Category Archives: Crime

A Brief Look at Crime 05/18 – 05/24

Bookmakers are accused of trying to lure back problem gamblers during coronavirus lockdown with promotions on social media

Bookmakers have been accused of using ‘predatory’ tactics to lure back former gambling addicts during the coronavirus lockdown. With betting shops closed, firms have flooded social media with promotions offering welcome bonuses of up to £1,500. Health professionals, addiction specialists and MPs said people who had kicked their habit were struggling to cope with the targeted adverts, texts and emails. The country’s top mental health official said the deliberate targeting of ex-addicts was ‘shameless’ and ‘below the belt’. And a report by a former detective has accused bookmakers of failing to check whether gamblers are using stolen money. 

The Daily Mail’s Stop the Gambling Predators campaign continues to call for greater protection for addicts. This is vital because the suspension of sports means betting companies are pouring their efforts into advertising online casinos, which are more addictive. Almost one in ten of those who play online slots or use casino and bingo websites are problem gamblers compared to 2.5 per cent of those who place sports bets, according to the most recent analysis by the Gambling Commission. Experts fear that vulnerable gamblers trapped at home are being lured by adverts, which offer free spins and welcome bonuses, on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Claire Murdoch, NHS mental health director, told The Sunday Times: ‘These tactics are shameless. They are predatory and need to stop.

Phoenix Police Search Suspected Cockfighting Operation Site 

A search of a suspected cockfighting operation resulted in 10 people being given citations and numerous roosters being seized, Phoenix police said Friday. Spectators tried to run off when police animal cruelty investigators and Arizona Humane Society personnel arrived to conduct the search Thursday, police said in a statement. According to police, 203 roosters and two dogs described as being in poor health were seized. Investigators obtained a search warrant as a result of a call reporting possible animal cruelty and gambling., police said. Police said their investigation continued.

Mai Vu Vang Arrested In Georgia After Eluding Arrest For 2 Years For $450,000 Swindle

A Brooklyn Center woman was arrested in Georgia last month after allegedly eluding the authorities for more than two years. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says 51-year-old Mai Vu Vang was brought back to Minneapolis over the weekend; she faces six counts of theft by swindle for a scam that allegedly stole nearly half a million dollars from the Minnesota Hmong community. Court documents say Vang left for Georgia while an investigation by the Fridley Police Department and Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau was still active. In June 2017 she was charged in Clark County with false reporting of a crime and obstruction of law enforcement officers. The Hennepin County attorney filed the theft by swindle charges by warrant in December 2017.

Charges in Hennepin County accuse her of orchestrating a fraud scheme — by convincing people to invest in a ginseng farm she claimed to own near Wausau, Wisconsin. Nine victims lost a total of more than $450,000, according to investigators. They say one couple who new Vang from church “gave her their life savings.” At the same time, according to investigators Mystic Lake Casino records show that Vang spent more than one million dollars at the casino between 2012 and 2014. Investigators say “her buy-in increased each year as she took money from the victims,” from less than $75,000 in 2012 to nearly $665,000 in 2014.

Third murder arrest connected to a Jacksonville August robbery

Rayshawnda Robertson was arrested on murder and robbery charges in connection with the death of Clyde Anthony Hamilton back in August. Jacksonville police announced Thursday that they arrested a third person in connection with an August robbery that turned deadly when a security guard was shot. Rayshawnda Robertson, 21, was arrested Wednesday on charges of murder and armed robbery. Last August, police said, a man and woman tried to rob an internet casino, and during the robbery, someone shot Clyde Anthony Hamilton, a 37-year-old security guard who later died. Police didn’t say if they believed they knew who shot the guard. In Florida, someone who commits a felony can be convicted of murder if anyone dies as a result of that felony. Now, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said a police investigation led them to Robertson as a third suspect. It’s not clear what role Robertson Played. Police already arrested Anthony Craig Ansley, a 23-year-old initially identified as Robertson’s boyfriend, and Dewayne Carson Flowers Jr., 30. Ansley and Flowers were also charged with two other robberies.

