology is now facing a four-count complaint after the company reported a number of issues to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The operator told regulators it had accepted wagers on its mobile app from customers outside Nevada; underpaid or overpaid customers; took wagers on college football games that had ended already; and incorrectly set up a satellite sports betting station at a Super Bowl party this year that had a different point spread and total over-under than what other patrons were offered.

Gambler gets seven years for defrauding company

A 51-year-old Shelby Township man who stole nearly $4 million in a Ponzi scheme was sentenced to seven years in prison for a separate theft of about $150,000 from a local business. Gino Accettola was ordered to serve 84 months to 20 years behind bars after pleading no contest to embezzlement over $100,000 in Macomb County Circuit Court for stealing from a Clinton Township credit-card processing company owned by a friend. “Your record says you are a thief,” Judge Jennifer Faunce told Accettola. “You involve yourself in schemes that cause people to lose out.” Accettola in January 2017 was ordered to repay $12 million to 11 plaintiffs in default judgments in civil court after being accused in a lawsuit of stealing $3.8 million. Accettola represented to his victims that their funds were investments for construction projects didn’t exist, according to the lawsuit. Accettola lost approximately $1.5 million gambling at MGM Grand Detroit casino, most of it in 2014 and 2015, and lived a lavish lifestyle, according to another lawsuit.

‘Gambling condition’ uncovered in law-firm embezzlement case

A Racine woman, indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this month for reportedly embezzling more than $775,000 from her now-deceased father’s Racine law firm, likely has a gambling problem, according to documents filed after her arraignment Wednesday. During Kathleen A. Fetek’s arraignment on Wednesday, she pleaded not guilty to the charge of mail fraud. Documents state that evidence in the case against Fetek includes thousands of pages of law firm records bank accounts, as well as records from Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. The document goes on to point out that Fetek “has recorded extensive losses at the casino.” According to Fetek’s order for release, she is prohibited from visiting any gambling establishments or participating in online gambling.

More Than 1,500 Animals Seized In Dog And Cockfighting Operations At A Wisconsin Home

Police seized 20 pit bulls and about 1,500 hens and roosters, many of which were destined for fighting, from a home in western Wisconsin. The dogs and birds were “living in deplorable conditions,” according to a joint statement issued Thursday by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “You could tell they were used for fighting,” Sheriff Nancy Hove told NPR. Officers found the dogs with scars and injuries. They were attached to heavy chains, “almost logging chains.” The roosters’ feet were cut, indicating razor blades had been attached to their feet, Hove said. Agents also found a square, wooden box – a fighting ring set up in one of the barns. Hove said the magnitude of the discovery was uncommon in their county, at least in the 35 years she has been in law enforcement. About a year ago, her agents seized some 50 dogs. “This is the second large-scale animal cruelty case we have encountered in the past two years,” she said.

Casino worker charged in nearly $200K theft

n Alabama casino worker is charged in the theft of nearly $200,000 that authorities say was taken from the gambling operation. The Montgomery Advertiser reports Courtney Deandrea Stanton has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and theft charges from the Wind Creek Montgomery casino. Stanton is charged in federal court since the alleged theft occurred at a tribal casino operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Evidence shows Stanton is accused of checking out keys to a cash kiosk and then leaving them atop the machine after speaking to someone. Timothy Dean Pettiway was previously charged with stealing almost $200,000 in cash from the casino last month. Pettiway pleaded not guilty on Monday. A federal prosecutor says none of the missing cash has been recovered.

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

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A Brief Look at Crime 10/01 – 10/07

Judge sentences ‘pariah’ of Pawnee in embezzlement scheme that forced longtime business there to close

A woman dubbed a “pariah” in her hometown of Pawnee was sentenced to prison Friday in connection with the embezzlement of nearly $400,000 from her former workplace, which has since closed. A federal judge sentenced Krystal K. Smith, 45, to 18 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to bank fraud and false income tax return charges. Smith, in a May 15 plea agreement with federal prosecutors, admitted to embezzling $385,999 from Columbia Metal Products Co., where she worked as an office manager. The Kansas City, Missouri-based company, which did business under the name Columbia Windows and Doors, had a presence in Pawnee for more than 30 years, Oklahoma Secretary of State records indicate. Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McLoughlin told U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan during the Friday sentencing hearing that Smith’s actions, which began in 2009, caused a “ripple effect” across the community when the company officers discovered the scheme in 2016. “The company had to close its plant in Pawnee because of what happened,” McLoughlin said. Smith attributed her addiction to casino gambling for both the bankrupting of her family and the embezzlement of the company funds. For about the past 10 years, Smith’s gambling has been “completely out of control” with her gambling on a daily basis at the height of her addiction, according to the memo.

