Category Archives: Crime

A Brief Look at Crime 08/19 – 08/25

Man Stabbed and Killed Wife After Losing Thousands Gambling

This week a court in London a court heard testimony that gambling addict Jalal Uddin allegedly stabbed his wife in the face after rowing about money in January. The 47-year old chef was said to have stabbed Asma Begun, 31, at their family home in East London where she later died. The couple had three children together. During the hearing at the Old Bailey earlier this week, jurors heard that the attack was so extreme that a pathologist struggled to count the cuts on Mrs. Begum’s face. Prosecutor Daniel Robinson QC said, “She was cut, stabbed, slashed, or chopped at with the knife at least 58 times. Such was the ferocity of the attack that pieces of the knife blade broke off in her face.” Uddin, a chef at an Indian restaurant in the city, was known to have a gambling problem. Staff members at his local William Hill betting shop in East London called him the “angry Indian” because he was known to kick the machines after losing. Mrs. Begun had previously reported her husband to police for violence and verbal abuse. She was documented as saying in 2016 that he would hit her when she refused to hand over her housekeeping money for gambling and that he would often beat her if they rowed over money.

Racetrack Bingo operators sentenced (FL)

More than a year after being found guilty of operating an illegal business, fraud and money laundering, Larry and Dixie Masino, former owners of Racetrack Bingo in Fort Walton Beach, have been sentenced for their crimes. U.S. District Court Judge Casey Rodgers sentenced Larry Masino to a year and a day in federal prison followed by two years of supervised probation. Dixie Masino, his ex-wife, was sentenced to four months of house arrest as part of a five-year probated sentence, a news release from the U.S. Attorneys Office said. “With today’s sentencing, the Masinos will pay a high price for defrauding unsuspecting charities whose sole mission was to help others,” U.S. Attorney Larry Keefe said in the release. Larry and Josh Masino, who were listed in 2010 as co-owners of Racetrack Bingo, were arrested that year in Tallahassee on charges they pocketed money intended for nonprofit organizations there. The men were charged with 11 counts of grand theft for their roles in an “organized scheme to defraud,” according to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. They were also charged with 312 violations of state bingo statutes. The pair ultimately pleaded no contest to two gambling violations and were sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service. They were also ordered to pay more than $87,000 in restitution to 11 Leon County charities and agreed never to operate a bingo parlor in Leon County, according to media reports.

University of Minnesota employee who stole computers to fund gambling habit pleads guilty

A University of Minnesota employee who spent $134,000 of university money buying computers he would then sell for a profit has pleaded guilty to charges of theft by swindle. Michael McDaniel, 34, of Lilydale, accepted a plea deal that will see him get a 27-month prison term stayed for 8 years, along with serving a year in a county workhouse. In exchange, he pleaded guilty to two thefts by swindle from the University of Minnesota, and another theft by swindle incident involving merchandise from a Target store in an earlier case. He will also have to pay restitution totaling $134,000 and receive treatment for a gambling problem, and his required to abstain from gambling during probation. Bank records showed that he spent the proceeds of his theft to pay off debts owed to a dozen of loan companies and multiple credit cards, as well as making “substantial” withdrawals at metro area racetracks and casinos. According to the criminal complaint, McDaniel was working in the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research department and bought computers for his department through university bookstores, but didn’t register them with the university’s IT department, as is procedure.

Bainbridge authorities arrest suspect connected in fatal overnight shooting

A Bainbridge man wanted for a deadly Monday morning shooting was arrested by Donalsonville Police around 4:30 p.m. Bainbridge Public Safety says 48-year-old Jamel Jackson is being charged for the murder of 34-year-old Leon Chandler. Investigators believe what started as a card game, involving drugs and gambling, turned into a deadly shooting overnight. In the early hours of the morning, public safety officers responded to a gunshot victim at the ER. Investigators say Chandler was taken there by private vehicle, but he died on the way from a gunshot to the head. “It was a little chaotic. We had family members there that were upset. Then at the hospital, once they pronounced him dead it became worse with a lot of mourning,” said Chip Nix, the responding investigator. Nix says eyewitnesses watched Jackson pull the trigger, during a small gathering at his house at 707 Dennard Street. In the middle of the game, they say Jackson accused Chandler of stealing money and shot him.

Woodlands double deaths: Man strangled pregnant wife, 4-year-old daughter due to gambling debts

Saddled with crippling gambling debts, he could not pay his four-year-old daughter’s kindergarten fees. After arguing with his pregnant wife over the fees on Jan 20, 2017, Teo Ghim Heng was so overwhelmed with anger that he looped a towel around her neck, strangled her with it for 15 minutes, and then finished the job with his bare hands. He then turned his attention to his child and killed her the same way. The grisly details of the double murders were admitted in the High Court on Tuesday (July 2) at the start of Teo’s trial. Before their bodies were discovered in their Woodlands flat a week later, Teo repeatedly lied to family members to explain their absence at Chinese New Year reunion dinners and visits, and made himself scarce when his colleagues and family tried to visit the flat. He also claimed to have tried to take his own life by setting fire to the bodies and lying next to them on the bed in the master bedroom, but then later felt the fire was too hot and left the flat.

