Category Archives: Crime

A Brief Look at Crime 10/16 – 10/22

Las Vegas shooting: At least 50 dead in massacre Trump calls ‘act of pure evil’

A gunman turned a Las Vegas concert into a killing field Sunday night from his perch on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, using at least 10 guns to rain down a steady stream of fire, murdering at least 50 people and injuring more than 400 others in the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history. The suspect, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada. Police initially sought a woman believed to be Paddock’s roommate, Marilou Danley, as a “person of interest.” Detectives later made contact with her, and “do not believe she is involved with the shooting on The Strip.” President Trump said the mass shooting “was an act of pure evil,” and praised first responders in an address to the nation. “To the families of the victims, we are praying for you and we are here for you,” Trump said, adding that he will visit Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with first responders and families.

Did gambling debts drive Las Vegas gunman to madness?

Police investigating Stephen Paddock’s murder spree in Las Vegas on Sunday face a perplexing question: What drove this seemingly ordinary ex-accountant to kill 59 people and injure 527 more? With no criminal convictions – or even parking tickets – to his name, no history of mental illness and no clear political or religious affiliations, Paddock seems like an ordinary, quietly prosperous real estate speculator. But he did have one dark side: A gambling obsession that saw him splashing tens of thousands of dollars in Vegas casinos in the weeks before his murder-suicide spree. Could this have driven Paddock to madness and ultimately murder?

Eric didn’t know whether his brother was suffering financial issues or had gambling debts and speculated that he could lose $1 million and still have enough to live on. Paddock also had two planes registered to his name. But in the weeks before his meticulously planned and terrifying attack, Paddock had gambled more than $10,000 a day – sometimes even more than $30,000 – in Las Vegas casinos. That information came from someone who had seen Paddock’s Multiple Currency Transaction Reports (CTR) and a casino gaming executive, NBC reported.

Local woman stole millions from business to gamble

A 65-year-old woman embezzled more than two million dollars and spent it gambling. Charlotte Pottorff pleaded guilty to two counts of felony embezzlement, one count of perjury and one count of felony tax evasion in Bonneville County court on Sept. 11. Pottorff began working as a bookkeeper for Val Erickson, the owner of Dura-Bilt, Dura-Bilt Transmission and A&D Investments, in 1999. According to court documents, Erickson suspects the embezzlement began when she started working for him. According to court documents, Pottorff covered her tracks by making purchases for the company at a higher price than the items’ actual cost. She would then issue herself a check for the difference. She would issue these checks directly to herself or to bank accounts believed to be hers. She was the only one who had control over issuing checks and balancing the business’ accounts. According to court documents, Erickson discovered the theft after Pottorff retired from working for him. Erickson hired Fraud Examiner Daniel Packard to conduct a forensic audit of his business accounts. According to court documents, Packard determined an approximate $2,325,504.89 was misappropriated between the years of 2006 to 2017.

Ex-cashier hopes judge OKs 7½ years in prison on $13M theft

A woman convicted of stealing nearly $13 million from a Pittsburgh monuments and engraving firm is hoping a federal judge will approve a plea deal that calls for her to serve 7½ years in prison. Cynthia Mills pleaded guilty in March to mail fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion and money laundering for taking the money from Matthews International Corp. from 1999 to 2015. She was the company’s cashier. The Robinson Township woman has agreed to forfeit three homes, a yacht and two other boats, at least eight cars, and other items bought with the money, though her attorney, Phil DiLucente, has said she blew most of the money on casino gambling. Mill is also expected to pay back whatever debts can’t be covered by the asset forfeitures.

Illegal gambling, not robbery, led to deadly Jefferson County shooting, deputies say

A 66-year-old Jefferson County man is charged with capital murder in a deadly shooting at his business that he initially claimed was self-defense during a robbery. The shooting happened about 10 a.m. on July 3 at Black Diamond Paving on Old Jasper Highway. The business, which was officially closed that Monday, is in the Bagley community. Chief Deputy Randy Christian on Thursday said over the course of the investigation, detectives discovered evidence that indicated Rhode’s claim of an attempted robbery was false. Detectives learned that Rhodes was running an illegal gambling establishment at the business, and that two weeks prior to the shooting, the business had been robbed at gunpoint by two men in a gold car. On the day of the shooting, Cole and his friend went to the business to gamble, Christian said. They never made it to the building because they thought they were at the wrong place.