Police save baby from hot car outside RI casino; mother arrested

The mother of a 3-month-old girl was arrested for cruelty or neglect of a child after police found the baby in a hot car in a casino parking lot. Police say 26-year-old Halston Borglund left her daughter alone inside a car, covered by a blanket in the backseat, Wednesday morning. The driver’s window was down, and the car was running, according to an officer working security at the Twin River Casino, outside of which the baby was found. “I’m just curious why other people didn’t see that. I mean, people walk by – or even the car next to them, just look,” resident Janet Short said. The baby girl was taken to the hospital, where she is listed in fair condition. She is now in the custody of authorities. Police say Borglund told them she ran into the casino to grab her keys, but investigators later discovered she was inside for more than an hour and a half. “It’s crazy. You should never trade gambling for the life of some kids,” said casino visitor John Ferreira. Borglund has a criminal history that includes arrests for felony breaking and entering, identity fraud and felony larceny.

961,897 reasons Wichita lawyer is charged with taking from client

A Wichita lawyer told an FBI agent that he was a compulsive gambler being treated for addiction — who used some of his elderly client’s trust money for his gambling. And he used the money for a lot more than gambling and luxury cars, according to an affidavit filed in the criminal case against the lawyer, Larry Toomey. In all, Toomey took $961,897.25 from the woman’s accounts and spent it in ways that didn’t benefit his client, the affidavit says. The woman, identified only by her initials, is now 103 and living in a Wichita nursing home. The affidavit — a court document signed by an investigator and detailing why someone was arrested and charged — was released Wednesday after The Eagle requested it from Sedgwick County District Court. “Some notable transactions” from the one bank account included “gambling transactions for a total of $395,826.” When it was all over, the affidavit said, Toomey had violated his professional responsibilities and the Kansas Uniform Trust Code for seven years, until this past March. The investigators suspected, the affidavit says, that “the crime was concealed by the fact that Toomey didn’t keep a beneficiary” informed of expenditures from the trust.

Gambling ringleader dubbed herself the ‘LeBron James of poker’

The manager of an illicit West Village gambling speakeasy pompously described herself as “the LeBron James of poker,” prosecutors revealed Wednesday. Geeta Singh was captured on wiretap uttering the superlative, ADA Mark Mohr said Wednesday at her Manhattan Supreme Court arraignment, where she pleaded not guilty to six counts of promoting gambling. She was busted last week along with 32 others for allegedly participating in a large-scale drug and gambling ring, according to the city’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor. Mohr described Singh as a lead promoter of the “private” poker club operated out of an apartment at 446 Avenue of the Americas. Singh, who hails from India, used the online service “Meetup” to bring in clients and ran the tables, which required a minimum of $200 to play, the prosecutor said. The operation also peddled cocaine and heroin out of a separate apartment at 536 East Fifth Street. Singh and her three partners raked in $200,000 each a year from the drug and gambling enterprise, Mohr said.

Men Arrested After Nearly $200,000 Stolen From Casino 

Two men have been arrested on charges of stealing nearly $200,000 from an Indian casino in Montgomery. Federal court records show that Timothy Dean Pettiway and Jory D’Michael Trayvunn Dumas were arrested Tuesday on theft charges in the Aug. 10 heist at Wind Creek casino. However, court records show prosecutors are seeking to dismiss Dumas from the complaint. An FBI agent wrote in charging documents that $192,800 was missing from two customer kiosks near the casino floor. The agent said surveillance video showed that a casino employee, who was not charged, had left keys on top of a machine that had been malfunctioning. The agent said the video showed Pettiway kneeling in front of the kiosk holding a money cassette.

INTERPOL-Led Operation Busts Thousands of Illegal World Cup Gambling Dens across Asia

An INTERPOL-led operation during the 2018 World Cup invovled *thousands of raids being carried out* across the Asia-Pacific region and suspects being arrested on illegal gambling charges, the organization said in a Friday press release. The seventh installment of operation SOGA (short for soccer gambling) was conducted in the period between June 22 and July 16, or over the course of the major football championship. Coordinated by INTERPOL’s Organized and Emerging Crime Directorate and involving local police departments, *SOGA VII saw 14,900 raids at what appeared to be illegal gambling dens* be carried out. The illegal gambling operations were estimated to have handled more than $1.6 billion worth of bets ahead of and during this year’s World Cup. Raids took place across China, including Macau and Hong Kong, as well as Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. During the nearly month-long operation, police seized more than 1,000 computers, mobile phones, and other equipment allegedly used for the provision of illegal gambling services as well as *more than $1.7 million in cash*. INTERPOL said Friday that the equipment seized is being analyzed to help police authorities in future operations and assist current investigations.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 9/24-9/30