Memphis man arrested by U.S. Marshals after toddler shot in the head while man gambled

A murder suspect has been arrested after a toddler was killed in Hickory Hill. Shelby County deputies issued warrants for Jermichael Davis for First Degree Murder and Aggravated Child Abuse. U.S. Marshals developed Davis as a fugitive in the case that involved 2-year-old Anaya Boyd. The little girl was shot in the head at her home back in November 2018. Investigators tracked Davis to the 1150 block of Rutland. He was arrested and taken into SCSO custody. The child’s father, Mikal Grogan, was also charged in the case. Grogan was charged with aggravated child neglect and endangerment. According to police, Grogan admitted to selling marijuana out of his apartment and was playing dice and gambling the night of the deadly shooting. Grogan told police that he heard someone knocking at his door. When he asked who it was, they started firing shots. Witnesses said they heard more than a dozen shots fired at the Enclave apartment homes off Hickory Hill that morning.

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


A Brief Look at Crime 08/12 – 08/18

2nd-degree murder conviction in Tahoe casino killing

A Douglas County jury has convicted a 45-year-old man of second-degree murder in the killing of another man at a Lake Tahoe hotel-casino that he claimed was self-defense. The Record-Courier reports the jury deliberated for six hours before returning the guilty verdict for Jose Rodriguez-Quezada at about 11:30 p.m. Friday. The jury determined he did not act with premeditation, which is required for first-degree murder. It found him guilty instead of second-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon in the October 2017 stabbing of Kevin Edwards at the Hard Rock Hotel in Stateline. Prosecutors said Edwards had been stabbed or slashed 30 times. They said Rodriguez-Quezada is in the country illegally and faces deportation once he completes a prison sentence that could range from 25 years to life in prison.

Woman’s Body Found Inside Car In Horseshoe Casino Parking Garage 

The Baltimore Police Department is investigating a “suspicious death” after a woman’s body was found in a parking garage of the Horseshoe Casino, police confirm with WBAL NewsRadio 1090 and FM 101.5. Around 6 p.m. on Sunday, police received reports of a suspicious death. Once on the scene, police found an adult woman dead inside a car in a parking garage of the casino. Police say the cause of death will be determined after an autopsy is performed. At this time, there are no further details.

Feds: Texas family ran $33M illegal sports gambling outfit 

Members of a southeast Texas family acknowledged in federal court Tuesday that they ran illegal bookmaking from the father’s used car dealership for more than three decades, an enterprise federal authorities described as one of the nation’s biggest illegal sports gambling and money laundering operations. Larry Earnest Tillery, his wife Judy Kay Tillery and their son Brian Tillery pleaded guilty in federal court in Beaumont, Texas, to charges arising from their illicit sports betting operation. Larry Tillery, 69, and Brian Tilery, 46, pleaded guilty to making monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity and tax evasion. Judy Tillery, 62, pleaded guilty to structuring financial transactions to evade tax reporting requirements Federal prosecutors say the Beaumont family’s operation handled almost $33 million from 2010 through 2016, with Judy Tillery helping her husband launder the cash proceeds of the activity and Brian Tillery helping to collect from and pay the bettors. “For more than 30 years, this family operated one of the largest illegal sports gambling and money laundering operations in the U.S.” said Mary Magness, assistant special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations Houston office in a statement.

Mom leaves child at McDonald’s to go to the casino 

A woman was arrested late Wednesday night after Peoria police discovered she left her 9-year-old child unsupervised at a McDonald’s to go gamble at the Desert Diamond Casino, according to court documents. According to Peoria police, they received a call from an employee at a McDonald’s near 91st and Olive avenues regarding a welfare check for a child who had been left unsupervised for more than an hour at the fast food chain. The employee allegedly told police the child looked “dirty and was disheveled.” The 9-year-old told police that his mother, identified in court documents as Stacy Rupp, 34, was “going to the casino and to a friend’s house.” Rupp returned to the McDonald’s around the same time police arrived and told officers she had been shopping at a Fry’s Marketplace located in the same shopping complex. Rupp initially denied going to the casino when questioned by police, but later admitted she did go to the Desert Diamond Casino. Surveillance footage from the casino allegedly showed Rupp walking into the facility around 8:30 p.m. and leaving around 10:30 p.m. Rupp is being charged with one count of child abuse and one count of endangering the life/health of a minor.