Fugitive accused of stealing to pay for gambling debt

The District Attorney’s Office is looking for a man who they say let a gambling habit get so far out of control that he ended up committing nearly three dozen felonies. Stephen Chitren is wanted on 33 counts of theft. Between 2012 and 2015, District Attorney Steve Wolfson says he ripped off United Blood Services to the tune of $128,000 with company-issued credit cards. “He was going down to a couple of local bars, the Copper Keg and the Tap House, and he was using these credit cards to get cash advances in amounts from $100 anywhere up to $600,” Wolfson explained. According to Wolfson, it all began with a gambling problem. Chitren got so deep, he started stealing from a company where he’d worked for 20 years. 

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

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Update: Major Sports Leagues Submit Briefs to Supreme Court Regarding New Jersey Sports Gambling Case; Outlines Why the PASPA is Constitutional

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by New Jersey to legalize sports gambling. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case and not surprisingly, casino lobbyist pushed forward with there support to legalize sports gambling for all states through the New Jersey case. They are claiming that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) violates the Constitution by making States enforce a Federal law. The Legal Sports Report explains: 

The NCAA and thepro sports leagues argued in their *US Supreme Court brief today that the federal sports betting ban is constitutional. Here is the crux of the leagues’ argument from today’s brief regarding PASPA, the federal law
banning sports betting outside of Nevada:

“PASPA lacks the irreducible minimum of any successful commandeering claim: It does not compel states or state officials to do anything. States are not required to enact laws, to take title to something, to conduct background checks, to consider federal standards, to expend funds, or to enforce federal law. Proving the point, New Jersey fully complied with PASPA for two decades without doing anything.

That is because PASPA only prohibits states from sponsoring,operating, advertising, or promoting sports-gambling schemes, and prohibits states from licensing or authorizing third parties to engage in that conduct. PASPA does not force states to take any affirmative action to comply with those prohibitions.

Thus, while petitioners portray PASPA as an anomalous effort to enlist states to do the federal government’s bidding, the reality is that PASPA is an unremarkable effort to preclude states from engaging in certain conduct and to preempt state laws that license or authorize others to do the same.”

And further:

“But Congress does not commandeer the states just because it limits their policy options, and nothing in the Tenth Amendment prevents Congress from using its commerce power to preempt state laws that contravene federal policy. The difference between permissible preemption and impermissible commandeering is that the former precludes certain state action, while the latter commands it. PASPA falls comfortably in the former, permissible camp.”

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A Brief Look at Crime 10/09 – 10/15

Five years after introduction, study says video gambling leading to crime upticks

September marked the five-year anniversary of video gaming legalization in Illinois. A new report claims that the societal costs of gambling may not be worth the tax revenue. According to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, Illinois received $1.3 billion in revenue from wagering in fiscal year 2017. Video gaming accounted for more than 20 percent of that. As of July 2017, there are 27,145 video gaming machines operating in Illinois. That’s more than any other state, including Nevada. Released in August, the study, titled “Can’t Stop the One-Armed Bandits: The Effects of Access to Gambling on Crime,” found that being near at least one video gambling establishment is associated with an average 6.7 percent increase in property crime and a 7.5 percent spike in violent crime in the areas around Chicago. Despite the fact that video gaming isn’t allowed in Chicago, there are more than 10,000 machines surrounding the city. That’s the equivalent to eight casinos. “Since the time video gambling was adopted, we estimate that it contributed an additional: 119.5 sexual assaults, 322.7 aggravated batteries, 992.7 robberies, 692.2 burglaries, 1,562.3 larcenies, and 1,123.7 motor vehicle thefts,” the study states. “This amounts to a total cost of almost $55.5 million.”

