Category Archives: Crime

A Brief Look at Crime 02/14 – 02/20

Nun Who Embezzled $835K From Torrance School To Fund Gambling Habit To Be Sentenced

The retired principal of a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, who as a nun took a vow of poverty, faces sentencing Monday for embezzling more than $835,000 in school funds to support a gambling habit and other personal expenses. Mary Margaret Kreuper, 80, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty in July to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges. Prosecutors recommend a 24-month prison sentence, three years of supervised release, and restitution. Kreuper acknowledged that for a period of 10 years ending in September 2018, she embezzled $835,339 from St. James Catholic School. As principal — a position she had for nearly 30 years before she retired — Kreuper was responsible for the money the school received to pay for tuition and fees, as well as for charitable donations, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court.

Sweepstakes business owner previously warned by officials is charged with over 50 criminal offenses for illegal gaming

The owner of a sweepstakes business in Lexington who was warned by law enforcement that he could be facing criminal charges for operating an illegal electronic gaming facility was arrested on Wednesday after a raid on the business on Winston Road. Albright has been charged, among other things, with felony continuing criminal enterprise, which is described as a continuing series of violations which are “in concert with five or more other persons with respect to whom the person occupies a position of organizer, supervisor or any other position of management, and from which the person obtains substantial income or resources to operating an illegal video game enterprise”, according the arrest report provided by the Davidson County Magistrates office.

Las Vegas casino triggered FBI’s Los Angeles bribery case

As a City Council member, Huizar was what casinos call a “politically exposed person.” He could gamble at the Palazzo only after filing papers showing he was not using public funds. Palazzo dealers kept close watch on Huang and Huizar when they arrived hours later in Parlor 8, a room for high rollers who typically bet with $25,000 and $100,000 chips. What they discovered triggered an FBI investigation that brought to light a sprawling corruption scandal at Los Angeles City Hall. Federal prosecutions so far have put another City Council member in prison and yielded four other felony guilty pleas. 

Huizar is awaiting trial on charges of running an extortion racket that shook down developers of top-tier properties in downtown Los Angeles. The casino chips, prosecutors say, were part of more than $800,000 in bribes that Huang paid the councilman in an attempt to win city approval of a 77-story tower that aimed to be the tallest on the West Coast. It was never built.

Man threatens to explode Las Vegas casino with grenade in his backside

A man is accused of threatening to blow up a Las Vegas casino, telling officers he had a grenade in his body, police said. Brian Gower, 46, faces one count of making threats of conveying false information concerning an act of terrorism after the incident Friday morning. According to police, Gower was arrested at The Strat Hotel and Casino after threatening to “blow the building up,” officers wrote in an arrest report. Police said while they were talking with Gower, he “was saying random things and talking about Joe Rogan and his ex-wife,” the report said. “At one point, Gower stated to [an] officer that he had a grenade in his [backside] and he wanted to [pass gas].” Officers said Gower had previously spoken to hotel security, telling them they had 15 minutes to evacuate the building, or it would explode. Officers did not find any explosives on Gower and took him to the Clark County jail.

Aberdeen man pleads guilty to playing with grant funds from Baltimore nonprofit

An Aberdeen man pleaded guilty on Jan. 20 to federal charges of filing false tax returns and wire fraud after embezzling funds intended for a Baltimore youth nonprofit, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice. Tyrone Sherrod owned a nonprofit organization in Baltimore City that provided after-school and summer education, as well as athletic programs, at a local elementary school from 2015 to 2019. In 2015, Sherrod applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of education to help fund these programs, and received approximately $1.1 million to be paid over three years. Between 2016 and 2018, Sherrod electronically submitted 19 bogus project invoice summaries that detailed payroll records, receipts and budget summaries, according to the Justice Department. These summaries showed a payroll of more than $746,000, while the nonprofit’s actual payroll during this period was closer to $212,000. According to his plea agreement, Sherrod lost much of the grant money because of casino gambling. From 2016 to 2018, his gambling losses were around $547,000. During the same period, Sherrod withdrew $552,405 in cash from a casino’s ATM.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 02/07 – 02/13

