Category Archives: Crime

A Brief Look at Crime 4/15 – 4/21

Admitted College Embezzler Negotiates with State 

It’s been over a year and no charges have been filed against Henrietta Trujillo. The former Northern New Mexico College finance director resigned her position in March 2017 and provided her supervisor with a box of evidence detailing how she allegedly kept over $200,00 from the College. New Mexico State Police Agent Mitch Bengston found that Trujillo withheld $249,243 from deposits for the College, of that $92,852 was in checks that were deposited later or replaced and $167,433 was in checks that were not deposited. A total of $81,910 in cash was missing. Trujillo confessed to Bengston that when she “could not make ends meet” she began to take the deposits from the safe and would keep the cash. She told him she stored the checks and the deposit sheets in a box in her closet at her Santa Fe home. Bengston reviewed various financial documents with Trujillo, and throughout the process also asked her about her gambling habits. Trujillo told Bengston she did not feel that she had a gambling problem, and that she believed her casino spending was limited to less than $100 per visit, two to three times per week. State Police Agent Wayne Harvey obtained records from the Pueblo of Pojoaque related to Trujillo’s gambling habits and found a total of $519,817 was spent using her player card between 2007 and 2016.

North Florida Bingo Operators Ordered to Forfeit $5.8 Million Due to Illegal Gambling Operation

Striking a blow against illegal gambling operators who profit behind a facade of good causes, U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe for the Northern District of Florida today announced that the owners/operators of Racetrack Bingo in Fort Walton Beach have been ordered to forfeit $5,813,584 to the United States. In February 2018, a federal jury convicted Larry L. Masino, 68, of Gulf Breeze, and Dixie L. Masino, 66, of Pensacola, of operating an illegal gambling business and money laundering charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia H. Forbes prosecuted the Masinos after a joint investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. U.S. Attorney Keefe issued this statement: “The investigation and prosecution of financial crimes joins the criminal and civil enforcement resources of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement. This multimillion-dollar forfeiture order delivers a powerful message to law breakers who would try to reap millions destined for legitimate charitable organizations. Thanks to the outstanding work of AUSA Forbes and her investigative team, these criminals will pay for their misdeeds.”

Vegas Man Killed by Police in Casino Heist

Authorities have identified a 49-year-old man who was shot and killed by police while exchanging gunfire as he tried to flee a weekend robbery at a posh Las Vegas Strip casino. The Clark County coroner says Michael Charles Cohen of Las Vegas died of a gunshot to the head after the Saturday evening shooting in the valet parking area at the Bellagio resort. Police Capt. Nichole Splinter says an officer was injured by a gunshot that hit his bulletproof vest. He was treated at a hospital and released. His name was not immediately released. Joaquin Escobar is identified as the officer who shot Cohen. Splinter says Cohen fled the casino poker room and was trying to carjack a vehicle when he was confronted by four Las Vegas police officers and gunfire erupted.

3 arrested in Las Vegas casino shooting that wounded 4

Las Vegas police say three men have been arrested in connection with a shooting at a hotel-casino that left four people wounded. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that court records show 35-year-old Travis Callahan, 34-year-old Matthew Norris and 30-year-old Roberto Romero are expected to make initial appearances before a judge Monday. According to authorities, officers responded to reports of a shooting around 1:45 a.m. Sunday at the El Cortez. They located four victims with gunshot wounds. One was hospitalized in critical condition. The other three had non-life-threatening injuries. Police say the shooting appeared to be the result of a dispute on the hotel’s fifth floor. The three suspects face charges including four counts each of attempted murder. It was not immediately known if any of them had attorneys.

Racine woman who stole $775,000 from two dozen estates gets 21-month sentence

Kathleen Fetek, who stole more than $775,000 from clients of her father’s Racine law firm, was sentenced to 21 months in prison Wednesday — a penalty that is about half the minimum recommended in federal sentencing guidelines. “My public defender clients get a lot more time for stealing a lot less,” said Jakelyn Karabetsos, who appeared at the Fetek sentencing hearing on behalf of one of the more than 100 individual victims of Fetek’s scheme that ran for three years. Fetek, 56, earlier pleaded guilty to fraud for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars that were earmarked for the beneficiaries of about two dozen estates being administered by her father’s law firm. Fetek’s scheme was relatively simple. Fetek “wrote checks to herself approximately 225 times over a 27-month period,” federal prosecutor Richard Frohling wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “On each occasion, she had to change a payee or forge a signature, typically impersonating her mother. She cashed checks at banks, liquor stores and other locations.”

Much of the money was spent on gambling and cocaine, the lawyers said. “She didn’t seem to steal it to live lavishly,” Adelman said, adding she did not “buy a yacht.” Frohling’s memorandum noted that “she was at the highest tier of gamblers at the (Potawatomi) casino, receiving free food, drinks, rooms and a personal casino host.” Frohling worte, “Ms Fetek’s status at the casino is not surprising given that she lost over $212,000 there in 2015 and 2016 alone.”