Seventh Circuit affirms Emerald casino executives liable for $272 million

The ruling was the culmination of a legal path stretching back more than 20 years for Emerald Casino, which had an Illinois gaming license to operate in East Dubuque in the state’s far northwest corner. Emerald, a riverboat gaming operation, operated profitably in 1993, but then began to struggle to compete with a new casino across the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa. By early 1996, Emerald had stopped operating a casino and began devoting its time to lobbying the Illinois legislature to pass an act that would allow it to relocate. In the meantime, it had to renew its gaming license. The board voted unanimously to deny Emerald’s renewal application, citing Emerald’s “non‐responsive application,” “inadequate gaming operation,” financial inviability, “significant compliance short‐ comings,” failure to “provide for positive economic development and impact” and general noncompliance with the Riverboat Gambling Act. The defendants also were forced to defend allegations that Emerald was tied to organized crime – a primary concern when the board decided to revoke Emerald’s license. A district court ruling had found the casino executives were on the hook for breach-of-contract claims after the casino tanked. That decision had found each defendant severally liable. In valuing damages, the district court apportioned the $272 million equally among six defendants: John McMahon, Kevin Flynn, Donald Flynn, Kevin Larson, Joseph McQuaid and Walter Hanley.

3 wearing disguises shoot security guard, rob Casino Queen

The heist is the first of its kind at the casino since it opened in 1993, according to Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Mark Doiron. The casino was closed following the robbery, and a security guard was stopping cars from entering the parking lot Sunday morning. In an emailed statement Sunday, the casino said it would reopen when the authorities complete their investigation. Doiron gave this account of what took place at the casino: At 2:51 a.m., three armed men entered the Casino Queen and fired several shots. The three took an undetermined amount of money from registers at a cashier cage. During the heist, an unarmed security guard was shot by one of the robbers. The robbers then fled. The guard was taken to a St. Louis hospital. His condition was not available but authorities said he was stable. Patrons scattered during the chaos, and police were interviewing witnesses and attempting to view video surveillance of the getaway vehicle. “We are trying to figure out who these people are right now,” he said.Police said no patrons were injured. The robbery comes on the heel of protests in St. Louis related to the verdict of Jason Stockley, but authorities said there were no immediately apparent links.

Fired Tulsa banker committed fraud to pay his bookie nearly $200,000, feds say

A former Tulsa banking executive siphoned nearly $200,000 from his employer to pay off gambling debts, federal prosecutors say. Blake Brian Ferguson, 36, was named Tuesday in a four-count criminal information that alleges he paid his gambling debts by committing a variety of fraudulent activities while employed at Firstar Bank N.A., where he was senior vice president. One of the counts alleges that Ferguson caused an $81,000 check to be drawn on a Firstar customer’s account and made payable to Ferguson’s bookie to be presented to another bank. The charging document, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, states that beginning in about 2008 or 2009 Ferguson engaged in gambling activities, which escalated around 2013 “and caused him to accumulate substantial amounts of gambling debt.” To pay off the debt, Ferguson fraudulently caused increases to Firstar customer lines of credit, advances of customer loan proceeds, approvals of customer account overdrafts and draws on funds to enable him to siphon funds illegally from the bank, according to the document.

Ex-Newark watershed director sentenced to 8 years for kickback scheme

The former director of the now-defunct Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison Friday for her role in a $1 million kickback scheme in which she solicited bribes in exchange for no-work or over-inflated contracts. Linda Watkins Brashear, 57, of West Orange, oversaw the agency once tasked with treating and delivering water to northern New Jersey residents and admitted in court she struggled with a gambling addiction during the last few years of her tenure. She previously pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and filing a false income tax return and faced up to 14-17 years behind bars. But her attorney Michael Baldassare argued for leniency based on her substantial cooperation with authorities and her gambling addiction.

Lifestyle, gambling behind most embezzlement

It’s not uncommon for embezzlement to go undetected for years, according to a 2016 study of more than 2,000 major embezzlement cases reviewed by Marquet International, a Massachusetts litigation and security consulting firm. Women are twice as likely to embezzle but men steal twice as much as female workers, said the study that listed the desire for a more lavish lifestyle and gambling addiction as the two major causes of work-related theft. The opportunity to take money and a lack of oversight are common elements of embezzlement, said the LeRoy lawyer. “Nobody ever expects it will happen to them.”