Sparks fly as Houston officers find stacks of cash in raid of illegal gambling room

Luck ran out for an illegal gambling room in South Houston on Tuesday. The Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office in Texas raided an illegal gambling room that they say brings in $60,000 to $100,000 a day, KTRK reported. Officials say stacks of cash were seized along with more than 200 gaming machines, the Houston Chronicle reported. A video posted to Constable Alan Rosen’s Twitter page shows sparks flying as officers saw locks from a long row of gambling machines. Photos posted to the account show cash strapped with rubber bands stacked in what appears to be a safe. “This is a game room that steals from people on fixed incomes. There’s crime that happens in and around these places,” Rosen said, according to KTRK. “We’ve had people use Lone Star cards that they’ve traded off to gamble.”

Pa. accountant charged with stealing nearly $1.4 million from nonprofit organization, using it to gamble 

An accountant, who scammed his client out of $1.4 million and used it to gamble at Mohegan Sun Pocono casino, was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment and three years of supervised release, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Adam Kamor, 44, was accused of shifting a nonprofit’s money through a series of accounts between October 2014 to January 2018, which were under his control, embezzling over a million dollars he personally benefited from, the Middle District reported. He also failed to report three years of income totaling $804,365.73, officials said. “Not only did this defendant willfully fail in his duty as a citizen to pay his fair share, he further enriched himself by stealing from an organization that existed for the benefit of others,” U.S. Attorney David Freed said in a statement. United States District Court Judge James Munley ordered Kamor to pay $1.35 million in restitution to his victim, and $241,623 to the Internal Revenue Service, according to the Middle District.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 8/05 – 08/11

Mobster’s son is indicted for ‘ordering fatal hit on his own father at a McDonald’s drive-thru attempting to take over illegal gambling business

A mobster’s son allegedly ordered a hit on his father at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the Bronx as well as a botched hit on his own brother, authorities say. Anthony Zottola Sr has been charged with murder-for-hire conspiracy, causing death through the use of a firearm and unlawful use and possession of firearms, according to an indictment filed in Brooklyn federal court and released Tuesday. ‘As alleged, Zottola Sr set in motion a deadly plot to kill his father and brother, with Bloods gang members carrying out extreme acts of violence to collect a payoff for the hits,’ US Attorney Richard Donoghue said. He allegedly paid gangster Bushawn ‘Shelz’ Shelton to shoot dead his father, Sylvester ‘Sally Daz’ Zottola on October 4 outside the McDonald’s after his Acura SUV was boxed in by other vehicles. A reputed associate of the Bonanno crime family, the elder Zottola was suspected of running an illegal gambling operation.

Dozens Of Jacksonville Gaming Parlors Targeted As Part Of Crackdown (FL)

Twenty-three gaming parlors were ordered shut down Monday following a City Council ruling to ban casino-style games at internet cafes around the city, according to city officials. WJCT News partner /The Florida Times-Union/ reports that the City said they constitute “a public nuisance.” The action targeted the first of a list of businesses well known for bright LED lighting around signs advertising “FUN” in strip malls from Arlington to the Westside. The City Council approved the bill May 28, and the city’s demand to cease operations focuses on any business that does not have a valid certificate of use issued by the city. About 110 businesses hold those certificates authorizing them to operate and can keep their gaming devices until Feb. 1, city attorney Jason Teal told the City Council before the bill’s passage. “Many more simulated gambling establishments have opened illegally,” among the first targeted with the Monday deadline, the city said.

League of Legends Hit by Gambling and Match-Fixing Scandal

The popular eSports game League of Legends has been recently embroiled in a scandal regarding gambling and match-fixing. LGD Gaming’s Xiang “Condi” Ren-Jie and manager Song “Hesitate” Zi-Yang have been found to be involved in League of Legends match-fixing and gambling. Condi was suspended for 18 months from competitive League of Legends gameplay. Zi-Yang has been given a lifetime ban. The incident of gambling and match-fixing involving League of Legends comes at a time when eSports is expected to skyrocket in growth. According to VSO News, experts believe that online gambling on eSports will surpass the $13bn mark by 2020. Sports stadiums play host to eSports events and viewership has grown over the past few years. Young people now spend more time than ever watching videogame streamers and content creators. Esports had 335 million viewers in 2017 and that number is expected to increase to around 557 million by 2021. Currently, the two main formats for watching streamed video gaming footage are Twitch and YouTube. Each site continues to see growth as the industry becomes more popular. As the industry becomes more popular, those involved will have to keep an eye out for incidents of match-fixing and illegal gambling.