Man arrested, accused of killing teen during gamblers’ fight in Atlanta

A man accused of fatally shooting a teenager during an argument while gambling was arrested, Atlanta police confirmed. Andrew Dontavious Glass remained in the Fulton County jail Wednesday on murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery charges in the July 14 shooting in the 1200 block of Elizabeth Avenue in southwest Atlanta, police said. He was arrested Thursday. Authorities said they found the teen — identified by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office as Stacey Monts, 17, of East Point —in the kitchen dead from a gunshot wound. A man was found in the living with a gunshot wound to the buttocks. A second man who was shot was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. Police have not released the identities of the injured man.

He helped a man gamble. It grew deadly when he asked for some of the cash, police say

A fatal stabbing in Illinois on Thursday might have started as an argument over gambling — and more specifically, $20, police say. Ray James, 48, was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree murder after police say he stabbed and killed 24-year-old Cody L. Drew late Thursday in the city of Decatur, according to the Herald-Review. James stabbed Drew “multiple” times, police allege. After his death was announced, the restaurant that employed Drew sent out a Facebook status revealing that it “lost one of its servers last night to senseless violence.”  “Cody Drew was an outstanding employee and remarkable young man. He lived an eventful life and squeezed every bit of enjoyment from each moment he lived,” it read. “I can still hear the joyous sound of his voice as he called out to the kitchen, ‘Yea, boy!’ Or ‘What’s gooood?.’” Police documents say that James had originally helped Drew as the 24-year-old played an electronic poker game, according to WANDTV. Drew won $150 after taking the advice, a witness told police, but he refused to give a portion of his winnings to James.

Nevada Sports Book Operator Accepted Online Bets From Gamblers Outside Of State 

A top Nevada sports book operator is in hot water once again with regulators, and this time it will have to dismantle its systems used to facilitate wagers. According to a complaint and settlement posted last week to the Gaming Control Board’s website, CG Technology, formerly known as Cantor Gaming, has admitted to accepting online-based wagers from gamblers across the country, which was in violation of Nevada casino regulations. State officials said the company self-reported the betting activity. The result is a $250,000 fine, as well as the firm being ordered to cease using its own technology and equipment. CGT can remain in business, but it must now use a third party tech and equipment manufacturer. Within six months, “CGT shall permanently discontinue the use of its sports pool wagering system and all of its components,” the GCB said.

Trappe man admits to thefts linked to ‘gambling problem’

A Trappe man faces jail time and a hefty restitution bill after he admitted to defrauding an online gambling site and banks to the tune of more than $140,000 during a bad check scheme. Saurabh Sood, 38, of the 100 block of Royer Drive, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to six to 23 months in the county jail after he pleaded guilty to felony charges of theft by deception false impression in connection with incidents that occurred in 2016. Judge Garrett D. Page also ordered Sood to complete three years’ probation following parole, meaning Sood will be under court supervision for about five years. Sood also must pay a total of $140,455 in restitution in connection with the case. The judge said Sood is eligible for the work release program during his incarceration. Investigators alleged Sood opened a checking account with a Berks County credit union in June 2016 and subsequently “started to write and pass checks against the account without making any deposits into the account to cover the amount of the checks that were written,” according to the criminal complaint. The account was closed in July 2016.

Robbery, Shooting At Possible Illegal Gambling Operation Leaves 2 Dead 

Two people are dead, and another is hospitalized, following a robbery and shooting at a possible illegal gambling operation in Detroit. It happened early Tuesday morning at a home on Andover Street off E. State Fair, between John R and I-75 just south of 8 Mile Road. One man, 30- to 35-years-old, was shot in the stomach and went into cardiac arrest. First responders attempted CPR but the man died on the scene. Another man, 55-years-old, was shot in the ankle and taken to the hospital. A third man who was not shot but was trying to escape the scene collapsed in a nearby yard. He was taken to the hospital where he was dead on arrival. It’s believed he suffered a heart attack.