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


A Brief Look at Crime 10/02 – 10/08

Man Ordered to Pay Back Money Stolen From Gambling Pal He Dismembered

Ming Jiang, who dismembered his friend’s body and dumped his torso in a suitcase, _*is refusing to leave his cell Jiang was ordered to pay back the tens of thousands of pounds he stole from his victim. Jiang, a professional fraudster, was sentenced to life for the brutal murder of his gambling pal Yang Liu at his flat in Beswick then dumping his torso in a suitcase found burned in a lay-by next to the A628 near Tintwistle in Derbyshire. The victim’s limbs were never recovered. The savage killer then stole Mr Liu’sidentity and attempted to steal money and assets in order to pay off his gambling debts totalling nearly £275,000. He was ordered to pay £48,188 by Judge John Potter within three months or risk another 12 months being added to his sentence.

Gambling Addict brutally murdered his two children in failed murder suicide

Kathleen, from Bagnelstown, Co Carlow, revealed she uncovered an email and suspected suicide note penned by the fiend urging their loved ones to “raise a glass to Kathleen and the boys”. Gardai believe the gambling addict wrote the sinister message over fears his €56,000 embezzlement scam of a local community would be uncovered. And just days after his fraud came to light, the killer drove his children to Mayo before murdering them and dumping their bodies in the boot of his car. He was later arrested after he failed in a bid to kill himself by driving his Ford Focus into a wall. Speaking exclusively to the Irish Sun on the fourth anniversary of the horrific double murder, a distraught Kathleen confirmed her plans to divorce the child-killer.

‘Boomer and Carton’ radio host Craig Carton arrested

Sports radio host Craig Carton was arrested Wednesday on fraud charges alleging he operated a Ponzi scheme and engaged in a ticket-selling scam that raised over $5 million, partly to repay millions of dollars in gambling debts. Conspiracy, securities and wire fraud charges were unsealed in Manhattan federal court against the host of WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton” show. He was arrested at his Manhattan home before dawn, before he was scheduled to go on air, authorities said. In a related civil case, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Carton in mid-2016 solicited investments in ticket reselling enterprises after he accrued millions of dollars’ worth of gambling-related debts to casinos and other third parties. The SEC said he provided fabricated and forged documents to investors, claiming access to large quantities of face-value tickets to upcoming concerts by artists including Adele, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Roger Waters, Metallica, and Barbra Streisand.

Former financial adviser to Mike Tyson and Glen Rice sentenced for embezzling $1 million

Brian J. Ourand, 56, a former executive with a Washington, D.C.-based management group owned by Live Nation Entertainment, pleaded guilty in federal court in February to one count of wire fraud and agreed to pay back $1 million that he embezzled from Tyson, Rice and two other athletes and spent on personal services, travel, dining and gambling debts, among other purchases. “All I can say is I am sorry for the pain, shame and embarrassment that I caused for the clients, and for family and friends,” said Ourand now of Chicago. His defense had sought a sentence of one year, citing letters of support from family members, colleagues, friends, teachers and another client, basketball player Rod Strickland. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan disagreed, saying, “the position of trust that you abused,” the nature of the offense, Ourand’s relatively privileged background “and the egregious manner in which you stole from clients merits a higher sentence.”

Attorney general Shapiro announces arrests in Westmoreland, Fayette video poker machine scheme

Two Scottdale men face charges related to 126 illegal video poker machines seized from 25 bars in Westmoreland and Fayette counties, according to state Attorney General Josh Shapiro. James Tartal, 54, and Edward DeLuca, 50, both of Scottdale, are charged with operating a corrupt organization, conspiracy, possession of illegal gambling devices and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities. The pair operated Zucco Vending, according to the attorney general’s office, placing poker machines in bars throughout the two counties and allegedly paying out illegal winnings in the fall of 2014. Undercover agents played the machines and received payouts, according to a release from Shapiro’s office. In addition to payouts, the machines also violate state law by being equipped with internal “knock off” devices that erase a player’s credits following a payout. Investigators seized $312,000 in cash from a safe in a hidden room in Tartal’s home. Investigators seized another $84,000 in cash from a warehouse in Scottdale. And, a total of $241,422 in five bank accounts controlled by Zucco Vending at PNC Bank were frozen by police. PNC Bank was responsive to law enforcement’s requests for information.