Businessman accused of writing $330,000 bad check at casino

Beaumont businessman Larry Tillery Sr. is accused of writing a bad check for $330,000 to a Lake Charles casino. He was arrested and taken to jail on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. However, Louisiana authorities have asked their Texas counterparts to release Tillery from jail, where he spent a night. KFDM/Fox 4’s Angel San Juan reports that the district attorney’s office in Calcasieu Parish doesn’t want to extradite Tillery, so the D.A. office in Calcasieu Parish asked Texas authorities to release Tillery. The Tyler County sheriff had been holding. Tillery without bond in the jail in Woodville since Tuesday afternoon on the Louisiana charge.Tillery was released from jail on Wednesday. Although Tillery is out of jail, the charge against him remains active, along with a federal investigation accusing him of illegal gambling.

NJ Online Sportsbook DraftKings fined for allowing cool-off players to continue to gamble 

According to the DGE, the DraftKings online sportsbook noticed last November that its platform was allowing some gamblers who had requested “cool-off status” to continue to wager. The DGE said that the tech fail happened thanks to a software upgrade the previous month. A total of 54 gamblers were in cool-off status at the time of the software malfunction, according to the Garden State. DraftKings corrected the issue on Nov. 16, informing the DGE of what happened. Between Oct. 24 and Nov. 16, 13 of those gamblers deposited money and placed a combined $28.8k in wagers. DraftKings won a combined $3.2k from that handle from 11 of those players. For those unfamiliar with this feature, NJ actually requires online gambling operators to offer a way for patrons to take a break. It’s a feature you won’t find in a brick-and-mortar casino. “Internet and mobile gaming systems shall employ a mechanism that places an internet or mobile gaming account in a suspended mode,” says a provision in NJ’s online gambling regulations.. Online sportsbooks must provide a minimum of 72 hours of suspended play when a patron seeks cool-off status. That 72-hour minimum, while possibly dissuading some gamblers from requesting cool-off status, does boost the odds that a gambler losing control can receive enough time to clear their head.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/22 – 8/04

Sands Casino fined $242,500 for two violations

Sands Casino has been fined for two different violations by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board press release, the fines totaled to $242,500. The first fine was for 11 incidents, in which “individuals under the age of 21 accessed the gaming floor,” and some of them were served alcohol. The second was for “permitting the issuance of free slot play by employees who were not authorized to do so and/or issuing slot play of amounts above authorized levels.” However, these fines are not a rare occurrence for casinos, said Richard McGarvey, the spokesperson for Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Woman stole $131,000 from medical practice to feed gambling habit

A Claysburg woman faces felony charges after state police allege she embezzled about $131,000 from a Logan Township medical practice. According to charges filed by state police, Bushore started working at the business as a billing supervisor in 2012 and was in charge of depositing cash into Advanced Regional’s bank account. She quit in May 2017. The investigation found that between May 2014 until May 2017, a total of about $131,000 in cash was not deposited into Advanced Regional’s bank account. Her credit report allegedly shows she has about $78,000 in past due debt and a total balance of about $277,000. Also, Bushore spent “what was perceived to be substantial amounts of money on numerous recreational activities, including gambling,” the investigator wrote in the charges. After obtaining a court order, state police received records about Bushore from Rocky Gap Casino in Flintstone, Md., from August 2013 until the present. State police said that Bushore’s “coin in” totals at the casino came to $119,641.21.

Former Goldman Sachs banker sentenced to 3 months’ prison for insider trading

A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker was sentenced to three months in prison for using a secret account to reap thousands of dollars in illegal profits by trading on inside information about company clients. “Jung used material nonpublic information stolen from his investment bank employer to net nearly US$130,000 (RM540,800) in illegal gains,” US attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement in Manhattan. Prosecutors had recommended that Jung serve 18 to 24 months behind bars, citing federal sentencing guidelines. Jung had asked the judge to spare him prison, saying in a letter that he made the trades to help his brother, who had a gambling problem. “While it seemed like I was helping my family in the short term, my poor judgment has led to larger, unfathomable problems and irrevocable damage,” Jung wrote to US District Judge Lewis Kaplan. “I take full responsibility for my wrongdoing and I am deeply regretful.”

Gamesys Ordered to Return Over $584,000 0 in Stolen Money Gambled Online by Criminals

Software provider and operator Gamesys has been ordered to repay £460,472 ($584,000) to victims of thieves who played on its gambling platforms with stolen money. The UK gambling regulator (UKGC) has also ordered the company to forfeit £690,000 ($875,000) for violating money laundering regulations and “failing to prevent gambling harm,” bringing the total penalty to just under £1.2 million ($1.52 million). The regulator said in a statement Wednesday that it launched a review of the company’s procedures following police investigations that uncovered three instances where criminals unnamed by the regulator had deposited some of the proceeds of their crimes into Gamesys platforms. The London-based company operates the popular Jackpot Joy and Virgin Games brands, among others. It concluded that a “variety of failures” that lasted for a sustained period of time saw “stolen money flowing through the business.”