Police raid 2 illegal gambling locations in Summit County, recover cash, guns, drugs

More than a half of a million dollars in cash, along with 11 guns, an AR-15, and 10 pounds of marijuana were found at two illegal gambling sites, said Springfield Township police. Springfield Township Sergeant Eric East said officers, along with Metro SWAT and the Cuyahoga Falls SWAT team, executed multiple search warrants at a home and business in Springfield Township. Sergeant East also said three ballistic vests were also found when the search warrants were executed. Derrick Chatman, 39, of Springfield Township is charged with drug trafficking, weapons under disability and possession of drugs. Chatman is currently locked up in the Summit County Jail. Sergeant East said additional charges are pending.

Georgia trainer gets five years for role in dogfighting and cocaine trafficking ring 

A dogfighting trainer and breeder from Suwanee, Georgia, was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday for his role in what prosecutors called a large multistate dogfighting and cocaine trafficking ring. Vernon Vegas, 49, was given the statutory maximum sentencing after pleading guilty last September to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture. U.S. District Judge Tilman E. “Tripp” Self III also sentenced Vegas to three years of supervised release following his imprisonment and ordered him to forfeit $116,819 in seized cash and pay a $10,000 fine. Eleven people, including Vegas, were indicted on federal charges a year ago after a law enforcement investigation into a criminal organization involved in both cocaine distribution and organized dogfighting, which operated across North Georgia, Florida and Alabama from May 2019 until February 2020.

Jockey Mychel Sanchez Suspended After Betting Against Himself in Pennsylvania 

Mychel Sanchez was suspended indefinitely by 1/ST Racing on Friday. That’s after it was reported officials in Pennsylvania suspended the thoroughbred jockey for betting against his mounts. Sanchez was pulled from races on cards for Friday and Saturday at Laurel Park in Maryland. Maryland Racing Commission Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins said he learned stewards in Pennsylvania suspended Sanchez 60 days for betting violations. That’s according to the Paulick Report, a horse racing news site, “You can’t bet against yourself,” Hopkins told the Paulick Report on Friday. In 43 races this year, Sanchez has hit the board 18 times, including nine wins. He’s produced $244,327 in purse earnings for his connections so far this year. Last year, Sanchez won 155 times in 1,008 races. He ran in the top three 46 percent of the time and recorded earnings of $5.7 million.

Focus on Xhaka Yellow Card as Bookmaker Reports $420,000 in Suspicious Bitcoin Bets

At least $420,000 was placed on an Arsenal player receiving a yellow card in the last ten minutes of a game earlier this season via a single bookmaker, according to a report from The Athletic. The suspicious bets prompted the operator to flag the incident to the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA). As first reported by last week, the yellow card in question is believed to be the one midfielder Granit Xhaka picked up in the 85th minute against Leeds when he appeared to time-waste inexplicably over a free kick. The incident jarred because Arsenal were leading 4-1 at the time and there was no strategic reason to waste time. Several gamblers took to Twitter immediately after the game to highlight that around $65,000 had been matched suddenly on the Betfair betting exchange shortly before the booking, plunging the odds from 9/4 to 4/5.

MGM Springfield Police Confrontation Leaves One Man Critically Wounded, Cop Injured 

A 24-year-old Springfield, Mass. man was hospitalized in critical condition early Thursday after getting shot by one or more police officers at the MGM Springfield parking garage overnight. Minutes earlier, he allegedly injured a Springfield police officer with a flare gun. The incident began at about midnight when shell casings were found in the unnamed man’s backpack by casino security guards, MassLive, a regional news site in Massachusetts, reported. The guards prevented him from entering the gaming property.