Celebrity Art Dealer Jonathan Poole Jailed After Stealing $668,000 Worth Of Art

An art dealer who was most known for fraternizing with artists, celebrities, rock stars, supermodels, and business elites has been jailed for stealing various forms of artwork over thirty years, including paintings and sculptures. The 69-year-old Jonathan Poole was put in prison for four years after being compared to the famous villain from the film “The Thomas Crown Affair.” Poole worked out of two separate galleries throughout his life and specialized in selling artwork created by stars like Miles Davis, John Lennon, and former Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. According to the prosecutors of the case, Poole is believed to have used the money to fund gambling problems, service debts, or for a possible retirement fund. Jonathan pleaded guilty to twenty-six different offenses including fraud against nine different people and the artwork in total was over $668,000.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 09/25 – 10/01

Father, son plead guilty to running illegal sports betting ring out of San Diego card room

A father and son accused of running a bookmaking operation out of the Lucky Lady Casino and Card Room on El Cajon Boulevard pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court Tuesday to a racketeering conspiracy. Segal’s son, Sydney Segal, 34, was an employee who managed the cage at the casino and admitted to co-mingling the illegal wagers with the card room’s legal profits, according to the plea agreement. He further admitted to acting as the operation’s bookkeeper, keeping a record of winning and losing bets. The indictment alleges the operation generated nearly $1 million in profits. Sanders Segal received 10 percent of profits in the enterprise, he admitted.

Teen Sitter, Her Mom and Beau Abandoned Infant at NY Casino

A 14-year-old babysitter, her 16-year-old boyfriend and the sitter’s 44-year-old mother have been arrested after allegedly abandoning a 9-month-old child at a Long Island casino. Authorities say the infant’s mother hired the teenage sitter, who claimed to be 18, from a childcare website on Monday. The mother didn’t arrive to pick her baby up at the pre-designated time, and the trio called police around 6:40 p.m. When cops got to the home in Ronkonkoma, police say the caregivers said they had resolved the issue and had arranged to meet the baby’s mother.

The sitter’s mother, Dejuana Stewart, and her daughter, who live in Ronkonkoma, along with the teenager’s 16-year-old boyfriend, who lives in Brooklyn, arranged to meet the baby’s mother at Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino in Islandia. But there was an argument about pick-up arrangements and payment, and the trio ended up leaving the baby in a carrier on a bench outside, according to police. The teenage boyfriend was the one who left the carrier, police say. He initially walked back to the car, but then went back to the bench, picked up the baby and brought the child inside to a security guard, officials say. The boyfriend told security he found the baby outside, police say. He then went back outside and drove off with his girlfriend and her mom.

Online gambling firm 888 hit with record £7.8m penalty

The Gambling Commission said there were “significant flaws” in the firm’s social responsibility processes. The regulator highlighted a technical failure which meant 7,000 customers who had chosen to bar themselves from their 888 accounts were still able to gamble. Another customer bet more than £1.3m over 13 months before he was identified as having a problem. The Gambling Commission said “the lack of interaction with the customer, given the frequency, duration and sums of money involved in the gambling, raised serious concerns about 888’s safeguarding of customers at-risk of gambling harm”. The chief executive of rival betting company Ladbrokes Coral told the BBC that the whole sector was in the process of learning how best to manage the problem of vulnerable gamblers. “We have a responsibility to look after our customers. Ladbrokes Coral are also on that journey and there are issues that we’ve found in the past. But we are working with the Gambling Commission,” said Jim Mullen.

Arizona man accused of stealing $711K in taxes from clients

An Arizona man has been indicted for allegedly stealing more than $700,000 in federal employment taxes from Phoenix-area businesses over a two-year period. Internal Revenue Service officials say John Chandler Propstra is accused of tax evasion and is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 13 in U.S. District Court in Phoenix. Authorities say Propstra owned and operated entities that acted as outsourced human resources departments for his small- and medium-sized business clients who didn’t want to handle payroll or other functions internally. Investigators say Propstra failed to pay the IRS nearly $711,000 in employment taxes from his clients’ businesses in tax years 2010 and 2011. They say Propstra spent most of the money on trips to Hawaii and Las Vegas, gambling online and at casinos, jewelry and tickets to sporting events.