Peoria Tribe issues $2 million fine against casino managers

The Peoria Tribe is seeking more than $2 million from the former managers of its casino in Oklahoma after being hit with a federal enforcement action. On May 10, the National Indian Gaming Commission issued a notice of violation to the tribe. It laid out 77 infractions, accusing the tribe of misusing gaming funds and operating the Buffalo Run Casino and Resort without an approved management agreement. The tribe is appealing the notice but blames the former managers for the violations. The tribal gaming commission has since issued fines of $2,067,561 against David J. Qualls and Tony D. Holden in hopes of addressing the enforcement action. “The Peoria Tribe takes these issues seriously and we will cooperate fully with the NIGC and other federal authorities to resolve its concerns related to these events,” Chief Craig Harper said on Thursday. “We hope to avoid or limit penalties we may be assessed for the wrongful conduct of those two men.” The tribal gaming commission has since revoked the licenses of Qualls and Holden

Man pleads guilty to decapitating Montana casino patron

One of two men charged with decapitating a casino patron has pleaded guilty. The Billings Gazette reports that 34-year-old Jeffery Glen Haverty pleaded guilty Monday. Haverty and 32-year-old Donald Ray Cherry were both charged with deliberate homicide in the October 2017 death of 41-year-old Myron Wesley Knight. Prosecutors and Haverty’s attorneys say they will seek 50 years in prison under a plea agreement. Authorities say Knight asked a Billings casino employee to hold $120 in winnings before leaving with the men. Police say Haverty robbed Knight of his remaining $6 and began decapitating him in a transient camp. Authorities say Cherry took part in the decapitation after returning from a gas station. Knight’s body was found three weeks later.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 07/15 – 07/21

US Tourist Deaths Reported at Punta Cana Hard Rock Casino as Suspicious D.R. Fatalities Grow (Dominican Republic)

A spate of mysterious deaths of US citizens in tourist resorts in the Dominican Republic has prompted speculation that a serial poisoner may be running amok on the Caribbean Island. The death of California man Robert Bell Wallace in April at the Punta Cana Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort, first reported on Sunday by Fox News, brings the number of suspicious deaths of Americans on the island to at least six in just over a year. Days earlier, Maryland widow Dawn McCoy went public over her concerns about the death of her husband, David Harrison, one year ago at the same resort. Both Wallace and Harrison had been healthy and had died under similar sudden circumstances, according to relatives. Wallace’s niece, Chloe Arnold, told Fox News that her uncle became ill almost immediately after drinking a Scotch from the minibar. He was examined by a resort doctor, who decided he needed to be hospitalized immediately. He died a day later. The US Department of State confirmed last month it was investigating but has said it is “not aware” of any connection between the deaths. But on Friday, Fox News learned that the FBI had joined the investigation, an indication that the possibility is at least being considered they are not the result of natural causes as listed on the autopsy reports.

Americans comprise just over half of the six million tourists who visit the Dominican Republic each year. With such a vast number of visitors, it’s possible the deaths are nothing more than a striking coincidence, but this is not explanation relatives are willing to accept just yet as the clamor for answers grows louder. The Dominican authorities continue to insist the country is safe to visit, but the US State Department urges visitors to exercise caution due to high crime rates, citing “the availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system.” On Monday, it was reported that former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz was recovering from surgery after being shot through the stomach Sunday at a nightclub in Santo Domingo, the island’s capital.

Milford man embezzled more than $1.3 million from companies

A Milford man embezzled more than $850,000 from a Framingham company to help pay for his $1 million in slot machine losses, authorities said. In total, Antonis Mallios, 43, embezzled more than $1.3 million from two companies, according to the spokesperson Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. Mallios pleaded not guilty at his Middlesex Superior Court arraignment on Monday. He is charged with 10 counts of larceny of more than $1,200, two counts of false entry into corporate books and one count of being a common and notorious thief. Mallios was working as a bookkeeper for SVA Inc., a sound engineering company in Framingham. An owner of the company noticed in December one of their accounts had less money than there should be and began auditing their finances.“ Upon reviewing their bank records they discovered that the defendant, who had been employed as a part-time accountant and bookkeeper since 2011, had allegedly been creating and issuing checks payable to himself from the business bank accounts,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Former employee admits to defrauding land surveyors association of more than $200K 

In determining how best to sentence a former executive director, a judge will consider the role of a gambling problem in a hefty fraud that nearly emptied the coffers of the Saskatchewan Land Surveyors Association. Carla Stadnick was executive director — and sole paid employee — of the non-profit association when, in late 2017 and early 2018, she defrauded her employer of more than $216,000. Pyle detailed his client’s struggles with gambling, stating she’d fallen so far into addiction as to not only take money from her employer but to drain her family’s accounts. Court heard Stadnick started working for the association in 2012, and was the sole employee at the Regina office. The then-president of the association lived in Lloydminster, and so was in no easy position to check on the situation when, in late 2017, he heard from members expressing concerns about Stadnick’s performance. When he was unable to get to the bottom of things with her by phone, he made the drive to Regina. He’d expected to hear she was seriously ill. Instead, she confessed she’d been stealing money from the association’s account — a total, it turned out, of $216,455.61.