11 individuals charged with taking Tribal casino funds, includes former Tribal Council members

The charges relate to wrongdoing first uncovered in a Notice of Violation issued by the National Indian Gaming Commission in April 2019. The NIGC, the federal agency that regulates tribal gaming, alleged that nearly $1.5 million dollars of funds had been taken by individuals at the expense of tribal resources, in violation of the laws and regulations that restrict how casino revenues can be used.

The lawsuits filed in the St. Croix Tribal Court allege the defendants used their connections with Tribal and Casino leadership to request payments from the Tribe’s casinos. In some cases, the Tribe alleges the defendants received thousands of dollars in travel advances without providing documentation that the trip occurred, failed to return unused amounts, and sought reimbursement for the same trips from other tribal programs. In other cases, the Tribe alleges the defendants received payments for various projects that never materialized. The Tribe seeks a return of all unlawful payments, damages, and for the defendants that are members of the St. Croix Tribe, a declaration that they are ineligible to run for Tribal Council in the future.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 05/11 – 05/17

Pair of masked gunmen rob illegal coronavirus gambling den, kill host

A pair of masked gunmen robbed an illicit coronavirus gambling den in Brooklyn — and fatally shot the host of the party, police sources said Tuesday. Fifteen people were inside at the time — all gathered around a pool table where they were throwing dice and betting money, sources said. The victim, 48-year-old Kenny Mark, tried to put up a fight but was eventually shot in the torso by one of the gunmen, sources added. Meanwhile, the other suspect grabbed cash off the table, sources said. Mark was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he died. The gunman is apparently known to the victim’s family and was one of the gamblers — but things turned violent when he lost a chunk of money, according to one of the victim’s family members. “A young man lost his money, got mad, went and got a gun, and killed my cousin,” his 60-year-old cousin Darlene Boston told The Post. “They shouldn’t have been playing dice during the pandemic, of course, they shouldn’t be doing that,” she said.

Two Staten Islanders with mob ties seek release from prison due to coronavirus

Eugene “Boobsie” Castelle, a Staten Island man and reputed soldier in the Lucchese organized crime family, and Daniel “Shrek” Capaldo, a Staten Islander and alleged Colombo crime family associate, were both arrested in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Castelle, 60, who is currently seeking appeal on his 2019 conviction for his connection with an illegal gambling operation, recently returned to prison after falling ill with pneumonia, wrote Richard Levitt, his appeal lawyer, in court documents filed Sunday in Manhattan Federal Court. Levitt requested that Castelle, who is currently serving a sentence at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Connecticut, be admitted to “bail pending appeal or, in the alternative, at least until the COVID-1 crisis has subsided.” Levitt said, “at least one Danbury staff member has already tested positive for COVID-19 and inevitably others will,” mentioning the spread of the virus in Rikers Island, where some prisoners have been released.

Gaming casino operators arrested

Hertford County Sheriff Dexter Hayes said that Jamil Marwan Yazaji and Rawad Sabra, both of Jacksonville, Florida, were arrested after a search  of The Best, a gaming casino located at 2327 US 13 South, Ahoskie, was found to be in violation of state laws pertaining to those types of businesses. Hayes said five gambling tables (known as ‘fish tables”) were seized upon the execution of the search warrant. Also seized was $90,232 in U.S. currency as well as two pistols, one of which was reported stolen from Jacksonville, Florida.  Both men were charged with one misdemeanor count of illegal gambling, and one felony count each of operating five or more gaming tables and possession of five or more gaming tables.

Caesars Entertainment fined amid crackdown on gambling addiction

A casino company has been fined a record £13m by the Gambling Commission for failures relating to VIP schemes that the regulator is considering banning. Three senior managers at Caesars Entertainment, which has 11 casinos in UK cities and seaside towns, will also lose their licence to run a gambling business. The sanction marks the second time in less than three weeks that the regulator has handed out a record penalty, after Betway was forced to pay out £11.6m  in March. The tougher stance comes as the commission is under pressure, accused of being too weak after a damning report that said it was being outmuscled by the gambling industry and incapable of ensuring vulnerable people were protected.