Men posed as law enforcement before killing Kissimmee man

Osceola County deputies said two suspects accused of shooting and killing a Kissimmee man posed as law enforcement officers before robbing the victim. Darvis Houston was shot and killed in March at an illegal after-hours gambling location, deputies said. Investigators said two masked men, now identified as Chrisson Nicolaas, 31, and Christopher Brooks, 30, walked into Versatile Motor Sports on Michigan Avenue after posing as law enforcement officers and robbed Houston. Police said the men dressed in generic police gear. A struggle ensued and Houston was shot and killed, deputies said.

Bookkeeper who stole more than $1 million gets prison term

A bookkeeper who stole more than $1 million from her former employer to fuel her addictions is now headed to state prison. Virginia DeBerri received a six-year sentence on Friday. The 53-year-old Brick woman had pleaded guilty in January to theft by unlawful taking. Monmouth County prosecutors say DeBerri wrote herself more than 500 unauthorized company checks over a five-year period and deposited them into her personal bank account. She also increased her own salary by manipulating the company’s payroll without authorization. DeBerri’s attorney said his client has long struggled with Xanax, alcohol and gambling addictions and used the stolen money to finance those addictions.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 09/11 – 09/17

Addicted gambler gets house arrest after stealing $1 million

A Burford woman who stole almost $1 million from her CIBC employer was given a remarkably light sentence in Ontario Court last week due to her equally remarkable response to the crimes. Margaret Pepper, 56, was sentenced to a form of house arrest for two years rather than being sent to jail, which is typical for frauds of that magnitude. Pepper’s story began when she and co-workers from the CIBC’s Lynden Park Mall branch celebrated a birthday at the Brantford Casino. It started a major gambling addiction for the woman as she returned repeatedly to the casino, eventually spending $100,000 of her own funds and those of family. According to police, Pepper then began using her bank position to transfer money between client accounts and open new accounts in the names of some clients. Her scheme worked from October 2010 until November 2014 when an internal bank audit uncovered the theft. By that time, the bank had lost nearly $1 million, although it ensured no clients were out of pocket. The bank wasn’t initially named because it insisted, as the victim of a crime, it didn’t want to be identified. Pepper wasn’t charged until February 2016 and by that time, despondent at what she had done, she tried to take her own life.

‘Friction in gambling territory’: Vaughan kingpin Mark Peretz shot

Former Vaughan resident and illegal online gambling businessman Mark Peretz was the victim of an organized crime hit-style shooting at Sherway Gardens, according to CTV News. The news organization said it was told by a police source that it was Peretz who was shot in a brazen shooting at the Etobicoke mall on Aug. 16, around 7:30 p.m., that left him in life-threatening condition. According to an eyewitness in a CBC report, a man dressed in black with a mask suddenly appeared outside the mall and started firing into the driver’s side window of a car with a firearm that appeared to be fitted with a silencer. Peretz rose to infamy in the GTA after he was sentenced to nine years in prison for helping to mastermind an intended hit on reputed mobster Michele Modica. Getaway driver Peretz’s associates, Antonio Borrelli of Richmond Hill and Hells Angels member Paris Christoforou, fired 20 bullets in a failed attempt to kill Modica, who allegedly owed some $130,000 worth of gambling debts to Peretz. Reputed mobster Pietro “Peter” Scarcella was also sentenced to 10 years in prison for the incident.

Robbery suspect shoots 3 in Fort Worth, prompting gambling investigation

A robbery suspect is believed to have shot three people overnight, prompting an investigation into gambling at the building in East Fort Worth, police said. Three people had entered the building and attempted to rob three other people, police spokesman Daniel Segura said. The victims refused to cooperate, and one of the gunmen opened fire. He struck one person in the abdomen and another person was wounded in the leg. Police believe the third victim was also shot but left before officers arrived, Segura said. Detectives are also investigating gaming at the location, which is listed online as Pamir Smoke Shop.