Purported ‘made man’ from Staten Island sentenced in mob gambling and racketeering case 

Staten Island man who authorities said helped run a mob family’s racketeering and gambling operations is $125,000 in the hole after a federal judge ordered him to forfeit that amount of cash to the government. The forfeiture was part of Steven Pastore’s sentence, which also included two years in prison and two years’ supervised release, authorities said. In February, the defendant pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to racketeering conspiracy. Two years earlier, in May 2016, Pastore was among 18 suspects charged with racketeering activities allegedly carried out by the Genovese organized crime family. Pastore, a “made” member and soldier in the family, conspired with others from 2008 through the spring of 2016 to participate in the Genovese’s criminal affairs, said Manhattan federal prosecutors. Pastore was charged with racketeering conspiracy and participating in an illegal gambling business, authorities said. Prosecutors said wire taps showed Pastore had been in the gambling business for years.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 09/17 – 09/23

Former Rapides DA bookkeeper sentenced to prison after thefts

Margaurette Beard suffers from a gambling addiction and, when the urge to roll the dice hit, she’d reach into a desk drawer, scoop out some cash and go to a casino. The trouble is, the cash she used didn’t belong to her. On Tuesday, the former Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office bookkeeper was sentenced to 37 months — three years and a month — in federal prison for stealing more than $1.6 million from the office. She pleaded guilty in late March to one count of misuse of federal funds. Charges against her in the 9th Judicial District Court are still pending, as is a civil lawsuit. Beard tearfully apologized to the court before U.S. Judge Dee Drell sentenced her. She also apologized her to family, friends and the community “for all the wrong I’ve done.” Higgins argued before Drell that Beard’s scheme was not sophisticated, although the government disagreed. Higgins said Beard stole solely to feed her gambling addiction.

Thai Police Arrest 4,700, Seize $35M During Illegal World Cup Gaming

Thailand has a large gambling problem. Currently, there are only two forms of gaming allowed– horse racing and the Thai lottery. However, there are many different types of gaming that exist all over the country. For example, illegal casinos are predominantly in Bangkok and cater to the tourist trade. Thailand is trying to crack down on illegal gambling in the country because the government does not profit from it, and the leadership in Thailand considers gambling to be a vice. However, the most recent and largest problem has been with the use of illegal online gaming and sportsbooks. The Thai police have been focused on sportsbooks in the last month because of the World Cup, which represented the largest amount of money spent on sports gaming in the country in the last three years. The largest and most recent raid by the Thai police on illegal sportsbooks resulted in the arrest of 4,700 people. The police initially seized $200,000 baht in the raid. However, in their research into the activities of the sportsbook, the police found 147 bank accounts tied to the sportsbook that had deposits of more than $35 million. The police think that some of the money was being laundered by the sportsbooks for drug cartels in Asia.The Thai police have shown they are serious about cracking down on illegal sportsbooks.

Minutes after leaving St. Louis casino with two men, California man is found fatally shot

Two men were charged Thursday with murder in the shooting of a man from California who they were seen leaving a casino with and then turned up fatally shot and only partially clothed minutes later, court documents say. The Hayward, Calif., man was found dead early Monday after an automated gunfire-detection system picked up the sound of shots in the O’Fallon neighborhood. His body, clad in only underwear and socks, was near a vacant home in the 4400 block of Athlone Avenue. He had been shot multiple times. Court documents say security video from Lumiere Casino in downtown St. Louis showed Owen was there for several hours early Monday. At about 5 a.m., he cashed out about $400 in winnings and left in a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu with Steed and Lathon. At 5:23 a.m., the “Shot Spotter” alerted police to gunfire and Owen’s body was soon found. Two days later, Lathon, 26, was spotted driving the Malibu, the court documents say. A gun was found in the car. Lathon told a detective that he had left the casino with Owen but was paid $40 to drop him off somewhere.

Bookkeeper who defrauded Chicago film studio of $1.6M gets four years in prison

Margarita Shabazz admitted last fall that she bilked her employers — a Chicago video production company and an advertising agency — out of more than $2 million. After she bonded out of jail, she got a new job — and she stole some more, according to federal prosecutors. “You’re really good at gaming the system,” U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis told Shabazz before sentencing her to four years in prison Friday afternoon at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. “You seem to have this impulsive desire to see how far you can get away with things.” It started in 2009 while Shabazz was working as a bookkeeper for the ad agency. For two years, Shabazz cut 39 company checks to herself or her own companies, recording them as payments to vendors while she raked in nearly $350,000. The scheme netted her more than $2 million that she used to fund a glamorous lifestyle for herself, her husband and two children, prosecutors said. About a third of that — $550,000 — funded drug and gambling habits, according to prosecutors.