The regulator found that Caesars was guilty of a series of serious systematic failings in its treatment of VIPs, who are typically offered perks to inspire loyalty because they bet and lose large sums. The failures included allowing a customer to lose £323,000 in a year, despite clear signs of gambling addiction such as playing for five hours on more than 30 occasions. Another customer who was known to have signed up to “self-exclude” from gambling was allowed to start playing again, losing £240,000 over a 13-month period. Another person, a self-employed nanny, told Caesars she had spent her savings and was borrowing from family and using her overdraft to gamble but the company still allowed her to lose £18,000 in a year. A retired postman also lost £15,000 in 44 days without being properly asked for information about the source of his funds.

Rowan Co. business advertised as arcade raided for illegal gambling

A business in Rowan County, that advertised as an arcade was actually an illegal gambling casino, deputies said. Officers executed a search warrant Wednesday at FishZilla Arcade in Salisbury after a two-month investigation. Deputies said the business is accused of committing multiple violations, including allowing customers to bet credits in violations of state law and paying cash for winnings, which is also a state violation. According to authorities, the business has 37 server-based gaming terminals, four fish tables with 38 terminals and a variety of games. Officials said they seized servers connected to the gaming systems, CPUs, printers, a money counter and other evidence related to the gaming Operation. Officers said having more than five machines to gamble money is a felony.

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A Brief Look at Crime 05/04 – 05/10

PokerStars Founder Pleads Guilty to Illegal Online Gambling

The founder of PokerStars Wednesday to running an illegal online gambling business, nine years after he and other online poker executives were indicted by prosecutors in New York. Isai Scheinberg and 10 other principals at three online gambling companies were charged by federal prosecutors in New York in March 2011 with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling. The other executives have all pleaded guilty and been sentenced. PokerStars agreed in 2012 to pay $731 million to settle the charges with the Justice Department, without admitting wrongdoing. Scheinberg, 73, a dual Canadian and Israeli national, was arrested in Switzerland in June 2019 and was brought to the U.S. in January after  dropping an extradition challenge. He faces as long as five years in prison at sentencing, which has yet to be set.

Suspect in shooting death of Brooklyn man over gambling debt turns himself in, charged with murder

A suspect in the shooting death of a Brooklyn man over a gambling debt turned himself in to police and has been charged with murder, authorities said Tuesday. James Johnson surrendered without a lawyer at the 73rd Precinct station house Monday, cops said. He was charged with murder and gun possession for the slaying of 38-year-old Linton Brown in Brownsville. When questioned, Johnson, 41, said he owed Brown a gambling debt and Brown had repeatedly threatened him and his family while trying to recoup the money, sources said. Johnson has two prior arrests on his record, police sources said, a drug possession bust in 2002 and a gambling rap in 2004.

Bradley Chapman jailed after snatching jewellery and cameras to feed gambling addiction

A PROLIFIC criminal has been jailed after snatching a stash of jewellery and digital cameras to feed his “gambling addiction”. Bradley Chapman, who has 31 previous convictions, smashed through a first-floor bathroom window at a home in Welbeck Road. He rifled through the homeowner’s belongings and drawers stealing a jewellery box, three digital cameras and an assortment of lenses. The 33-year-old who already has five previous convictions for burglary left muddy footprints and even searched the attic while looking for personal items to steal. Now Chapman has been jailed for three years after pleading guilty to one count of domestic burglary. During the trial on March 20, Judge Langley said the victim did not want her victim statement read out in court. He added it was clear there was trauma caused and that Champan’s victim had suffered nightmares and been left feeling anxious.