Video Gambling Linked to Crime Spike

A new study led by economists at the University of Illinois suggests that access to video gambling is responsible for an increase of violent crime and property crime in Chicago. The Video Gaming Act of Illinois took effect in 2012, allowing local businesses with a liquor license to have up to four gambling terminals; presently, there are somewhere around 6,000 video gambling parlors in the state. Chicago maintains its 1993 ban on gambling, but access to video gambling has increased in the city thanks to its adoption by neighboring municipalities. Unlike other gambling studies which have been region- or state- specific, the authors analyzed block-level data. Drawing on police reports between January 2006 and June 2016, as well as monthly data on establishments with video gambling from the Illinois Gaming Board, the study found that “access to gambling adds on average 0.10 and 0.28 violent and property crimes per block group each month. In other words, legalizing video gambling has contributed to approximately 1,450 and 4,100 additional violent and property crimes in  Chicago since the Video Gaming Act took effect.”

While former studies have found a positive link between casinos and increased crime, the authors point out that “crime effects due to casino openings are driven by multiple mechanisms, not just gambling itself,” including an increase of visitors to counties where a casino has opened. By looking at video gambling only, researchers were able to eliminate factors extraneous to gambling.

North-east IT worker jailed after taking £1 million from council

A council IT expert who admitted swindling more than £1 million of public cash has been jailed. Mark Conway, 52, from Brechin began siphoning off local authority money into his own bank account to pay online gambling debts. He got away with the fraud for seven years before bosses at Dundee City Council grew suspicious. Conway, who admitted defrauding £1,065,085, lost the money betting on football matches. The offence was committed between August 2009 and May last year. Only £7,337 of the money was recovered. Judge Graeme Buchanan told first offender Conway: “I accept it was your addiction to gambling that led to the commission of this crime. “However, that is no excuse for what you did.” Judge Buchanan told Conway it was “a serious breach of trust.”

Identity theft, bank fraud at local casinos earns prison term 

A Las Vegas man was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for defrauding casinos, including two large local Native American operations. Frank Luo 49, was sentenced by Judge Kim Mueller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento. Luo and a conspirator are accused of causing losses of more than $1.1 million to casinos and credit card companies. From 2008 to 2014, Luo used fake identities along with the names and Social Security numbers of migrant workers to apply for credit at casinos, called casino markers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A marker is essentially a cash advance from a casino, secured by a check from the patron. Luo and his accomplice would borrow money, and then pay it back, even sometimes faking that they were losing money gambling, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Luo worked in concert with other people to get and then pay down makers in order to show they were good for more credit. After building up and establishing creditworthiness, they would gather large sums on markers in a short time and leave with the cash.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 09/04 – 09/10

SCV suspect arrested in online gambling raid pleads guilty

New York prosecutors are whittling away at the list of Santa Clarita Valley men arrested in a massive joint forces series of raids carried out almost two years ago in connection with an illegal $32 million nationwide sports betting ring, The five local men were among 17 suspects across the country indicted Oct. 28, 2015, by a Queens County grand jury on charges of unlawfully operating a highly sophisticated sports gambling enterprise that stretched from New York to California and used offshore-based gambling websites. According to the grand jury indictment, the online gambling enterprise, which is alleged to have booked more than $32 million in bets annually, is also accused of laundering its criminal proceeds by depositing and withdrawing large sums of cash from various banks throughout the United States. Members of a multi-agency police operation led by New York Police Department investigators surrounded a Saugus home Oct. 28 and arrested Irani, alleged to be the ring’s kingpin, law enforcement officials said.

Wedding planner conned dozens of couples out of £130k to feed gambling addiction

A wedding planner conned dozens of couples out of £130,000 to feed his gambling addiction and then jetted off to a holiday in Ibiza. Craig Williamson is facing jail after ruining his victims’ dream weddings, who had booked their big day at a grand castle setting. Williamson worked at Guthrie Castle in Angus but he took his victims’ money and failed to record their bookings, the Daily Record reports. As a result, some weddings were double or triple-booked and other couples were left in limbo, not sure whether their big day would go ahead.The castle’s owner, American businessman and multi-millionaire Dan Pena, has paid more than £130,000 from his own pocket to cover refunds and honour bookings taken by the conman. At Dundee Sheriff Court yesterday, gambling addict Williamson, 42, admitted fraud between July 16, 2015, and April last year.