Then, officers stopped the man outside of the casino. While in an alley, he allegedly fired the flare gun. A Springfield police officer, who is part of the Gaming Enforcement Unit, was injured. The suspect then fled into the casino’s parking garage. He again allegedly fired the flare gun twice at police officers who were pursuing him, according to WGGB, a local TV station. An unknown number of officers then shot the man at about 12:10 am. Springfield police officers immediately provided first aid to the suspect. He was then transported to Baystate Medical Center. He has “serious injuries” and is reportedly in critical condition at the Springfield hospital, police said in a statement.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/30 – 02/06

Former Westlake Bank Teller Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling from Employer

U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that Arin Kumhall, 38, of North Olmsted, Ohio, was sentenced on January 6, 2022, by Judge James S. Gwin to five months in prison, to be followed by five months of home confinement, after Kumhall pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $73,000 from her employer. According to court documents, Kumhall was employed as a bank teller at a Citizens Bank in Westlake, Ohio.   In addition to traditional teller responsibilities, Kumhall was responsible for ordering, receiving and inputting cash into the bank’s internal reporting system for the branch The FBI obtained and reviewed Kumhall’s personal bank account information and observed an increase in cash deposits and online gambling activity from September 2020 through December 2020.

Man arrested for leaving explosive device at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, authorities say

Rogers County deputies arrested a man Tuesday after they say he brought an explosive device in a bag onto the property of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Zachary Schmidt told investigators that he knew the device was in the bag he got out of a dumpster near 41st and 129th East Avenue. Schmidt said he got a ride to the casino from some people. He told detectives that he had gotten into an argument with them and they left him at the casino. He said the people who gave him a ride put the bag under some stairs at the casino. Detectives interviewed the people who gave Schmidt a ride and they said the bag belonged to Schmidt. Schmidt told deputies he thought the device was a firework or firecracker.

Oakland Police Shut Down Illegal Gambling Den, Seize Guns and Drugs

Police in Oakland shut down another illegal gambling operation after executing a search warrant Wednesday, seizing firearms including multiple assault rifles and pounds of methamphetamine and pot.Officers seized 10 guns, including four assault rifles with extended magazines, 5.5 pounds of what is suspected to be crystal methamphetamine and 15.5 pounds of marijuana, according to police. The methamphetamine has a street value of $70,000, police said. Officers also seized 12 alleged illegal gambling machines and more than $7,000 in cash. Police said they shut down two other illegal gambling operations in July and October of last year.

Man dies after confrontation with security guard at Seven Mile Casino 

Police are investigating an incident at a Chula Vista casino that led to a man’s death Monday evening. At around 8:45 p.m., Chula Vista Police officers were called to Seven Mile Casino (285 Bay Blvd.) in response to a physical confrontation between a man and a casino security guard. According to police, the altercation at the casino’s main entrance resulted in the man being injured. The injured man, who was believed to be a transient, was rushed to UC San Diego Medical Center where he later died from his injuries. CVPD homicide detectives are looking into the events that led to the confrontation.

Heartless fraudster who plundered £90k from Lanarkshire family business behind bars

A devastated family say they are “hanging on by the skin of our teeth” after a trusted employee stole £90,000 from the business they’d built up over many years of hard work. Crooked bookkeeper Andrea Cochrane, who worked as a company secretary at East Kilbride-based. A Steel & Son Contracts Ltd for more than 30 years, has been sentenced to 28 months in jail. The callous former employee previously admitted scamming thousands from the family business to fund a £700 a day gambling addiction – despite being treated as a friend of the Steel family, and invited to weddings and birthday parties. Cochrane, from Bellshill, was back in Hamilton Sheriff Court this week for sentencing after it was postponed from a hearing last month.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/23 – 01/30

Las Vegas Strip Murder Suspects Held Without Bail After Two Fatal Shootings

A pair of men charged in two Las Vegas Strip homicides on Friday remained behind bars this weekend. One New Year’s Eve shooting was at Palace Station Casino. The other was at Fashion Show Mall. Both were in parking garages. The suspects were identified as Jordan Ruby, 18, and Jesani Carter, 20, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Each was charged with murder, and each is expected to appear in court on Tuesday. More charges are likely, Las Vegas Metro Police added in a statement. The two suspects could be linked to other crimes in the region, police suspect. “Detectives are currently reviewing their connection to other events,” Metro police said Saturday about the duo. “These investigations are still ongoing and additional charges will be forthcoming.”

US Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission Member Guilty of Embezzlement

Barnes was convicted by the jury after just six hours of deliberation. She had been charged by the federal government with conspiracy to steal from programs, receiving federal funds in contravention of US laws, receipt of stolen government money, filing false tax returns in violation of Virgin Islands law, and receiving federal funds in violations of US Law. Evidence proved that Barnes colluded with Violet Anne Golden, former VI Casino Control Commission Chair, in a scheme to steal federal and local money, as well as file a false tax return. Evidence revealed that Barnes received a $65,000 contract between April and June 2015. However, it is not clear for what purpose the contract was. Evidence also revealed that Barnes received $568,104 in total, including more than $113,000 in travel, perks and vehicle expenses. Jill Koster, the lead prosecutor in the case, stated that Barnes knew “what was in Golden’s wallet” during opening statements. This was referring to the hundreds and thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds that were said to have been spent at the time of the crimes.

Police Chief: Violence concern with gambling businesses operating illegally

Police have long investigated illegal gambling and 8-liners. In May of 2020 a 45-year-old woman was arrested at Lucky’s Game Room on the same charge and bonded out. And in March this year police issued 20 citations to eight game rooms in the city. By definition, a gaming machine commonly referred to as an “8-Liner,” is any coin-operated contrivance designed solely for amusement if the machine rewards the player exclusively with non-cash merchandise or a representation of value redeemable for those items, that have a wholesale value available from a single play of the device of not more than ten times the amount charged to play or $5, whichever is less.

It’s been said these types of illegal gambling business leads to crime, and police say they are not good for the city. “They have a high probability of getting robbed, because criminals know they are illegally paying out money and so they know there is cash money on site,” PAPD Det. Sadie Guedry said. “When businesses are robbed, this increases the chance of people getting hurt. Where there is illegal gambling, there is more than likely other illegal activity going on.” In addition, senior citizens are being misled, she said, believing these places are like legal casinos.

Gambling addict from Danville gets 8 years in prison for robbing 19 stores in Virginia and North Carolina 

Larry Wayne Inge, whose gambling addiction led him to rob 19 stores across two states in the course of 51 days, was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison. Inge testified in Roanoke’s federal court that his crime spree began Dec. 1, 2019, after he had depleted his life savings, maxed out credit cards and spent borrowed money so he could continue to place bets on televised football games. That evening, the 40-year-old from Danville walked into the Valero convenience store on Philpott Road in South Boston, wearing a skull cap and bandana and carrying a blue pillowcase. Keeping one hand in his jacket pocket as if he had a gun, he demanded all the money that was in the cash register. After he had wagered that cash away, he robbed the Food Lion on Philpott Road in Henry County a few weeks later, then the Moore’s Country Store in Lynchburg on Dec. 29. Although Inge was never armed and no one was injured, “he put everyone in danger,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Swartz said in asking for a 10-year sentence. Each time he waked into a store, Inge testified, “I realized that what I did, even before I did it, was unacceptable.” But by then, he said, the urge to place bets using an online gaming site was uncontrollable. After the money from one robbery was gone, “the very next day, I would be in the same situation.”