Lawyer Sentenced to 8 Years, Ordered to Repay $1.3 M

A Kentucky lawyer who admitted to pocketing more than $1.3 million from clients to pay personal expenses that included gambling losses has been sentenced to eight years in prison. A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday says Danny Butler of Campbellsville also was ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution. Butler pleaded guilty last year in federal court in Bowling Green to five counts of wire fraud for obtaining money from clients for legal work he didn’t do and to stealing money from estates. Federal prosecutors said he lived an extravagant lifestyle and ran up gambling losses of $1.5 million. The scheme unraveled when two brothers waiting for proceeds of an estate contacted authorities about Butler’s continued excuses for not turning over the money.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 4/08 – 4/14

Search warrant served at game room, scene of deadly 2018 officer involved shooting

On January 31, a confidential associate of the Lubbock Police department went into Fish Room with money to gamble and left receiving a cash payout. On February 5, the associate returned and received another cash payout totaling $150. Under Texas Penal Code Chapter 47, Operating a public “gambling place,” is illegal in the state and punishable as a class A misdemeanor. Several possible pieces of evidence were obtained in the search warrant, including DVR machines, money counters, 100 electronic gambling devices and more than $5,500 in cash. Police were cautious approaching this operation because of a history of violence when responding to game rooms, specifically at this location. On August 13, 2018, an armed robbery took place at this establishment, formerly the Coyote Moon game room, in the 3900 block of Avenue A in which an officer was injured, and one suspect was shot. 20-year-old Isaac Jackson and 20-year-old Jelani Ashley attempted to rob the Coyote Moon game room when police responded. Jackson was shot by officers. Ashley ran from the scene but was apprehended by the Texas Anti-Gang Center at his home days later.

Ex-sheriff admits taking bribes; could get 15-year sentence 

An Ohio sheriff who resigned amid an FBI investigation has pleaded guilty to taking bribes from people arrested in prostitution and gambling stings. Authorities say former Allen County sheriff Sam Crish also took $50,000 from someone who was later hired to work at the county jail. Crish pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to extortion and bribery. He faces up to 15 years in prison. A message seeking comment was left with his attorney. Authorities say Crish extorted almost $100,000 from five people between 2012 and 2016. Investigators say he helped others avoid charges in return for the money. Crish resigned as sheriff in 2017 following an FBI raid. The Lima News reports Crish once sought treatment for compulsive gambling and that he has faced lawsuits over gambling debts.

Mum gambled away £100,000 from dying son’s cancer fund

The mother of a little boy who died from cancer is facing jail after defrauding £100,000 from a fund set up to pay for his treatment. Stacey Worsley, 32, abused her position as a trustee for six-year-old Tony Nye’s fund-raising campaign and spent the money on online gambling, a court heard. The fund raised £200,000 and was supported by friends and players from Leeds United football club who the youngster supported. Toby had been diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma on his fourth birthday in January 2017 and an appeal was started to raise money for his expensive treatment which was not available on the NHS. Early testing after treatment showed his bone marrow was clear of cancer in July 2018, the court heard. Tragically he was then diagnosed with a brain tumour in October last year and died on 12 January 2019. Toby walked out as a mascot for his beloved football team during a charity football match, met the players from Leeds United and regularly spent time with club captain, Liam Cooper while he battled the disease. Worsley’s offences happened between 2 January 2017 and 20 March 2018, Leeds Crown Court heard. She admitted defrauding the fund in court yesterday.

California man’s luck runs out as he must fork over $90K for gambling online using N.J. betting sites

New Jersey gambling regulators have ordered a California man to hand over more than $90,000 from online accounts he had funded and gambled with from outside the state in what appears to be the largest such case in the more than five years internet betting has been legal in New Jersey. The state Division of Gaming Enforcement said this week that Vinh Dao, whose hometown was not made public, violated New Jersey law requiring that internet betting be done only by those physically within the state’s borders. Due to his cooperation and to negotiate an end to the case, which began more than five years ago, the state agreed to let Dao keep $2,500 of the nearly $93,000 that was in his online accounts with sites affiliated with the Borgata and Caesars Interactive-NJ. The case dates to February 2014, just three months after internet gambling began in New Jersey, a time when geolocation technology was still developing and being adjusted in the state. The casino companies that allowed Dao to gamble online from outside New Jersey could be subject to fines. The Borgata declined comment; Caesars Interactive said it would look into the details of the case, but did not address potential penalties, and regulators did not respond to questions about the case Wednesday. The forfeited money will be split between a fund for senior citizens and the disabled, and programs to prevent or treat compulsive gambling.