Fayetteville man guilty of gun crimes planned to prostitute woman for gambling loss

A Fayetteville man who planned to prostitute his girlfriend to offset his gambling losses was sentenced Tuesday for two firearm violations last year, the federal officials said. In May, Joseph Luther Lewis, 29, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a stolen firearm. He was sentenced to 12.8 years of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release, according to a news release from the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The firearm charges stemmed from an incident on June 25, 2017, when Lewis’ girlfriend told officials she was being blamed by Lewis for his gambling loss. “Lewis, armed with a handgun, traveled from Fayetteville to Robeson County and forcibly abducted her, and took her to a vacant house in Fayetteville, where Lewis planned to prostitute her to recoup his money.” Before arriving at the vacant house, the girlfriend jumped from the moving car, but Lewis forced her back inside at gunpoint, officials say. “Lewis kicked and punched her in the face several times,” the news release said. “When (police) arrived at the vacant residence, her face was visibly swollen. She had a chipped tooth and scrapes on her nose and mouth, as well as abrasions to her feet, legs, and arms.”

Man arrested, accused of killing teen during gamblers’ fight in Atlanta 

A man accused of fatally shooting a teenager during an argument while gambling was arrested, Atlanta police confirmed. Andrew Dontavious Glass remained in the Fulton County jail Wednesday on murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery charges in the July 14 shooting in the 1200 block of Elizabeth Avenue in southwest Atlanta, police said. Authorities said they found the teen — identified by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office as Stacey Monts, 17, of East Point —in the kitchen dead from a gunshot wound. A man was found in the living with a gunshot wound to the buttocks. A second man who was shot was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 09/10 – 09/16

Gambling, guns a ‘recipe to die,’ SC official says as teen charged after two deaths

A South Carolina 17-year-old was arrested Wednesday following the
killing of two other teenagers, according to the Charleston Police Department. Two Charleston teens, 15-year-old Taleket Williams and 17-year-old Juquel Young, were shot to death just before 9 p.m Sunday outside of a West Ashley apartment complex, per counton2.com. Zamere Raeguel Treawn Brown was charged with murder and possession of a firearm in a violent crime, after he was taken into custody with assistance from U.S. Marshals, the police said. Police said that the Johns Island teen has been charged in Williams’ murder. The investigation into Young’s death remains ongoing. Brown was a classmate of Williams and Young at West Ashley High School at one point, according to abcnews4.com. Police Chief Luther Reynolds said Williams and Young, the suspects, and several other young men were hanging out near the basketball court, live5news.com reported. The teens were playing dice when a dispute escalated into the fatal shooting, said James Johnson, the S.C. president of the National Action Network, postandcourier.com reported. Johnson said many of the youngsters had guns, calling it “a recipe to die.”

Man killed, deputies identified in shooting in Casino Del Sol parking lot

Late Saturday, July 21, 39-year-old Vincent James Ewer II died in a
deputy-involved shooting in a parking lot at Casino Del Sol. The deputies involved in the shooting have been identified as Deputy Paul Petropoulos, a 22 year veteran, and Sergeant Aaron Cross, a 17 year veteran. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department said no deputies were injured in the incident, which started around 10 p.m. with a car chase. During the pursuit, the suspect rammed a Pascua Yaqui Police Department vehicle in the casino’s parking lot before running into a desert area. The PCSD said the armed suspect, who has not been identified, was then shot at by two deputies. The suspect was hit and died at the scene. An officer with the Pascua Yaqui Police Department suffered minor injuries but did not require hospitalization. One of the department canines also received minor injuries, but was treated and released back into his handler’s care.

Accountant sentenced for embezzling more than $860,000 from 4 businesses 

Through theft and forgery Justin Ha stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his employer AMH Inc. and three other business he did accounting for as a contractor. Ha blamed his addiction. “Your honor, I had a very bad gambling problem,” he said. At his sentencing Tuesday Ha asked the judge for probation. “I apologize to my former employer and to all the victims for what I have done to them,” he said. Circuit judge Rom Trader sentenced the 47-year-old to ten years in prison. “I don’t care what your reason was,” he said. “Nothing about that gave you the right to steal money from these people. You knew exactly what you were doing every time you did it.” Ha stole $866,000 and used the cash to pay credit card debts and student loans. He also paid for trips, and tabs at restaurants, bars and strip clubs. Randy Norfleet’s Building Maintenance Solutions was one of his victims. “It put me out of business. I’m done!” Norfleet told the court. “The financial impact of this is just so significant,” said Austin Hirayama of AMH, Inc.