Arizona man gets prison time for casino sex attack on tribal land

A 26-year-old Arizona man who admitted sexually assaulting a woman at a Fort Mojave Indian Reservation resort-casino has been sentenced to eight years and four months in prison. A federal prosecutor said Richard Anthony Hernandez also was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas to 15 years of supervised release after prison. Hernandez’s defense attorney didn’t immediately comment on his client’s behalf. A prosecutor says the woman is Native American. She was hospitalized for multiple face and head injuries and loss of consciousness after the September 2018 attack near near Laughlin and the Colorado River in Nevada. The case was prosecuted in federal court because the crime occurred on tribal land.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/17 – 01/23

Hilton Former Revenue Manager Arrested in $28M Hotel Room Fraud 

Denny Bhakta used casinos to launder the money that he illegally obtained. He offered investors opportunities that are just too good to pass. He alleged in fake documents that he’s tied to Hilton and United Airlines. Denny Bhakta, who was an ex-Hilton San Diego Bayfront revenue manager, was arrested on Tuesday after allegedly defrauding investors of around $28 million. As the FBI reports, the San Diego man used a discount scheme involving bogus hotel room blocks and laundered the money through well-known casinos in Las Vegas, such as The Cosmopolitan and ARIA, the Department of Justice states in a press release.

In the SEC complaint, the phrase “money laundering” is avoided and instead, it is just stated that the money was used for gambling purposes. Suzanne Turner, FBI Special Agent in Charge, stated that this case will be a warning to all those who intend to participate in these types of activities and noted that the FBI will work with the SEC to make sure that investment fraud is rooted out.

Woman Steals $240K to Fuel Gambling Addiction, Found Guilty of Wire Fraud

A former teacher pleaded guilty to wire fraud last week, announced the Department of Justice in Georgia. The woman embezzled some $240,000 which was used to help recover from gambling losses and fuel her gambling addiction. The investigation uncovered that the woman diverted many contributions from different organizations to her account. Before her job as a teacher, Trice worked as a volunteer campaign coordinator at the UNCF between 2005 and 2017. The investigators found that while at UNCF, she diverted many small contributions to her account. Suspicious of embezzlement, the UNCF ended her relationship with Trice. Investigators uncovered that she had stopped working at the dental office due to similar allegations. “Trenna Trice abused the trust of two non-profits, a small business and many individual citizens when   she chose to steal money intended for others to fund her gambling addiction.”

Former state worker sentenced for embezzling more than $855,000 from environment department

A former state employee has been sentenced to one year in jail and three years of probation for embezzling more than $800,000 from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. While working with EGLE as an environmental quality specialist, Joseph Pettit helped release bond money back to companies that had drilled in or operated a mineral well in Michigan and facilitated transfers of money back to its original owner, according to the Attorney General’s Office. He also created fake vendors and diverted the bond money into his personal bank accounts, according to the AG’s office. Pettit said some of his issues stemmed from a gambling addiction, for which he is now seeking treatment.

Devils Lake eye doctor employee accused of stealing $350k to gamble

The business manager at a Devils Lake eye clinic is facing potential jail time after investigators say she embezzled more than a quarter of a million dollars. According to the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Nancy Weaver took nearly $350,000 in cash deposits from the office of Drs. Krein and Moen over a six-year period starting in 2014. They say she lost almost all of it while gambling at the Spirit Lake Casino. If convicted, Weaver could get up to 20 years in prison.

Innocent New York Townhouse Really a Brothel, Gambling Den, Lawsuit Asserts

A townhouse in the Murray Hill section of New York City is a “den of iniquity”. It has been converted into a members-only club operating 24 hours a day. A lawsuit hopes to have the operations shut down. A townhouse worth nearly $7 million in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City has been converted into a club for members only by squatters. The residents of the townhouse host a brothel, poker games and after-hours parties. Now, a lawsuit hopes to get them evicted.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/10 – 12/16

Integrity of Sports Put at Risk by $1.7 Trillion in Illegal Bets, U.N. Says

Criminals are using the wagers to launder money globally. Illicit online operators use cryptocurrencies to hide actions. Illegal betting on sports may approach $1.7 trillion annually and is often used by criminals to launder money, according to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The estimate dwarfs the legal sports wagering market, which is about $40 billion, according to the report  released Thursday. The increasing number and types of bets are complicating efforts by law enforcement to squash illegal wagering, as is a proliferation of rogue online operators using cryptocurrencies to disguise who is gambling.