Jury convicts former Cape Coral real estate broker in half million dollar fraud scheme

A Cape Coral real estate broker was found guilty Tuesday of wire fraud and money laundering as part of a scheme to defraud an investor of more than a half million dollars. A jury convicted Aaron Eyerman, 37, Tuesday in federal court in Fort Myers. He will face sentencing Sept. 9. Eyerman was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud, eight counts of money laundering and one count of false oath in a bankruptcy hearing. In 2015, Eyerman made false statements to the victim and convinced her to invest $300,000 in a real estate venture. Specifically, Eyerman indicated they would “flip” houses by buying, rehabbing, and re-selling properties, the court said. Instead of using the money for that purpose, Eyerman gambled away a large portion of the money at casinos and, over seven weeks, spent the remainder on personal luxury goods, including a custom Porsche 911, a $12,700 Rolex watch, and a $50,000 down payment on his personal luxury waterfront residence in Cape Coral. Eyerman convinced the victim to provide him with another $261,000, which he immediately spent for personal use, including gambling most of it away at the Seminole Indian Casino in Immokalee, the release noted. In total, Eyerman defrauded the victim of $561,000.

Bibb DA announces take down of one of the largest illegal gambling operations in Georgia

The Bibb District Attorney’s office, along with multiple other agencies, announced Thursday they had shut down one of Georgia’s largest illegal gambling operations. The office entered into a settlement on Wednesday with Georgia Atlanta Amusements LLC, its owners and associates for more than $14 million. The company, run by Junaid Virani and his family, owned more than 650 gambling machines at more than 130 legitimate businesses across the state that allowed people to illegally gamble for cash prizes. Beginning in July 2015, all gambling machines in Georgia were connected to a central computer system that kept track of the amounts played and won. Investigators found that Georgia Atlanta Amusements had failed to pay sales and use taxes on approximately $46 million. The settlement says that GAA and its owners and associates are now barred from operating coin-operated machines. A judge will also determine how forfeited assets will be divided. District Attorney David Cooke said his office expects $3M to go to the Georgia Lottery’s HOPE Scholarship program. They also expect $1M to go to sales and use taxes owed in Bibb County. The rest of the assets will be distributed to the district attorney’s offices and law enforcement agencies who helped take the operation down.

Platinum Gaming Penalised by UKGC to Pay £1.6 Million for Social Responsibility and Money Laundering Failures

Another online gambling operator will be forced to pay a monetary fine imposed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) due to failures to identify gambling-related harm and lack of prevention for money laundering. The main gambling regulator of the British gambling sector launched an investigation after it received reports that Platinum Gaming allowed a convicted fraudster to spend a total amount of £629,420. During the enquiries, the Commission learned that the deposits the customer made were so high and losses so big that Platinum Gaming should have considered imposing some limits to the customer, including to ban them from its services. Instead, the online gambling firm continued to allow the customer to gamble. Now, as part of the settlement reached between the UKGC and Platinum Gaming, the online gambling operator agreed to return the amount of £629,420 to fraudster’s victims and to pay a total of £990,200 in lieu of a financial penalty. The money is set to be spent by the Commission to facilitate the delivery of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. According to the investigation’s results, anti-money laundering regulations were breached by the operator. In addition, Platinum Gaming failed to make adequate checks of the source of the funds which were used by the customer to gamble.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 07/08 – 07/14

Sports bettor ‘Vegas Dave’ gets 3-year sportsbook ban

Prominent sports bettor David Oancea, known in gambling circles as “Vegas Dave,” must stay out of Las Vegas sportsbooks for three years, a judge ruled Monday. Along with the sportsbook restriction, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey ordered Oancea to three years probation, gambling treatment and 150 hours of community service. Oancea was charged after authorities said he used other people’s Social Security numbers to open player accounts at casinos. The alleged crimes occurred between February 2015 and February 2016 and involved transactions that amounted to more than $1.2 million. The 42-year-old resolved the case by admitting to causing a violation of record keeping and procedures. Oancea has agreed to relinquish more than $550,000 in a related civil forfeiture. He also pleaded no contest last year to a disorderly conduct charge in Las Vegas Justice Court.

St. Louis-area executive accused of embezzling $3.8 million

The chief financial officer for a St. Louis-area company is accused in a federal indictment of embezzling $3.8 million. the Boyd Group, which owns real estate and operates stores that include The Bedroom Store, Boyd Sleep and Accent Furniture. The indictment says that from 2012 through January, Vonderahe issued about 500 company checks to himself, falsifying records to hide the thefts. He allegedly used the money for gambling, travel and other expenses.