Ex-Detroit union leader gets prison for stealing $300,000

A labor leader who liked to gamble at a Detroit casino has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for embezzling $300,000 from his union. Authorities say Mervin Hawk actually stole $630,000 from AFSCME Local 1640, but he returned a portion before the scheme was discovered. The 59-year-old Hawk appeared in federal court Thursday, apologizing and acknowledging that he “let a lot of folks down.” Both sides acknowledge he had a gambling problem. Hawk was president of Local 1640 from 2013 through 2015. AFSCME stands for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Hawk’s attorney asked for home detention. Natasha Webster doubts the federal prison system can handle Hawk’s diabetes-related health problems. But Judge Gershwin Drain says the Bureau of Prisons is capable.

$1M seized from Phoenix pool halls suspected of gambling 

Authorities say they have seized nearly $1 million in cash from two Phoenix billiard halls suspected of illegal gambling activity. The Arizona Department of Gaming said Friday the seizure was the result of search warrants executed by a multi-agency task force. State gaming agents entered Lan Anh Billiards and Thanh Long Billiards on Thursday and took seven Dragon games, which are illegal gambling devices, and other assets. The suspects could face felony charges, including the conducting of a criminal enterprise.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 4/01 – 4/07

Wynn Gets Hit With $20 Million Fine By Nevada Gaming Control Board 

Wynn Resorts put on its best face in front of commissioners of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Earlier this month Wynn Resorts entered into a settlement with the gaming regulator, admitting to covering up multiple allegations and settlements with employees who were sexually harassed over decades. Commissioner John T. Moran, Jr. Commissioner for the Nevada Gaming Control Board said of the Wynn contingent gathered for the hearing, “/The people who caused this are not here … but the people here have to pick up the train wreck./” That train wreck will cost Wynn a record, amount as Moran echoed the thoughts of his fellow commissioners, “/I can support a $20 million penalty/.” Moran also acknowledged, “/We gotta get back to work/,” referring to putting this settlement behind both the Control Board and Wynn. For its part, Wynn sent CEO Matt Maddox and Chairman Phil Satre to take the blows on behalf of the company. Wynn has overhauled its board of directors and has fired (golden parachuted) a number of senior executives including former general counsel Kim Sinatra.

The settlement with Wynn stated a pattern of sexual harassment cases that had been privately settled and, more disturbing, covered up by the most senior executives at the company. There were also noted instances of management who “/facilitated sexual relationships between cocktail servers at Wynn Las Vegas and Mr. Wynn./” Steve Wynn, the co-founder of the company and its chairman / CEO resigned last year after a shocking Wall Street Journal Report that detailed a number of sexual harassment allegations by former employees. Mr. Wynn subsequently sold all shares of Wynn and no longer has any relationship with the company … other than the name.

Ex-County Official Gets 4 Years in Prison for Stealing $6.7M

A former county official from a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., has been sentenced to four years in prison for embezzling more than $6.7 million in government funds. Peter Bang, who was the chief operating officer of Montgomery County’s economic development department, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis. The judge didn’t immediately rule on any restitution or forfeiture owed by Bang, a 59-year-old resident of Germantown. Bang pleaded guilty in November to both federal and state criminal charges. He faces a March 7 sentencing hearing for the state convictions. Prosecutors say he used most of the stolen money to feed a gambling addiction. U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said in a statement that the embezzled money could have been used for schools, libraries and other county expenditures.

Accountant Allegedly Stole $2 Million from New Orleans Firefighters’ Pension

“Wayne Triche devised and intended to devise a scheme to defraud the New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund (NOFPRF), and to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises,” according to the grand jury charges. The indictment cited 34 unauthorized transactions totaling more than $1.8 million between 2013 and 2016. NOFPRF provided $5 million to American Pension Consultants (APC), a company Triche co-founded in 2002, so that the firm could purchase life insurance policies on the fund’s behalf. A promissory note restricted the use of funds from NOFPRF to the purchase of life insurance settlements and administrative expenses up to $119,000, and a payment to APC of $250,000. No other compensation to Triche was allowed per the promissory note. The charges allege that Triche siphoned funds belonging to the NOFPRF by transferring money held in bank accounts belonging to APC to accounts he personally controlled. It claimed the money was used for “payment of a civil judgment, gambling, home improvements, credit card payments, and living expenses.”

B.C. woman with gambling habit pleads guilty to embezzling $1.2 million from Calgary employer

When she was finally caught after stealing $1.2 million from her Calgary employer over a six-year period, Kelowna, B.C., resident Colleen Dhuga blamed a gambling addiction. Dhuga, 50, pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud over $5,000 on Monday. “I see you have discovered my gambling habit,” said Dhuga when confronted by her employer in 2014. Dhuga admitted to forging cheques and stealing from company credit cards between June 2008 and March 2014. According to her financial records, Dhuga used the money at casinos, on travel, dining and other personal expenses. The details of Dhuga’s crimes come from an agreed statement of facts read aloud by prosecutor Shelley Smith. The thefts first came to light in 2014 when the Royal Bank of Canada noted unusual activity on the accounts. Dhuga was initially hired by David Anderson as a bookkeeper in 1995 but her role evolved into controller for his group of companies, which included Winsome Capital Inc., EmberClear Inc., Winsome Oil Marketing and Immersive Media Corp. Over the six-year period, Dhuga forged 185 cheques using a stamp with Anderson’s signature and depositing the money in her personal bank account. She also made 482 withdrawals from three corporate credit cards belonging to Anderson’s companies. She tried to cover up her crimes by telling the companies’ receptionist not to open any mail from the bank.