Illegal gambling strips sport of its positive, transformative power, the report said, risking its ability to teach and inspire young people. “In our increasingly globalized world, sport is exposed to complex risks posed by corrupt actors who seek to exploit it   for illicit gain,” Ghada Waly, executive director of the office, said in her introduction to the report.

$3 million in marijuana seized after assault at NC casino 

Police in North Carolina seized around $3 million worth of marijuana Thursday morning following an assault at a casino. According to the Cherokee Indian Police Department, officers were originally called to a domestic violence incident at the Harrah’s   Cherokee Valley River Casino. Police said officers found a man and woman near the entrance to the casino hotel and determined that the man had assaulted the woman. That man, 27-year-old Brandon Thomas Jones of Tennessee, was arrested and charged with assault on a female and possession of methamphetamine and paraphernalia. Officers said that a U-Haul truck with a Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians license plate arrived to pick up the victim. The driver then gave officers consent to search the vehicle, police said. Inside the U-Haul, police said they found over 900 pounds of marijuana, multiple loaded syringes, and two guns.

Online Gambling Spree by Detroit Sergeant Fueled By Prisoner ATM Cards: Prosecutor

A former sergeant for the Detroit Police Department (DPD) who embezzled more than $30,000 after stealing ATM cards meant for inmates in his custody faces up to ten years in prison if convicted. Derek Loranger used the money for online gambling, according to prosecutors. At his arraignment Friday, Loranger pleaded not guilty to one count of embezzlement, one count of using a computer to commit a crime, one count of misconduct in office, and 10 counts of possession of a stolen financial transaction device. According to court documents, the 23-year DPD veteran worked at the Detroit Detention Center. When detainees were brought in, they would surrender cash that would be fed into an ATM. On their release, they would receive an ATM card loaded with the equivalent sum. Loranger is accused of stealing ten of these ATM cards between January and August of 2021 and loading them with cash. He then plowed the money into “multiple” online gambling sites.

Birmingham fraudster stole life savings from retired nurse 

A man posed as a lawyer and claimed to have cancer to defraud a pensioner of almost £250,000. Shahbaz Queshri 30, befriended the retired nurse and claimed he would help her recover lost funds after a bad investment. The money had been to help her disabled son live more independently but Queshri, of Birmingham, then spent up to £50K a day on online gambling sites. He was jailed for five years and four months after admitting fraud. The 78-year-old victim has had to re-mortgage her house and is still having to work after losing a total of £236,955 over an 18-month period, West Midlands Police said. Her family said Queshri, of Olorenshaw Road, had destroyed her retirement and she was suffering from anxiety, sleepless nights and worry.

Ex-Jets wide receiver sentenced to 3 years in prison for COVID relief fraud

A Florida federal court sentenced former Jets wide receiver Josh Bellamy to 37 months in prison on Friday for illegally acquiring $1.2 million in loans meant to help struggling businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Associated Press. Bellamy’s sentencing comes 15 months after he was arrested for his role in a fraud scheme involving 10 other people. The Jets released him a day before his arrest but had no knowledge of Bellamy’s off-field transgressions, per an ESPN report from 2020. Bellamy pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Court records claim Bellamy received a $1.2 million Paycheck Protection Program loan for his company, Drip Entertainment LLC, with falsified documents. He then used the money on items for himself and allegedly spent more than $100,000 of his PPP money at Dior, Gucci and jewelry stores, as well as at least $362,000 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 01/03 – 01/09

San Antonio couple describes Eagle Pass casino shooting chaos 

A San Antonio couple at the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel in Eagle Pass when gunshots were fired described the hour they spent terrified and uncertain of what was happening. Sara Almaraz and Rene Juarez captured the moment when a fun casino trip turned into chaos Sunday. “We just heard screaming. When I was running, people were like bumping into me, and then people’s cell phones were falling,” Almaraz said. “We didn’t know if we were running in the right direction. I didn’t even realize I was still recording until we were outside.” 