Jack Entertainment fined $200,000 by Ohio Casino Control Commission for Underage Gambling

Jack Entertainment will pay a $200,000 fine to the Ohio Casino Control Commission for allowing underage patrons into the Cleveland casino and giving unauthorized employees access to the computer management program for the Cleveland and Cincinnati casinos. “We acknowledge the significance of the matters identified by the Ohio Casino Control Commission and take our compliance with their important operational policies and procedures seriously,” Matt Cullen, Jack chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We have swiftly taken steps to respond to these issues and will continue to work with the Commission to ensure ongoing compliance.” Both issues arose last year after Jack Entertainment took over ownership of the casinos from Caesar’s Entertainment Corp., said commission spokeswoman Jessica Franks. “We found a number of cases where underaged individiuals were allowed on the property,” she said. “We get that you will never have 100 percent compliance in keeping out minors and the Cleveland casino has unique features,” she said. “But we found that basically the security personnel were not following procedures that are supposed to be followed to screen out individuals.”

Trio embezzled $750K – Probation for former seniors director; casino employee, mother await sentencing

Three Atmore women recently entered guilty pleas in two separate federal court cases to charges they collectively embezzled more than $750,000 from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. According to a press release issued by Steve Butler, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, 54-year-old Carolyn Dortch was sentenced on August 4 to serve five years on probation for using her former position to steal tribal money. Court documents show that Dortch was employed as Poarch’s senior services director from around 2010 until October 2016. She was in charge of the tribe’s Seniors Active in Learning (SAIL) Center, which provided numerous activities for seniors such as meals on wheels, games, crafts and outings. The Atmore woman was responsible for purchasing food and supplies and for handling tribal money on senior trips. In October 2016, tribal accountants discovered that Dortch had been apparently “misusing her position of employment and submitting falsified receipts representing fictitious purchases.” Federal Bureau of Investigation agents took over the probe and discovered that over a six-year period Dortch had embezzled more than a half-million dollars from the tribe and used the money for personal gain.

Gambling addict who defrauded company out of £1.7m ordered to pay almost £800k

An online gambling addict has been ordered to repay almost £800,000 after defrauding her employers of more than £1.7 million. Tracey Stevenson, 54, from Arlington Way, Thetford, Norfolk, was instructed to pay back £786,766.38 to refurbishment contractors Ecsec Ltd in Newmarket. Stevenson had been found guilty of fraud at Cambridge Crown Court in July last year, but the same court had a confiscation proceeding on Friday, August 11 and determined that amount. Stevenson had fraudulently diverted in excess of £1.7 million from the company’s bank accounts, which she used to buy two houses in the UK and one in Spain, as well as fund an addiction to online gambling. She committed these crimes between 2011 and 2016. Her criminal activity was uncovered after Ecsec Ltd suffered from cash flow problems in January and launched an investigation, which caused Stevenson to go on sick leave. The account manager’s lies were uncovered however, when her husband discovered a suicide note that confessed the crimes. He later told the company bosses.

NM woman pleads guilty to stealing $400K for child care meal money

Capitan woman pleaded guilty last week to embezzling $400,000 in federal money meant to reimburse child care centers for meals provided to kids. Gina McPherson, 50, faces up to 10 years in federal prison after admitting she stole the funds while working as the manager of the day care center for employees’ kids at the Inn of the Mountain Gods resort near Ruidoso. According to a criminal complaint against her, McPherson tried to deny she stole the money but ultimately admitted to an FBI agent that she took it to pay for her gambling addiction. “McPherson acknowledged having a gambling problem and stated, ‘I felt like I gave them back everything I took from them … gambling it back,’ referring to gambling losses McPherson incurred at (the resort) and other Native American casinos,” FBI agent Lisa Kite Hill wrote in the complaint.

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