Former NFL player Pacman Jones arrested at Indiana casino

Former Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam ”Pacman” Jones has been arrested and jailed after an incident at a southeastern Indiana casino. The Indiana Gaming Commission says Jones was arrested for disorderly conduct, public intoxication, intimidation, and resisting arrest early Wednesday at the Rising Star Casino in Rising Sun, Indiana, located about 25 miles southwest of Cincinnati. The commission says its agents were called to the casino ”to investigate a patron for possible cheating at a table game.” It says the 35-year-old Jones ”immediately became verbally combative and disorderly with agents and casino staff.” Jones was incarcerated at the Dearborn County Jail in nearby Lawrenceburg. Jones, a one-time Pro Bowler, spent eight seasons with the Bengals. He also played for the Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys. Jones pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge after a 2017 confrontation with hotel security personnel and an obscenity-filled tirade against arresting police officers in Cincinnati.

Ex-postal manager pleads guilty to stealing $630K in stamps

A former manager of a post office in a New Orleans suburb has admitted to stealing more than $630,000 in stamps and selling them online to support his gambling addiction, prosecutors said. Ryan Cortez, 46, pleaded guilty on Friday to misappropriation of postal funds in one of the largest internal postal thefts in U.S. Postal Service history, news outlets reported, citing a statement that U.S. Attorney Peter Strasser’s Office released Tuesday. Cortez was a manager at the North Kenner Post Office. Authorities had a warrant to search the Des Allemands resident’s home in October and arrested him after they found evidence connecting him to the ordering of the stamps. Investigators determined Cortez had increased the post office’s usual $70,000 in reserve stamps by more than $600,000. Internal controls had failed to detect the stamp thefts because he used another supervisor’s password to access the computer system. Cortez withdrew thousands of dollars regularly at the Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans, investigators said. Harrah’s records revealed he lost more than $667,000 since 2011, losing over $220,000 in 2017. Postal records show his annual salary was $70,818.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 3/25 – 3/31

New York man gets 56 months in jail for running $62 million real estate Ponzi scheme

A New York man will spend more than the next four years in jail after admitting to running a real estate Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of approximately $62 million by promising “risk-free” investments in commercial real estate. Court documents showed that between December 2009 and March 2013, Barkany convinced more than 10 victims to invest approximately $62 million by committing to use the money in “risk-free” deals to purchase, and then immediately sell at a profit, commercial real estate located in New York City and New Jersey. But much to the investors’ dismay, the deals in question did not actually exist, leaving the investors with total losses on their investments. As for what Barkany did with the money, some of the money went to pay back his earlier investors, a hallmark of a Ponzi scheme. Additionally, Barkany used approximately $7.8 million of his investors’ money for “personal expenses and gambling,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Edwina Close Woman Defrauded Bosses of £400,000 

Southampton Crown Court heard today how the management accountant – who also used the surname Griffin – used nine different bank accounts in her own name to stash stolen cash – and hid transactions from her employers over a period of seven years. But when her employers, Southampton based builders’ merchants Elliots started an investigation in 2016 into the missing cash, she refused to comment. Weir, who had worked for the company since 2009, instead blamed others for the lost funds. “She was employed by them for seven years but she exploited the company’s trust in her by systematically draining company funds to feed her gambling habit. “The amounts involved were staggering and this was happening over a very long period of time. “Both these factors demonstrate the severity of Weir’s gambling addiction. The fact that she has nothing to show for it at the end of the day tells its own story. “But it wasn’t her money she was gambling with. Her actions were to the detriment of the company which placed its trust in her and to everyone
who worked with her.

Federal case opens a window to the underground world of sports betting

Stephen Mardigan’s life as the leader of a high-stakes sports betting operation in Portland began by accident. The used car dealer had collected bets from friends and planned to pass them on to his bookmaker. But Mardigan didn’t get them in on time, so he ended up holding the risk. His friends all lost, and Mardigan got to keep the winnings. He went from bettor to bookie, and so began an underground career that would decades later lead to a federal conviction and a 15-month prison sentence. The case opened a window into the world of sports betting just as the state Legislature will consider bills this year to legalize, regulate and tax the practice in some form. Mardigan, 62, pleaded guilty in May to unlawful gambling, money laundering and filing a false tax return. He also agreed to forfeit nearly $700,000 and 19 properties valued at $13 million, in addition to paying more than $3 million in back taxes and penalties. He was taken into custody Tuesday evening, just hours after his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Portland. “I now realize that I was out of control,” he wrote. “See, gamblers get a high that’s stimulating but tranquilizing at the same time. I lived for that. It was a gambling roller coaster. During the day I had business dealings, at night I had my gambling.”