Man to serve prison time for scheme involving Fountain residents 

Michael Lemay, the man who pleaded to guilty to scamming Fountain residents out of thousands of dollars, will spend the next several years in prison. During Monday’s court hearing, Deputy District Attorney Bradon Willms pointed out Lemay gambled $98,000 of the money he stole in Cripple Creek. Additionally, Lemay owes more than $167,000 to victims in El Paso County. Lemay admitted to having a gambling problem in court as he apologized for his actions. “I know a statement will not take the pain away,” Lemay said. Part of Lemay’s reasoning for his gambling was to help his two kids that he shares with an ex-wife. When the judge asked him if he was up to date on his child support payments, his ex-wife shouted from the back of the courtroom saying he was not current. The judge told Samantha Hugh there are steps to take when speaking in court.

Former NY cop faces 12 years for running gambling ring 

A vice cop with the New York Police Department (NYPD) was supposed to be fighting crime and eliminating activity such as mafia shakedowns and illegal gambling. Instead, he decided to use his position, and the knowledge he gained on the streets, to operate his own illegal gambling and prostitution ring that earned $2 million a year and services clients across Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. Ludwig Pax was ultimately busted for his entrepreneurial endeavor, along with his wife, Arelis Peralta, and the pair have copped to their activity in a Queens Supreme Court. The 51-year-old retired cop pleaded guilty to attempted enterprise corruption and promoting prostitution. His wife pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted enterprise corruption after having rejected a plea deal that would have led to a tougher sentence seven months ago. In 2015, the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau received a tip that led to the department launching an investigation against Paz and the other officers. Codenamed Operation Zap, the investigation spanned several months before the net was dropped over Paz and his conspirators. The tip had come from someone inside the department.

Former Dells bookkeeper tells court $350K embezzlement supported gambling addiction

A former bookkeeper/secretary accused of embezzling nearly $350,000 from the Lake Delton Fire Department Commission and the Dells-Delton Emergency Medical Services Commission said she took the money to support her gambling addiction. “I took funds from (the commissions)… to fuel my gambling addiction,” Czuprynko told District Judge William Conley. A search conducted of her desk Nov. 30 recoveredspreadsheets detailing her theft and documents from Ho-Chunk Casino, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber. Czuprynko embezzled by writing checks from the commissions’ accounts for her own use. Two signature stamps that Czuprynko bought and used to authorize checks also were found in her desk. The former bookkeeper said she kept spreadsheets of her thefts because she “always thought that I would repay the funds.” Czuprynko’s theft was investigated by the Lake Delton Police Department, which referred the matter to the FBI, which turned it over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution, Graber said. The embezzlement is a federal offense because the commissions received about $685,000 in federal funds in 2017.

Man arrested for leaving 18-month-old in vehicle while he gambled

A Brookport, Illinois man is accused of leaving an 18-month-old child inside of a vehicle while he was gambling inside a store. Christopher G. Harris, 38, was arrested Monday, May 27 at a Casey’s store in Metropolis, Ill. Officers were first called to the store in reference to a theft allegedly involving Harris. The manager of the Casey’s reportedly told officers that Harris had allegedly pumped gas into his vehicle and left without paying. Later on, a Metropolis officer returned to the Casey’s after spotting Harris’ car at the store. The police officer reports Harris was in the gaming area playing the video machines. During the investigation, police said they found an 18-month-old child alone in Harris’ vehicle. Harris was arrested and booked into the Massac County Detention Center. The toddler was reportedly turned over to Harris’ mother. During a search of Harris, police said they found methamphetamine and Alprozolam, a controlled substance. Harris was charged with theft, possession of meth, possession of a controlled substance and child endangerment.

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

A Brief Look at Crime 7/01 – 7/07

St. Croix Chippewa tribe is facing $5.5 million fine for pocketing and misappropriating $1.5 million

The impoverished St. Croix Chippewa tribe is being fined $5.5 million because some of its leaders pocketed or misappropriated more than $1.5 million in tribal gaming funds, the chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission said in a blistering notice. The proposed fine comes one month after commission chairman Jonodev O. Chaudhuri charged the tribe with 527 violations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, commission regulations and tribal law. The maximum fine allowed for those violations is $27.7 million. “The tribal Council members, gaming Commissioners, consultants and other individuals named in the Notice of Violation diverted at least $1.5 million away from tribal resources to line their own pockets,” Chaudhuri wrote in an notice Thursday. The actions become more “egregious” in light of the tribe’s recent arguments to the commission in which the tribe “claims that ‘it is impossible to overstate the precariousness of the tribe’s current financial situation,’ ” Chaudhuri wrote.