It’s very underground:’ Dog fighting happening locally, but difficult to track 

Dog fighting is a practice that dates back to ancient times. Now, here in the Valley, it is a practice that is kept secret and hard to track. Dog fighting is where dogs are forced to fight one another, as people watch and place bets. As inhumane as it may seem, it still goes on right here in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. “Dog fighting is found probably in every area, everywhere in the country. It’s not exclusive to any particular neighborhood, any particular state, city, economic background,” said Mary Louk, board president for Animal Charity. Although it is happening, tracking it is what is difficult.

“They do crazy things with these poor dogs. The fighting dogs, I mean, they’re more victims than anything else. They throw them in the back of trunks, and they have loud music, and they scoot around, you know driving fast, crazy to disorient the dogs. Then, they take them out and they see which ones can fight. Also, they’ll put them in with stallions, they’ll put them in with alligators, to get them to fight they really use and abuse them,” said Sharon McElroy, president of the board of Columbiana County Humane Society.

California, Texas Police Confiscate 172 Gaming Machines in Separate Searches (CA)

California authorities recently seized 125 alleged illegal gambling machines from an unlicensed gaming business operating near Modesto, while separately, Dallas authorities confiscated 47 alleged illegal machines in that Texas city, according to news reports. Among them were many that offered fish games. In their search, California authorities also seized three guns from the Modesto region site. These include: a pistol, shotgun and an AR-15 rifle. Authorities searched the alleged illegal gaming operation after following someone there who was on probation. Police had the gaming operation under watch even before the search took place. When law enforcement officers entered the 2,000 square foot building, they saw 29 people. The suspects were detained and placed in handcuffs. Three were arrested. Police and other officials are continuing to investigate the operation.

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A Brief Look at Crime 04/27 – 05/03

Woman stole $50K from Hempfield medical technology firm

State police this week arrested a Greensburg woman on multiple charges of access device fraud and theft for allegedly embezzling about $50,000 from her former employer. Traci L. Himler, 48, is accused of writing checks to herself and making unauthorized bank withdrawals when she worked as business manager of HLH Stem, a Hempfield medical technology firm, between October 2018 and November 2019. Company officials in November noticed discrepancies in bank accounts regarding checks Himler “was writing for the business and in her paychecks,” Trooper Christopher Cole alleges in court documents filed before District Judge Mark Mansour. Business co-owner, Daniel Pepock, told troopers that Himler “was paying herself well above her ($42,000 annual salary),” court records said.

In an interview with Cole and Trooper Brandon Yeager, Cole said Himler admitted the thefts saying that “she had a lot of debt” when she first went to work for the company in the fall of 2018. She told troopers that medical expenses “put her behind financially.” During the period, accountants discovered she increased her $3,500 monthly salary to $4,500. According to court documents, troopers also questioned Himler about multiple ATM withdrawals made at sites where weekly bingo games are held in the area and at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. “(Himler) then indicated that she also has a gambling problem. She indicated that she would go about twice a month spending about $1,000 each trip,” Cole wrote.

Gambling Addict Leaves Baby in Hot Car to Play Bingo

A mother has left her 14-month old son in a sweltering hot car while she went to play bingo leaving the child fighting for his life. The Australian gambling addict abandoned her child in temperatures exceeding 40 degree Celsius for a period of five hours and was known to be a long-time regular at the slot machine venue. The 32-year-old mother had been seen periodically checking on the child before returning inside. On returning to the car she found the baby unresponsive and called on bystanders to help her perform CPR until medical assistance arrived. Campaigners immediately blamed a spiralling gambling problem in the state of Victoria citing a lack of support from the government. Others took aim at what they described as a weak justice system that fails to protect the innocent. The incident took place less than a month after the Australian government started a campaign to highlight the awareness of leaving young children in cars outside. Temperatures can easily exceed 47 degrees Celsius after a single hour.

Woman charged with embezzling money from Catholic Cemeteries

A woman has been charged with embezzling nearly $60,000 from Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes. On Tuesday, Maricopa County prosecutors filed charges against Lisa Sue Gonwa, 53, for theft and fraud. Prosecutors say that Gonwa worked for Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes, which is operated by the Diocese of Phoenix, as an accounting clerk and data entry supervisor. In the fall of 2017, a customer contacted Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes regarding a possible overcharge.