Resigned collector requests low sentence after gambling related conviction

Former Callaway County Collector Pamela Oestreich told the court Friday her gambling addiction led to her confessed theft of about $300,000. She’s requested a shorter prison sentence of 60 days, rather than the longer term of incarceration requested by prosecutors, according to a sentencing memorandum filed Friday with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. “Because of her gambling addiction Oestreich did not personally and financially benefit from her theft to any great extent,” stated her lawyer, Daniel Hunt, in the sentencing memorandum. “The present offense has only served to damage her otherwise excellent reputation without any real benefit to her.” Timothy Garrison, U.S. Attorney for the Western District court, recommended a sentence of 37 months of imprisonment and three years’ supervised release in a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday. “In an age of increasing public skepticism of the integrity of government institutions and public officials, Oestreich’s crime has an exceptionally troubling impact on the public trust of fundamental government operations,” Garrison stated. “The sentence imposed by this court must protect the public from faithless public officers, deter other public officials from similar conduct, promote respect for the law, including those who enforce it, and impose a just punishment.”

Huntington Man Sentenced for Embezzling Veteran’s Benefits

A Huntington man was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for embezzling over $80,000 of his brother’s Veteran’s benefits, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. In addition to the 6 months imprisonment, Washington will spend 6 months on home confinement following his release. He was also ordered to make restitution. The case was investigated by the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Despicable,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “It’s unimaginable to think that anyone, much less a patriot’s brother, would steal a veteran’s hard earned benefits. If you can’t trust your brother, who can you trust?” David Washington, 55, was appointed his brother’s fiduciary to receive and manage benefits from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Washington failed to submit accounting reports, which led investigators to question his management. Washington later admitted to mismanagement, including spending his brother’s benefits for his own personal expenses, most of which involved gambling debts.

Ladbrokes gagged gambling addict who stole £1.8m

Britain’s biggest betting company used a non-disclosure agreement to stop a gambling addict, and the victims whose money he stole, from reporting how Ladbrokes allegedly encouraged his illegal betting, /The Times/ can reveal. Conservative and Labour MPs have called for a government review into the use of NDAs after /The Times/ uncovered the use of a gagging order by Ladbrokes which prevented the Gambling Commission being told how it allegedly helped a customer illegally gamble for three years from Dubai, where betting is outlawed. The gambler said a Ladbrokes VIP manager told him how to use a virtual private network (VPN) to bypass the UAE’s internet restrictions on gambling. He was even offered a free iPad with a VPN already set up on it.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 03/18 – 03/25

Sex trafficking ring suspects may have made millions and tried to hide it at casinos 

Dallas police said the owners of some seedy massage parlors made them rich, and they spent some of the money on luxury cars, homes and trips, which were paid for in cash. On Wednesday, officers rescued 16 women they say were living in deplorable conditions in the massage parlors as part of a sex trafficking ring. Police arrested four people, including Josip Maric, an assistant basketball coach at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Officers raided his home Wednesday as shocked neighbors looked on. “When you find it’s someone you see across the street and works on your own campus and that something like that is going on,” neighbor Kathryn Jacobs said. “Just the things they are talking about are morally revolting. Police believe the couple may have tried to hide millions of dollars they earned from illegal prostitution by exchanging the money at two casinos in Oklahoma. Court documents show that “Between January 2015 and January 2019 the couple deposited more than 5 million dollars in cash into Winstar and Choctaw casinos, and nearly a million and a half dollars into various banks for a total nearly 6 and a half million dollars. “Police believe the sex ring was in operation for years and some of the women may have been given drugs.

Man faces murder charges after carjacking ends in deaths

A Mississippi man has been indicted on murder charges after an August carjacking that led to the death of two men. The Vicksburg Post reports 27-year-old Deon Jamall Hatten was indicted in Warren County for unarmed carjacking, one count of fleeing a law enforcement officer, and two counts of felony murder. Hatten is accused of snatching a woman out of her pickup truck at the Lady Luck Casino in Vicksburg. While speeding away, authorities say he struck a car carrying 30-year-old Develle Brinner and 32-year-old Ron Hedrick. Their car caught fire, killing both Vicksburg residents before they could be taken to a hospital. Hatten, himself hospitalized after the crash, was originally charged with vehicular manslaughter. But Mississippi’s felony murder law says any death during the commission of another felony is murder.