Poker pro folds, pleads guilty in $6M ticket-flipping scam 

Federal prosecutors in California say a professional poker player has admitted he bilked investors out of more than $6 million in a Super Bowl and World Cup ticket-flipping scam. The U.S. Attorney’s office says Seyed Reza Ali Fazeli pleaded guilty Tuesday to wire fraud. Prosecutors said Fazeli ran a Nevada-based company called Summit Entertainment that raised millions by promising to purchase tickets for resale to the Super Bowl and World Cup. He never bought the tickets and instead used the money for personal expenses and to pay off gambling debts, according to prosecutors. The 49-year-old faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced in January. Fazeli is facing civil lawsuits related to the scheme. He played on the pro poker circuit for several years in Las Vegas.

Securities agent gets prison time for millions in fraud 

A former North Dakota securities and insurance agent was sentenced Monday to more than 11 years in federal prison for swindling about 40 people out of millions of dollars over a 15-year-period to finance a lavish lifestyle including purchases of a Ford Mustang convertible sports car and country club dues. Kevin Wanner, 56, of Bismarck, also used the money from sham investments for home remodeling and private school tuition for his children, according to prosecutors who called Wanner’s actions “a case of ruthless victimization.” “You can’t turn over a single stone in this case without finding someone who has been emotionally bludgeoned by Mr. Wanner,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Chasesaid. Defense attorney Jeffrey Weikum maintained Wanner’s gambling addiction was the root of his criminal activity, and he had Wanner’s addiction counselor testify on his behalf.

Six-year sentence for Winnipeg accountant who embezzled $2M

A Winnipeg accountant with a gambling problem who spent seven years defrauding his employer of almost $2 million has been sentenced to six years in prison. Maximilian Panzo has 31 months left to serve after Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Sadie Bond imposed the sentence Monday. Panzo pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000 after stealing $1,978,289.78 from Fineline Communications Ltd. between 2008 and 2015. “The crime that Mr. Panzo has committed was premeditated, sophisticated and ongoing. It was not impulsive. It was calculated and purposeful,” Bond said. By the time his fraud was discovered, Panzo had worked for the company for 25 years, and was seen as a trusted advisor. Panzo had a gambling habit and used some of the money he stole at casinos and online gambling websites, but Bond said that didn’t make much difference to her decision on his prison sentence.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 08/27 – 09/09

Marshfield man ordered to give up $425,000 earned from illegal gambling

A Marshfield man who owns Quincy’s South Side Tavern has been ordered to forfeit nearly $425,000 in proceeds he earned from running an illegal sports betting ring out of the bar. He is one of five who were indicted in connection with the gambling scheme. Authorities say Manning, Patrick Dolbeare of Dorchester and Sean Conroy of Braintree ran a gambling operation out of the South Side Tavern’s Quincy location, and that James Manning of Pembroke and Nicholas Manning of Dorchester participated in it. The state’s attorney general’s office said Manning and others “took illegal bets from hundreds of gamblers through sports betting websites run by an offshore casino. The defendants had dozens of agents working for them as part of the illegal operation,” a statement said.

Five from South Brooklyn indicted on loan sharking and illegal gambling charges

The last vestiges of the mob are still alive in South Brooklyn, but the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York is attempting to bring down five alleged members and associates of the Colombo and Gambino crime families, who were indicted in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday. The 32-count indictment charged two inducted members and two associates of the Colombo organized crime family with racketeering, including acts of extortion, extortionate collection, money laundering and illegal gambling. A fifth defendant, an inducted member of the Gambino organized crime family, was charged with extortionate collection and a related conspiracy. “The mob is certainly diminished, but it is not dead,” said NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

Man accused in Oregon Lottery shooting threat apologizes, says he was mad about lost money

A Lebanon man accused of threatening to kill people at the Oregon Lottery headquarters says the email threat “was a terrible mistake on my part.” In a message provided by Oregon State Police on Thursday, Jason Ouellette apologized to anyone at the lottery agency frightened by the shooting threat and says he plans to get help for his gambling addiction. “I was angry at myself after losing a substantial amount of money playing a lottery machine the previous day,” said Ouellette, 42. “I have struggled with gambling for many years.” It is not immediately clear how much money Ouellette lost. Ouellette was arrested at his home on Tuesday hours after sending the email to the lottery office in Salem, state police said. He faces an accusation of menacing, police said. He was booked and later released from the Marion County jail due to overcrowding.