They provided information regarding three money orders used to pay the contract in full. The company contacted their bank and allegedly found out that the “pay to” section of the money orders were changed to Gonwa’s name. Investigators say an analysis of business records showed 125 altered money orders, totaling over $58,000, were deposited into Gonwa’s personal account. When questioned, Gonwa did not recall altering the money orders but did acknowledge her signature endorsing the money orders. She also allegedly told police that she had excessive medical bills, a title loan, and gambling debts.

Upper Saddle River man accused of impersonating bankers in $4M credit scheme

U.S. attorneys say a Bergen County man impersonated prominent bankers and fleeced four business organizations and their financial agents for millions in credit lines that didn’t exist. Matthew O’Callaghan, 43, of Upper Saddle River was arrested Thursday on charges that he assumed the false identities of the president and vice president of a national bank and offered credit lines to various American and international companies, as well as financial institutions that represent them, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In return, his victims paid almost $4 million in fees deposited directly into a private account at the bank he had pretended to represent over four years, from 2016 until 2019, attorneys said. O’Callaghan allegedly used the fees to fund a “lavish lifestyle,” according to a copy of his indictment, that included payments to a private club, an automobile, globetrotting and gambling.

Blackjack Winners Shot and Robbed After Masked Gunmen Followed Them Home from Maryland Casino

Details have emerged of a violent robbery following big Blackjack wins at the MGM National Harbor casino in Maryland last December, one player shot in the arm as the robbers stole $39,000 from him. Three suspects in the crime have been identified, first reported by the Washington Post, although the names of the victims and alleged perpetrators have not been released. It appears to have been a co-ordinated hit by the armed robbers, CCTV footage of them following two winning Blackjack players through the casino to the parking garage, and then 20 miles by car to the victims’ homes in Woodbridge, Virginia, before attacking them. The victims had won $39,000 and $3,000 respectively at the tables on December 19th, 2019 before their horrific ordeal.

Surveillance footage shows the suspects communicating via mobile phones as they followed the two marks and footage from a gas station CCTV camera en route later shows a grey SUV similar to the masked attackers’ car still on their tail. What happened next was harrowing for the victims, one being struck in the head 20 times before being shot in the arm. The second victim also had a gun pulled on him and forced to lie on the ground. Both victims are said to be recovering from the attack.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 04/20 – 04/26

UK iGaming Firms Under Fire For Targeting Problem Gamblers During Covid-19 Lockdown

The social distancing guidelines necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to widespread lockdowns in an effort to quell the spread of the coronavirus in the UK. With captive market of gamblers stuck at home with few options to relieve their boredom, online operators are having a heyday and are running aggressive marketing campaigns.

UK online gaming operators are accused of irresponsible marketing tactics geared toward problem gamblers. Online gambling firms have been observed *offering generous welcome bonuses of £1,000 or more across* social media. Bookmakers have also been accused of inadequately checking for the use of stolen money in wagers they receive, according to a report filed by an ex-detective.

A number of addiction researchers, medical professionals, and MPs have alleged that iGaming firms are taking advantage of vulnerable gamblers via their advertising barrage. The UK’s leading mental health authority has condemned such tactics, calling them shameful. With the suspension of many mainstream sports events leading to a dearth of betting action, many online bookmakers are looking toward the promotion of online casino games to recoup some of their losses.

Man convicted of manslaughter in Honolulu game room shooting

A First Circuit Court jury has convicted Manu Sorensen of manslaughter — instead of murder — in the fatal game room shooting of 31-year-old Jacob Feliciano. It took jurors a little over a day to deliberate the fate of Sorensen, who was convicted of firing a single shot that killed Feliciano during a botched robbery on Sept. 29, 2018, at an illegal gambling house in Ala Moana. While jurors opted for manslaughter, which carries a maximum 20-year prison term, Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell will seek enhanced sentencing of life in prison with the possibility of parole, the same punishment as murder, at a separate trial. “In this case, the defense was an all-or-nothing defense where they were contesting that the defendant was even the shooter,” Bell told reporters outside the courtroom following the verdict today. “There was no direct evidence as to his state of mind, what he was thinking or what he intended, the prosecution can only infer that based on the facts … the jury concluded that the defendant acted recklessly. Namely by firing the gun in the way he did, the location of the shot and the subsequent injuries he was reckless … causing the decedent’s death.”