“The shooter went to the parking garage, which is exactly where we were standing, so we were like, ‘oh shoot.’ And that’s when they were telling everyone to come inside. I think that’s when they realized that he was outside,” Almaraz said. mTheir group moved to multiple locations during the ordeal while even the hotel rooms were evacuated. “There was probably about 500 people. We heard there was groups in the front, the side, the back of the casino, with guards. They did not want to let us leave even to our cars. They said, ‘We don’t know where he’s at,’” Juarez said.

Alleged Gambling Addict Sentenced to Life in Prison for Wife’s New Hampshire Murder

Prosecutors claim Argie was in debt and close to bankruptcy due to his gambling addiction, according to published reports. His family had tried to conduct an intervention with him with the hope of him addressing his behavior, news media reported. Maureen Argie was attempting to divorce him at the time of the homicide. She was also seeking custody of the children and felt threatened by her husband. William Argie’s fellow gambler, James Timbas, claimed that Argie tried to hire him to kill Maureen Argie. It was to appear like a suicide, he said. In return, Timbas would receive part of her $400,000 life insurance policy under the alleged scheme. Timbas refused to take part in the plot.

Insurance Agent Sentenced to 2 Years in Wire Fraud Case

A Snohomish, Washington, insurance agent was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud in the theft of premium payments from clients. Vicki Boser, owner of InsuranceTek, Inc., pleaded guilty in August. At her sentencing Tuesday, she was also ordered to pay $273,137 in restitution to eight companies or insurance brokers she defrauded. Boser used the money to support her gambling habit at area casinos, federal prosecutors said in a press release. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge James L. Robart likened the conduct to a Ponzi scheme saying, “The conduct is classic in terms of embezzling from clients.”

18 people nabbed in statewide gambling scheme, Seminole County sheriff says (FL)

Eighteen people allegedly involved in an illegal countywide casino operation were arrested Wednesday following a months-long investigation into a scheme involving gamblers who were mostly people “living on a fixed income,” Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma told reporters. The charges include racketeering and running an illegal lottery, both felonies, along with keeping a house of gaming and possessing and delivery of gaming machines. All 18 suspects will be charged in connection to establishing and running eight game centers throughout the county.

Photos released by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office show many of the establishments were located in strip plazas where they “had either no markings at all or a misrepresentation of what the business was,” Lemma said, including a pawn shop and a marketing business. Inside were video games, computers and other equipment that turned the rooms inside the businesses into small casinos.

‘Trusted’ secretary embezzled £90k from construction firm to fund gambling habit 

A “trusted” secretary who embezzled £90,000 from a construction firm to fund her gambling habit is selling her home in order to avoid prison. Andrea Cochrane, 52, worked as a bookkeeper for more than 30 years, but was stealing thousands in order to maintain a £700-a-day gambling addiction. Horrified bosses at A Steel & Son Contractors in East Kilbride, discovered a string of bogus payments and fired her, the Daily Record reports. After an initial payment of £2,500 had been queried, a review discovered £28,000 had been made to an accountancy firm when it should only have been £10,000. Investigations revealed Cochrane had labelled a series of high value transactions as ‘Turner Accountancy’ but had used the details of her own account to pocket the cash. Cochrane, of Bellshill, Lanarkshire, appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court and admitted embezzling £90,000 between January and July 2019. Sheriff John Speir deferred sentence after being told her family home was going on the market next month. Alan Murray, defending, said: “She should have sought help from someone for her problems but instead turned to drink and gambling.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/27 – 01/02

Human Trafficking Gang Used Gambling to Launder Money

A brutal criminal organization exploited workers for years and generated $200 million. The victims were kept in inhumane conditions for at least five years. Gang members took some of the proceeds to casinos to cover their tracks. A criminal group have used casinos to launder millions of ill-gotten funds obtained through the exploitation of Central American laborers who were forced to work in inhumane conditions across farms in Florida, Georgia, and Texas, and elsewhere court documents have revealed.