Former cop accused of pawning weapons had gambling addiction

A former Hallandale Beach police officer accused of pawning department-issued weapons and other items had a gambling addiction that was well-known to his superiors, his attorney told Yan Kleyman was arrested on a charge of dealing in stolen property, ChiefSonia Quinones Friday in a video posted on the Hallandale Beach Police Department’s Facebook page. Quinones said a routine audit uncovered that Kleyman conducted pawn transactions with department-issued equipment. Miami attorney Richard L. Cooper told in an email Friday night that the top brass at theHallandale Beach Police Department about his client’s gambling addiction for years. “Kleyman’s superiors knew about his mental health condition, condoned his addiction and went as far as to deduct his gambling debts from his paychecks to repay his creditor fellow officers,” Cooper said. In another email, Cooper said the department went so far as to cancel its annual casino night last year in what he believes was a response to Kleyman’s known gambling addiction.

Gambling Killer Shot Brooklyn Rapper Mook Mula, Cops Say

A Brooklyn rap artist’s alleged killer was arrested more than a year after a gambling dispute between the two men turned fatal, police said. James Oliver, 40, stands accused of murdering 30-year-old Darnell Pettway, who performed as Mook Mula, during a gambling session in a the lobby of an East 93rd Street building in December 2017, police said. Oliver allegedly shot Pettway multiple times in the chest … said police. Emergency responders rushed Pettway to Kings County Hospital where he later died, according to police. The online magazine Hip-Hop Vibe described Mook Mula as “a steadily rising figure in NYC” who had performed in some of the city’s top venues and made several appearances on local radio. Police named Oliver as a suspect in May and arrested him on charges of murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon on Feb. 14. Oliver pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court Thursday and was remanded without bail, court records show.

Ex-Grand Island employee stole $116,000 to feed gambling habit

A former supervisor with the Town of Grand Island’s senior center stole $116,000 in cash over a six-year period to feed her gambling habit, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said. Barbara Gannon, 71, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Erie County Court to a charge of second-degree grand larceny, a felony. She faces up to 15 years in prison at her May 2 sentencing before Judge Sheila DiTullio. Gannon already has paid the town back $6,000 and agreed to reimburse Grand Island for the rest of the money, though Flynn said after the court proceedings that he doubts she can or ever will. The district attorney, whose office launched an investigation into the missing money more than a year ago, sharply criticized the town for its lack of internal financial controls. “What is really disturbing is it took Grand Island six years to uncover this,” Flynn told reporters. Grand Island Supervisor Nathan McMurray was in office for the last two years of the thefts. “I agree that there were problems with the way things were done before I got there,” McMurray said. “And I’m proud we were able to identify this wrongdoing and refer the matter to the authorities.”

Ex-County Official Gets 4 Years in Prison for Stealing $6.7M

A former county official from a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., has been sentenced to four years in prison for embezzling more than $6.7 million in government funds. Peter Bang, who was the chief operating officer of Montgomery County’s economic development department, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis. The judge didn’t immediately rule on any restitution or forfeiture owed by Bang, a 59-year-old resident of Germantown. Bang pleaded guilty in November to both federal and state criminal charges. He faces a March 7 sentencing hearing for the state convictions. Prosecutors say he used most of the stolen money to feed a gambling addiction. U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said in a statement that the embezzled money could have been used for schools, libraries and other county expenditures.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 03/11 – 03/17

Mohegan Sun Restaurant Manager Allegedly Embezzled $103K To Support Gambling Habit 

An ex-assistant manager showed up in court this week to face a charge for allegedly embezzling over $100,000 from a restaurant in Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino. The attorney representing Adam G. Johnson, 43, of Griswold, Connecticut, entered a not guilty plea for his client on Monday on a single count of first-degree larceny. The charges stemmed from Johnson’s alleged theft of $103,568 over three years from the Ballo Italian restaurant at Mohegan Sun where he worked. The Day newspaper revealed that Johnson gambled before he came to work and after he finished his shift, according to fellow restaurant employees. According to investigators, Johnson voided charges on customers’ restaurant tabs that had been paid in cash or entered invalid promotional codes through a computer “point of sale” system. Johnson admitted that he often voided items off checks, particularly on weekends, and would pocket anywhere from $150 to $800. It started in 2015, when he allegedly altered 49 checks and voided 91 items. That year, he stole $2,134. From there, his patterns escalated, moving from $5,119 in alleged stolen monies in 2016 up to $63,370 in 2018 until he was caught. In total, over the four years, Johnson allegedly changed 1,304 checks and voided 4,603 items.

Atlanta attorney gets 15 years for stealing $26 million from his firm

An Atlanta attorney convicted of stealing $26 million from his law firm has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported 53-year-old Nathan Hardwick IV was also ordered to forfeit nearly $20 million. The U.S. Justice Department also said in a news release that Hardwick must pay restitution and serve six years of supervised release after his prison sentence. Hardwick was a partner with the real estate law firm Morris Hardwick Schneider. Hardwick was convicted in October of wire fraud, conspiracy and making false statements to a federally insured financial institution. Federal prosecutors say Hardwick used much of the money to fund his gambling habits and to support a lavish lifestyle. Hardwick had millions wired from the law firm’s accounts over three years ending in August 2014.