Newcastle United fan prayed for jail sentence after losing £200,000 through gambling addiction

A lifelong Newcastle United fan who became an online gambling addict lost £200,000 after his life spiralled out of control. Steve Ramsey, of Newcastle, prayed to be sent to jail after his addiction landed in him court for stealing money from his employer. He was sentenced to 27 months in jail after his addiction saw him substitute his personal bank details for his work one. As the addiction took hold, he would spend thousands of pounds of gambling and finally confessed when it reached £192,000. The 53-year-old got hooked to online gambling 10 years ago and it was after winning £140 when Aston Villa scored against West Brom that his life changed. He said: “£140 was won in a blink of an eye. It was exciting, exhilarating and easy. “I had never felt that feeling before whilst gambling. I had discovered in play betting and it was instant, easy accessible and literally available 24 hours per day.”

Record £11.6m UK gambling fine meted out to Betway

The online betting firm Betway will pay a record £11.6m settlement for accepting stolen money from high-spending “VIP” customers, some of whom were displaying clear signs of gambling addiction. The Gambling Commission, which has been under fire for being too weak, said its investigation showed that Betway had allowed £5.8m to flow through the business, some of which was stolen money. It said Betway, whose investors include the South African entrepreneur Martin Moshal, had proved “inadequate” in its dealings with seven customers, failing to fulfil its obligations to prevent both money laundering and problem gambling. While the £11.6m penalty package is a record, dwarfing the £7.8m that the online casino 888 paid in 2017, the commission opted not to use its power to suspend or revoke Betway’s licence to operate, despite a long list of failures by the company. Betway accepted £8m of deposits over four years from one customer, who lost £4m and whose account was flagged as a potential risk 20 times.

Venetian Rape Suspect Caught by Facial Recognition Technology 

A Las Vegas man who allegedly raped a woman in her room at The Venetian was quickly identified and arrested using facial recognition technology, Metro Police said. Donovan Daray Fox, 27, later admitted to police that he gained access to the victim’s room after he found an envelope with a room number and a key card, which she had inadvertently dropped on the casino floor. According to the police report, the victim had been visiting Las Vegas with her husband and friends. After spending time at the casino, she decided to call it a night and headed to her room without her husband. Fox found the keycard at around 2:41 a.m. soon after he entered the casino. He was later caught on surveillance cameras following two women up to the 14th floor, before committing a lewd act outside a room. Fox then proceeded to the victim’s room on the 25^th floor. The woman told police she woke up to find Fox raping her. She told him her husband was on the way up and the suspect fled.

The police did not elaborate on exactly how facial recognition was employed in the case. Metro Police have used the technology for some time, but unlike some police departments, the LVMPD Technical Operations Section only compares suspect images to a database of past arrests. They do not use controversial technology like Clearview, for example, which scrapes social media for billions of images of regular citizens. And while Las Vegas casinos are notoriously tight-lipped about security, they are known to have used facial recognition tools since the 1990s, primarily to detect and identify banned or problem gamblers.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 04/13 – 04/19

Dealers, Players Cheated Casino Out of Over $100,000 

Two blackjack players and three dealers conspired to cheat a Connecticut casino operated by the Mohegan tribe out of over $100,000 in 2018, according to tribal police. Three of the five people named in court documents have been charged to date with their involvement in illegal bets, according to an arrest warrant affidavit written by Mohegan Tribal Police Detective John Graves. Former Mohegan Sun dealers Darius J. Rook, 22, of Norwich and Aneesah Ahmad, 24, of Montville and player Victor Jesus Garcia, 36, of Yonkers, New York, have all pleaded not guilty to first-degree larceny and cheating at gambling, The Day reported Monday. The investigation began in May 2018 when the casino surveillance department began a review of dealer error between Garcia and another dealer. Garcia allegedly cheated with all three dealers for a total loss of $83,850 to the casino. Another player cheated with Rook and Dixon for a total of $20,525, according to police.