According to the documents, the gang was a “modern-day slavery” operation which used the money it received from the immigrants to purchase real estate and gamble at numerous gambling establishments to launder the money. Federal prosecutors were able to levy charges against at least 24 suspects after several US agencies, including Homeland Security, the FBI, the US Department of Labor and other authorities assisted in what was dubbed “Operation Blooming Onion.”

Casino Spree With GoFundMe Money Sees Man Enter Guilty Plea To Feds

A New Jersey man has admitted his part in a bogus GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $400,000, ostensibly to help a kind-hearted homeless veteran. But the money was frittered away on luxury items and casino trips to Las Vegas and Atlantic City by Mark D’Amico and his then-girlfriend, Katelyn McClure. D’Amico, 42, McClure, and homeless man Johnny Bobbitt Jr. are accused of inventing a feel-good story that was featured on the crowdfunding platform back in 2017. D’Amico and McClure claimed Bobbitt had given McClure his only $20 to help her when her car ran out of gas. But text messages later uncovered by police show they met Bobbitt for the first time outside the Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia and the Good Samaritan story was a hoax.

Aussie Woman Addicted to Gambling App That Doesn’t Pay Out Real Money Steals $678K 

To fuel her gambling addiction, the lady stole approximately $678,788 from her employer. The lady was so addicted to the app that she left it on auto while she slept. In Australia, gambling represents a significant public health issue. Although approximately 0.5-1% of the adult population is experiencing problem gambling, some 250,000-350,000 Australians are experiencing at-risk gambling.

Considering the ongoing pandemic, the online gambling activities in the country have spiked. In fact, a report from September this year suggested that online gambling spending in September skyrocketed. Moreover, last month, a new study funded by Gambling Research Australia revealed that the number of online gamblers doubled in the last 10 years.

Man who claimed dead parents’ pension for 33 years gambled it all away, court hears

A man who fraudulently claimed the pensions of his dead parents for 33 years has gambled away the close to €1 million he received in payments, a court has heard. Donal O’Callaghan of Churchfield Green, Cork appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court having pleaded guilty to 73 sample counts of social welfare fraud dating back over three decades. Some 68 counts relate to theft, while five refer to false documentation in support of the fraudulent claims. Defence Barrister Ray Boland, SC, told Judge Helen Boyle that his 58-year-old client suffers from a major gambling problem.

$1 billion and counting: Investigator reveals size of poker machine crime

State and federal authorities have evidence NSW’s 95,000 poker machines are being used as laundering machines for illicit cash that is “easily in the hundreds of millions” of dollars, with allegations that, nationwide, more than $1 billion from the proceeds of crime is likely being cleansed through pubs and clubs with gaming machines. The scale of Australia’s pokies crime problem has been revealed by one of the nation’s most senior gambling industry officials and comes as CCTV video from a central Sydney pokies venue shows a money-laundering syndicate operating with impunity.

The vision, obtained by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes, reveals the syndicate effectively commandeering the pokies venue to launder tens of thousands of dollars, with a large number of people apparently involved in the co-ordinated scheme. It shows two different methods: some in the group are working on linked gaming machines chasing an almost guaranteed jackpot, while another figure is feeding banknotes into two poker machines at once. In an hour, the man feeds $27,000 into the machine, then bets just $1 and claims the rest as “clean” gambling winnings.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/20 – 12/26

Account stole 129K from Child Abuse Victims’ Center

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

Vicksburg man arrested for murdering wife at Riverwalk Casino

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/13 – 12/19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brief Look at Crime 12/06 – 12/12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/29 – 12/05

Three dead in Stateline Casino shooting (MT)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man abducted after returning home from casino, police say

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

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

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

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/22 – 11/28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/15 – 11/21

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

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

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

Shots Fired In Parking Lot Of Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brief Look at Crime 11/08 – 11/14

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

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

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

Legends Casino shooting, nationwide warrant issued at 750K

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

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

Fatal Punch at The Strat Leads to Las Vegas Murder Charge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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