PA Authorities Bust Up Multimillion-Dollar Video Gambling Ring

*Pennsylvania* state authorities recently destroyed a *multimillion-dollar video gambling organization* and arrested its alleged owner. The illegal operation conducted business in Allegheny, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. In the scheme, patrons at bars, restaurants, and clubs could win credits from machines placed in the establishments. The winners would then redeem the credits for cash from the bar owners. “Today we’ve ended Tony Zenner’s video gambling operation,” said state attorney general Josh Shapiro. “This defendant raked in millions of dollars in illegal proceeds, draining money from Pennsylvanians — and from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania — over the last decade.” The arrest was the final step in a three-year investigation. In April 2018, police confiscated over 100 video poker machines and*$83,000 in cash* from Zenner’s warehouse and car. They also froze $63,000 spread across several bank account. In all, they allege that Zenner made $7 million over the course of the past decade.

Ex-Border Patrol agent in Nogales says gambling led him to drug smuggling

A former Border Patrol agent in Nogales said his gambling habit forced him into a drug-smuggling conspiracy. Alex Peña, 37, was sentenced Monday to 20 months in federal prison for his role in the conspiracy. While in uniform, Peña stole a Border Patrol truck in the middle of the night in August 2016 and drove it to a remote area south of Patagonia, where he admitted he intended to help smuggle a load of marijuana, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson. Peña had a “significant gambling problem” which, combined with a 25 percent reduction in pay following a funding cut to the agency, “caused a financial struggle” and he “could not see an exit,” defense lawyer Christopher Scileppi wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Feds seize over $765,000 from Moore stores 

Two Southern Pines convenience stores will have $765,850 taken by the U.S. government after accusations of profiting from illegal gambling machines, according to a North Carolina district court press release Friday. In a complaint filed Dec. 23, 2016, the U.S. stated that an undercover investigation had found “several illegal electronic gaming machines and games of chance” operated by the Patels at both Jay’s Food Mart 1 and 2. The machines, which displayed an electronic version of a slot machine, were owned by “a third-party” with whom the Patels split the proceeds. Customers who won money on the machines were paid in-store. “A segment of the gaming industry continues to foist illegal games of chance on the people of North Carolina, particularly on those least able to afford this addictive and destructive habit — this in spite of clear directives from both the North Carolina General Assembly and Supreme Court of North Carolina barring such games,” said Robert J. Higdon Jr., U.S. attorney for the eastern district of North Carolina.

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A Brief Look at Crime 08/20 – 08/26

Police arrest man wanted for stabbing Bronx woman to death with screwdriver a month after killing his lottery winner uncle

A Bronx ex-con already wanted in the June murder of his lottery-winning uncle was busted for the lethal screwdriver stabbing of a Bronx secretary inside her company’s office, police said. Outraged family and friends of victim Wanda Rios, 45, said the arrest of suspect Idris Abdul-Muhaymin on murder charges did nothing to ease their heartbreak about Wednesday’s killing. “He’s a sick person,” said Rios’ neighbor Yali Tores, 37, about the alleged killer. “They should have caught him earlier so he couldn’t do this to somebody else. I’m still in shock.” Police, without providing any details, said the suspect knew Wanda Rios. The accused killer knew his earlier victim, too, cops said: His 73-year-old uncle Owen Dillard, stabbed to death inside a Mott Haven apartment on June 11. Dillard had just hit the lottery for $10,000 before the killing, while his nephew was deep in the hole with gambling debts, police said. It was unclear where Abdul-Muhaymin, identified two weeks ago as a suspect in the Diillard death, spent the month between the two murders.

Gambling debt drove man to murder his sister-in-law

Gambling debts and “onerous” payday loans lead a Standard man to murder his sister-in-law, fracture her skull, and bury her in a shallow grave, a prosecutor told the jury Wednesday in opening arguments in Putnam County Court. Clifford A. Andersen Jr., 68, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death, accused of killing Deborah Dewey, 62, of Ladd. He’s being held on $1.5 million bond and faces 20 to 60 years or more in prison, with no possibility of parole. Among that evidence: Video of Andersen entering a store to buy manure found at the grave, and of him at the truck stop where Dewey’s car was found. Photos of her blood on the door, carpet and the floor beneath the carpet of the home where investigators say she was killed, and her blood on the wheel of a carpet cleaner a witness saw him carrying into the home. Dewey had a history of withdrawals of several thousand dollars in the years before her death, money, Elward said, that was given to Andersen to pay his increasing gambling debts and “onerous payday loans.”

‘Bagman’ gets five years in prison for role in American Senior Communities scheme

Steven Ganote, described by prosecutors as the “bagman” behind a lucrative nursing home fraud scheme, was sentenced Monday to five years in prison. And Josh Burkhart, brother of the former American Senior Communities CEO who orchestrated the scheme, was sentenced to four months in prison for his role. Ganote and Burkhart pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to helping illegally obtain what prosecutors said was $19 million. The money came from overcharges and kickbacks from a variety of high-volume vendors for the state’s largest nursing home chain. Most of the payments were from government Medicare and Medicaid funds. Ganote pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and health care fraud; conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute; and money laundering. Prosecutors said Ganote caused a loss of $8 million while living a lavish lifestyle, flying on private jets, gambling in Las Vegas, renovating a vacation home in Florida and buying watches, diamonds and gold bars.