Harrah Cockfighting Ring Suspects Now Face Nearly 90 Related Charges

The couple busted in a Harrah cockfighting ring in January are in more hot water. Charges in the case have been amended to include 88 cockfighting related charges. Justin McHone, 38, and Tara Gentry, 41, were arrested in January after the multi-jurisdiction Anti-crime Support Effort (MASE) team stumbled across the ring while serving a search warrant on an unrelated case. The ring was located on a property east of Harrah off of Highway 62. The two face one count of instigating or encouraging cockfighting, servicing or facilitating cockfighting, and 86 additional charges of owning, possessing, keeping or training a bird for cockfighting.

“We’ve got a full count of the number of fighting chickens, there were 86 that were confiscated,” said Allan Grub, the Lincoln/Pottawatomie County District Attorney. “Since they admitted to the ownership of all those birds, they had the fighting pen there, we believe all of those charges are maintainable and each of those charges carries up to 10 years a piece.” By the end of January, the Tulsa area nonprofit, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, rescued all 86 roosters and hens. The animals were placed in loving homes. One crime, investigators quickly learned, turned into multiple. “Methamphetamines were found at the residence, there were guns found at the residence, we believe that there was illegal gambling going on,” said Grubb. “It’s just patterns and practices of crimes that we want to discourage in our district.”

Manager Stole Hundreds of Thousands From Sunny Isles Beach Condos

A property manager for two Sunny Isles Beach condominiums is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from condo boards that was spent on gambling at a local casino, authorities said. Georgina Pineda, 56, was arrested back in November on a first-degree grand theft charge, and was arrested again on Monday on a similar charge, according to jail records and arrest reports. According to the reports, Pineda had worked as the property manager at the Eden Roc Condominium on N. Bay Road, as well as a condo association manager at the King David Condo on Atlantic Boulevard. While working at the Eden Roc, Pineda had access to the condo’s four bank accounts. The condo board president said he had continually requested a full accounting of board’s operating funds and Pineda made excuses until he went to the bank himself and discovered that hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds had been depleted, the reports said. When the King David did a financial audit of their accounts, it was discovered that between $140,000 and $400,000 in condo funds had been embezzled by Pineda using electronic fund transfers and debit card withdrawals at Miccosukee Gaming and Resort, the reports said.

Former GardaWorld employee convicted after $390,000 was stolen from an armored truck

On Thursday, a Helena man who worked for GardaWorld was convicted by a jury on multiple charges. John Gregory Alexander Herrin, 30, was accused of taking money stolen from a GardaWorld truck and spending it on gambling and shopping in Las Vegas, day trading and traveling to France according to a release from the Department of Justice. The release says while in Missoula, Helena employees kept their truck locked, but unattended, several times while servicing banks and ATMs before going to Kalispell. When the employees arrived in Kalispell, they discovered three bags containing $390,000 were missing. An internal investigation was launched by the company, however, they were unable to definitively implicate anyone in the theft.

Not long after the theft, Herrin’s financial situation drastically changed. According to the release, Herrin went to Las Vegas twice in January 2014 and again in July 2014. While in Las Vegas the first time, Herrin stated at a high-end casino and went shopping with a woman. Herrin made large cash deposits at the casino and paid $22,600 in cash for a watch. After coming back from his first trip, Herrin deposited a cashier’s check and cash into his checking account totaling $160,870. Herrin told the bank teller he went to Las Vegas with $500 and won $160,000 gambling. One former employee who was also a roommate of Herrin indicated that Herrin showed him a casino check for gambling he appeared to have won in January 2014. Herrin’s roommate also said employees sometimes left Garda trucks unattended against company policy, and that a broom handle could be used to unlock the trucks and that he had seen Herrin unlock a truck using a broom handle.