Man found dead in trunk of car in northwest Miami-Dade, police say

Police found a man dead Tuesday inside the trunk of a car in theWest Little River of northwest Miami-Dade County. Angel Rodriguez, a spokesman for theMiami-Dade County Department, said the body was found around 2 p.m. in the 9100 block of Northwest 22nd Avenue. Officers responded to the scene after witnesses reported a foul order and flies coming from the vehicle, police said. Authorities identified the body Thursday morning as that of Richard Lindsay, 43, who owned the vehicle. His brother, Jason Lindsay, told police that he had not seen Richard Lindsay for several days, but he did not report his brother missing, police said. Jason Lindsay said his brother — a father of four girls — was a peaceful man, but he struggled with a gambling addiction. “It’s just a bad habit that he had that pretty much cost him his life,” Jason Lindsay said.

Vancouver man accused of stealing $65,000 in effort to pay off $200,000 in gambling debts

A Vancouver man is accused of stealing about $65,000 from multiple local construction companies and people in the industry to help pay off more than $200,000 in gambling debts. On Dec. 13, 2018, Scott Aldinger, owner of Precision Construction Services Inc., contacted the Vancouver Police Department to report that Saban, an employee and project manager, had been stealing from the company and many other people in Clark County’s construction industry, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Saban placed an order Nov. 15, 2018, for more than $3,500 worth of building supplies at Parr Lumber in Ridgefield on Precision Construction Services’ account. However, the supplies charged were for a job being run by another company. The supplies were delivered to Richard and Kelli Nye’s residence for their project, but the Parr Lumber invoice was never paid, so the company took a loss, the affidavit states. Last month, detectives received information that Saban is an avid gambler. They contacted the Washington State Gambling Commission and learned that over the past three years, Saban had taken more than a $160,000 loss from The Last Frontier Casino and The Palace Casino in La Center. He also had taken a more than $50,000 loss at the Lucky 21 Casino in Woodland, according to court documents. A search warrant served on Saban’s bank account found large withdrawals at the casinos, as well as checks deposited from the people he borrowed money from, including $41,000 worth of checks from the Nyes, court records show.

CPA laundered $1.3M for gambling habit

Federal prosecutors on Friday revealed a Rice Twp. accountant who laundered more than $1 million from a nonprofit was stealing the money to pay down his gambling debts. Adam Kamor, 43, was caught after the Internal Revenue Service received reports showing he had lost more than $700,000 while gambling at Mohegan Sun Pocono, Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo-Garrison said in court. “The IRS flagged that because the reported loss far exceeded his income,” he said. During the hearing Friday, Kamor pleaded guilty to felony counts of money laundering and income tax evasion. He will be sentenced May 30. Kamor, a certified public accountant, owned and operated Decker Accounting LLC, a defunct firm at 444 Hazle St. in Wilkes-Barre. The charges alleged that he laundered about $1.35 million from an undisclosed nonprofit corporation in Wilkes-Barre and then failed to report more than $800,000 in income on his personal tax returns. In court Friday, Caraballo-Garrison said Kamor was involved in a “sophisticated money laundering” scheme, diverting the stolen money into accounts that he controlled but that the corporation was not aware existed. Kamor withdrew the money at ATMs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and also used it to pay off a line of credit he accrued by taking cash advances at the casino, he said.

Woman gets probation, must repay nearly $300,000 embezzled from St. Charles landscaping company

A woman who embezzled nearly $300,000 from a St. Charles landscaping company was sentenced Thursday to five years of probation and ordered to repay the money. Arlene Wood, 54, was the company’s office manager and in charge of the company payroll and accounts payable. From January 2011 to Nov. 3, 2017, Wood inflated her salary on paychecks or issued herself duplicate pay 190 times and submitted false information redeeming unused vacation time, bonuses and expense reimbursement 141 times, her plea agreement says. Wood pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge in November. Now she must repay $296,759. Some of that will be repaid with money from her 401k account, court records show. Wood’s lawyer, James Looby Miller, asked for a departure from the recommended prison sentence of more than two years, citing Wood’s health problems, the abuse she suffered as a child and her gambling addiction. Her “gambling addiction was consuming her life, running her bank account dry and causing her to steal from her employer to fulfill her addiction,” he wrote in a court filing. He also said that if sentenced to prison, Wood may not survive to repay any money after her release.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 03/04 – 03/10

Casino fined after patron drives drunk, kills jogger 

A Pennsylvania casino has been fined more than $250,000 after a customer was served eight drinks in less than two hours and killed a jogger while driving home. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved the fine against Mount Airy Casino Resort on Wednesday. The casino’s attorney declined to address the board. The driver, 53-year-old Marc Graves, hit and killed 55-year-old dentist Lorraine Hamel less than 15 minutes after leaving the casino in February 2018. Graves pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three to six years in prison. A consent agreement says a server gave Graves five beers and three shots of liquor while he played poker. The casino had promised to install a system that would track the number of alcoholic drinks given to each patron by July 2017, but failed to do so.