Warnings ignored: Investigator fired after raising concerns about casino money laundering 

A pile of $20 bills – some $600,000 — that was stacked higher than the casino cashier. It’s the surreal scene that stays with Joe Schalk from his time as the senior director of investigations at B.C.’s gambling regulator, GPEB. “She disappeared behind these bills to the point where all you could see was her eyes and forehead. It was a huge mountain of cash,” Schalk recalled. And reports of suspicious cash transactions were mounting too – ballooning more than 20 times to 2014, when Schalk’s team was estimating it would crest over $200 million in a single year. Schalk and his team were tasked with tracking this likely dirty money. They believed it was an international scheme. The gamblers, they believed, could be dupes, but the source of the money was likely criminal operations with reach around the globe. “The gambler receives the cash money from loan sharks, who receive the money from what I believe is criminal sources. The gambler loses the cash money gambling at the casino and ultimately repays his debt in the foreign jurisdiction,” wrote Schalk’s colleague in 2013.

That assessment was “precisely correct,” according to the recent report by Dr. Peter German, which examined money laundering in B.C. casinos, exploring its links to the drug trade, criminal gangs and even Lower Mainland real estate. But at the time, Schalk said no one seemed to be listening, even as the reports of suspicious money piled up. “Exponentially it kept growing. Huge numbers. It became more frustrating because less and less people were listening. And nobody was doing anything about it,” he said. In December 2014, he and his colleague were brought into an office, dismissed without cause, and walked out of the building. Schalk says it’s clear a message was being sent. “I think the noise that was being made needed to be quieted,” he said. The German report also concluded that the firings were disruptive to GPEB’s attempts to stop money laundering.

Poker Pro Ali Fazeli Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud in Sports Ticket Resale Scam 

Fazeli was facing two felony counts of wire fraud after being accused of scamming investors out of $6.2 million. Fazeli has claimed that he would use that money to buy and sell tickets to high value sporting events like the Super Bowl and World Cup, turning a profit in the process. But while the money was wired to Fazeli’s ticket brokerage, Summit Entertainment Group, most of those funds were never used to speculate on tickets. Instead, Fazeli was alleged to have used the money to gamble at Las Vegas casinos as well as to pay off gambling debts. Fazeli would be arrested in February following an FBI investigation, and was indicted in March. In the plea agreement, Fazeli reportedly admitted to transferring approximately $1.8 million to the Aria, where he used at least some of those funds to buy into high roller poker tournaments in 2016. Fazeli was a regular in the Aria’s high roller series throughout 2016, cashing at least 10 times in events with buy-ins of at least $25,000 during that year. Those wins make up the majority of his $2.2 million in lifetime tournament earnings.

Online Betting Reveals Possible Doubles Match-Fixing at Wimbledon

Officials at Pinnacle Sports flagged an early-round men’s doubles match at Wimbledon for suspicious betting patterns, something that could be an indicator that the match was fixed. While unusual gambling behavior around a match would never be considered conclusive evidence that the integrity of a contest had been compromised, it is an initial signal that can provoke further investigation. The questionable wagering happened around the first-round men’s doubles match between the Spanish pair of David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco, and their opponents, Joao Sousa and Leonardo Mayer. According to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Pinnacle began noticing a problem in the hour before the match began. A series of bets came in from accounts that had previously gambled on other suspicious matches, prompting the bookmaker to flag the match. “We followed our strict protocol when it comes [to] match-fixingalerts by notifying the authorities on site at Wimbledon andreducing our market offering immediately,” Pinnacle sports integritymanager Sam Gomersall told ABC. While ABC declined to identify the specific match for what the organization said were legal reasons, Pinnacle confirmed to other media outlets, including /The New York Times/, that it was the first-round match involving Marrero and Verdasco that drew their attention.

Experts say that tennis is a sport that is particularly vulnerable to match-fixing, particularly at the lower levels of the sport. With tens of thousands of matches every year and very little prize money on lower-level tours, players may be tempted to throw matches or give away individual points, games, or sets. The numbers appear to bear that out. From 2015 through 2017, operators and regulators passed along 779 alerts to the TIU. Typically, the vast majority of these alerts come from Challenger and Futures competitions.

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