Irvine financial firm co-founder gets prison for fraud 

The co-founder of an Irvine-based financial services and insurance company was sentenced Tuesday to more than 10 years in federal prison for his role in carrying out a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme. Mehmet Faith Biyikoglu, of Palm Desert, was sentenced to 121 months behind bars and ordered to pay approximately $3.5 million in restitution in connection to a scheme aimed at “elderly, retired or financially unsophisticated” victims, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. According to federal prosecutors, the scheme was carried out between 2014 and 2016 while Biyikoglu served as chief executive officer of Five Star Financial Services of America, an Irvine-based financial advisory firm.

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


Animal to Human Transmitted Covid-19 Virus brings new light to Cockfighting and Transference of Diseases like Avian Flu

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various criminal activities associated with cockfighting and the illegal gambling for which it exists, including a recent decision by Puerto Rico to openly disregard new federal legislation. Numerous reasons exist to treat this barbaric activity illegal, but the coronavirus is demonstrating why its even more important to work hard to eradicate cockfighting. An online source explains:

In an emailed statement, Animal Wellness Action recommending banning cockfights for animal health and to prevent the transfer of avian flu to humans.

Due to the impact of the coronavirus, we must look at other risks of animal-human disease transmission including cockfighting, the organization said. Animal Wellness Action argues that handling chickens during cockfights is dangerous and inhumane to both humans and animals.

“China’s leaders were reckless in allowing live-animal markets to flourish even after warnings that capturing and butchering pangolins, civet cats, and other wild animals posed considerable risks of spawning a zoonotic disease,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, in an emailed statement.   “It’s similarly irresponsible for political leaders in any part of the world to have any degree of tolerance for cockfights, which are dangerous mixing bowls where humans and birds interact in ways that can readily pass blood and respiratory fluids to people and infect them.”

According to Dr. Annie Harvilicz, a veterinarian and chief medical officer of the Animal Wellness Foundation, “It’s just foolish to allow people to interact with birds and exchange bodily fluids with them, only for the purpose of gambling on staged fights.   Talk about an unnecessary risk.”

So exactly how does cockfighting allow for the spread of such fluids between birds and humans? At a basic level, respiration alone can cause the transfer, but cockfighting creates additional opportunities.  Roosters are often handled with razors attached to their feet. This is designed to help ensure one of the cocks is killed in the fight, thus making the gambling wager and winner clear cut.  There is animal blood all over the birds and it’s not hard to see a scenario where handling them leads to a slice on human skin and transference.  But beyond that, there is a more shocking scenario that most certainly creates a massive risk, not only for Avian flu, but potentially new, more deadly viruses like Covid-19.  An online source explains:

In what constitutes perhaps the riskiest imaginable practice when it comes to animal-to-human disease transmission, some cockfighters are known to put the head of a rooster in their mouth to suck airway secretions from the injured and exhausted animal. For the cockfighter, sucking up the blood and other secretions from the lungs and other air passages after the animal has suffered a stab wound is not a life-saving intervention, but a way to prolong the fighting and pull out an unlikely victory.

Cockfighters in Puerto Rico and Guam — the two biggest U.S. territories and both international hubs for cockfighting – are not only breaking the federal law against animal fighting, but they’re courting the next wave of avian influenza and other zoonotic diseases by handling animals in these dangerous ways. The hard-core practitioners are persisting with felony-level crimes three months after the latest provisions of federal law took effect.

Once roosters in a locale are infected with avian influenza, perhaps through contact with migratory birds with an innocuous form of avian influenza, the virus can reassort and become more virulent or contagious. At cockfights, men handle bloodied birds, with knives attached to their legs, potentially exposing the handlers to cuts. The blood and infectious respiratory secretions from an infected bird can infect them, allowing the virus to jump the species barrier. At that point additional reassortment can occur where avian and human influenza viruses mix and create a new, deadly virus like the Spanish Flu or COVID-19.

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