Man charged in $750K Super Bowl ticket scam caught in California 

Georgia businessman who went missing after allegedly scamming people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for fake Super Bowl tickets has been found in California, police said. Ketan Shah, 48, of Lawrenceville, was apprehended this week in California. At least six people have told Gwinnett County police that Shah offered to sell them Super Bowl tickets. He took more than $750,000 in payments from people, including Shah’s mother, who never received the tickets Shah claimed to be selling, WSB-TV reported. One victim paid Shah $500,000 to host a Super Bowl party “at an arena,” according to police. Another victim, John Michael Brunetti, said he paid $50,000 for a pair of tickets on the 50-yard line of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Detectives investigating Shah determined he had traveled to Miami, Oklahoma, Alabama, New Mexico, Arizona, Las Vegas and California during the weeks he was missing. A casino worker in Riverside, California, had seen news coverage of Shah’s alleged scam and recognized Shah at the Pechanga Casino and Resort in Temecula, California. A Riverside County sheriff’s deputy confirmed Shah was at the resort and told Gwinnett County detectives. After ensuring Shah’s extradition from California, police took a warrant out for Shah’s arrest and Riverside County deputies took him into custody.

Settlement reached in Meeting Place Mission embezzlement case

A settlement was reached between a local nonprofit and its former director who was charged with embezzlement. Jesse Carswell initially was charged in January 2017 with embezzling more than $100,000 from Meeting Place Mission, according to a previous News Herald article. The embezzlement took place from March 5, 2015, to July 27, 2016, the article said. Police believe Carswell spent tens of thousands of dollars gambling at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino over a 16-month period, the article said. The settlement was announced in a release from Suzy Fitzgerald, president of the organization’s board of directors. “We are thankful for the diligence on the part of the district attorney’s staff, the concern of our constituents, and board,” the release said. “The Meeting Place moved past this issue and has not only continued its mission, but grown in programs and services to the betterment of those in need in our community.” Carswell’s case still is pending in the judicial system, according to an official with the Burke County Clerk of Court’s office.

Drugs, online gambling lead Polk woman to $100K theft scheme

Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 55-year-old Darla Jean Borders of Auburndale on Wednesday for felony charges of a scheme to defraud over $50,000 and grand theft over $100,000. According to Borders’ arrest affidavit, between August and October 2018, while she was employed by Florida Regional Services and in training to be their office manager, she transferred $104,082 from their Bank of America business account to her personal Paypal account. Florida Regional Services is a literature vendor for Narcotics Anonymous and other private for-profit companies. Their profits come from selling products to rehabilitation facilities, such as pamphlets, success chips, etc. Detectives found evidence that Borders made three transactions between $24,000 and $47,000 to her Paypal account between August and October, totaling $104,082. Borders then transferred $79,000 from her Paypal account to her personal checking account, and also made purchases from her Paypal account at merchants such as Dicks Sporting Goods, Young Essential Oils, Gear Bubble and Bed, Bath and Beyond. When she was confronted by the Florida Regional Services chairman, Borders admitted to the theft and her employment was terminated. After her arrest, Borders told detectives that she needed the money to purchase hydrocodone and to gamble online. She is being held in the Polk County Jail on $30,000 bond ($15,000 per charge).

Home seller swindled customers out of $1 million for casino visits

A South Glens Falls seller of modular and prefab homes is accused of bilking 40 customers out of a combined $1 million — and spending some of the money on trips to a casino, purchases on the Home Shopping Network and online games, according to the Attorney General’s office. Sherrie A. Burton, 64, was arraigned in town court on nine felony charges that accuse her of an elaborate scam to defraud home buyers out of down payments and even full cash payments for modular and manufactured homes, prosecutors said. Burton, owner of Valued Manufactured Housing and Valued Homes, allegedly used the money for purchases at Zynga Games, Amazon, the Home Shopping Network, Turning Stone Resort and Casino, as well as payments for hotels, groceries, gas, alcohol and credit cards. The Attorney General said she also made cash withdrawals. “Instead of fulfilling the dream of homeownership, Ms. Burton allegedly defrauded home buyers and used their savings for her personal expenses and gains,” Attorney General Letitia James said. “My office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who engages in activities that harm our residents.” Burton was charged with eight counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud. If convicted, she could spend 10 to 20 years in state prison, prosecutors said.

Vermont woman accused of embezzling $2M from employer

A Northeast Kingdom woman is accused of stealing more than $2 million from her employer. Jennifer Dwyer, 48, of St. Johnsbury, is accused of embezzling the money from Northeast Agriculture Sales in Lyndonville. Investigators say she was the bookkeeper at the business for nearly 20 years, and over the last 10 she used her position to transfer company funds into her personal account. They say she used the money for online gambling and personal debts. Dwyer pleaded not guilty last month to the charges. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison.

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