The tribe, based in Burnett County, has about 1,000 members, many of whom live in poverty. Sources said tribal members receive a per capita dividend of about $400 a month from tribe’s profitable gaming operation, including its flagship casino in Turtle Lake. Chaudhuri said he would take the St. Croix Chippewa “at its word” regarding its financial condition. “But I also recognize that this may not be the case but for the misappropriations of net gaming revenue committed by the council members and gaming commissioners,” he wrote. Chaudhuri added later that “the tribe would have an additional $1.5 million in available funds if they had not been repeatedly doled out to the tribe’s own leaders, ‘consultants’ and others for personal gain.”

Attorney tells jury Kim Birge stole more than $1 million from Savannah victims

An attorney for 11 victims of former Chatham County Probate Court Clerk Kim Birge on Monday told jurors that his clients lost more than $409,000 to her theft while she traveled and gambled with the proceeds and she drove Corvettes. Those sums were among the $1 million Birge stole from the court over an eight-year period from children who had lost their parents, the elderly or physically injured or mentally handicapped, attorney Brent Savage told a Chatham County State Court jury empaneled to hear the civil case. Included among those victims were several people who lost their husbands and fathers in the Feb. 8, 2008, fire and explosion at the Savannah Sugar Refinery in Port Wentworth that killed 14 and injured dozens more. But attorney Walter Ballew, who represents Birge, told the jurors that people who knew Birge were “shocked by her conduct” which he blamed on opioid and gambling addictions that spun out of control. Birge, 64, was not in court. She remains incarcerated in a federal prison in West Virginia where she is serving a six-year term after pleading guilty in federal court on July 31, 2015, to stealing $232,000 from the Probate Court as part of a scheme in which the government said she stole more than $750,000 over a three-year period.

Atlanta lawyer ordered to repay $40M after embezzlement 

Before he went to federal prison last year for embezzling millions, Atlanta lawyer Nat Hardwick testified about how good a guy he was. Among the evidence he cited was his accessibility, how he’d always return clients’ messages quickly even as he was busy building an empire of a law firm. Hardwick is now serving 15 years in a low security federal prison in Kentucky, but he’s still prompt. On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Eleanor Ross ordered him to pay $40 million in restitution. The feds then went after him for defrauding the firm of millions to fund his gambling habit and want for a luxurious existence. This past October, the jury convicted Hardwick of conspiring to commit wire fraud and multiple counts of wire fraud and making a false statement to federally insured financial institution. The judge’s order said Hardwick must pay $23.3 million for Fidelity Bank and another $17 million to individuals.

Report of man with sawed-off shotgun leads to discovery of illegally operating casino

Deputies who were called to an Oildale business to a report of a man armed with a sawed-off shotgun discovered an illegally operating casino, according to sheriff’s officials. Deputies learned that business was an illegally operating casino, sheriff’s officials said. The suspect was inside and refusing to allow patrons to leave. Deputies surrounded the casino. After several attempts to contact people inside, three patrons left and said the man with the shotgun was still inside. The man, later identified as Jorge Sandoval, 26, surrendered after a brief standoff, deputies said. A search warrant was served on the business and the shotgun and a single two-player electronic “fish game” was located inside. Sandoval was arrested on suspicion of crimes including false imprisonment, possession of a short -barreled shotgun and engaging in operation of an illegal casino.

Rivers Casino fined $90,000 for underage gambling, drinking 

The Rivers Casino was fined $90,000 by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Wednesday for seven instances in which individuals younger than 21 gained access in order to gamble and consume alcohol. Technically, the fine was imposed on Holdings Acquisitions Co., the operator of the Rivers, after individuals ranging in age from 17 to 20 used slot machines and/or played table games. Six of the seven also drank, according to the gaming board. The North Shore casino posts signs throughout advising that access is restricted to adults 21 and older, and its security staff at entrances customarily check IDs of young adults to verify they meet the age requirement. State regulators hold the casino accountable for anyone on the premises who is below 21. “We take these matters seriously, and the incidents were self-reported,” casino spokesman Jack Horner said in an emailed statement. “We’ve reviewed and modified internal procedures to help prevent recurrence. We respect the decision of the gaming board.”

Federal prosecutors say Omaha man bilked Medicare of more than $670K in multi-state scam

An Omaha man is accused of bilking Medicare of more than $674,000 in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and a dozen other states, allegedly throwing pizza parties at nursing homes and going to homeless shelters promising them all freebies in order to get Social Security information to further the scam. Vaccaro said the business has moved several times since it opened in November 2010, but most recently had an address on Millard Avenue in Omaha, moving out at the end of February. During the investigation, he said, agents learned through witnesses that Sutko visited assisted-living facilities, retirement centers and low-income housing complexes in Nebraska and neighboring states and set up pizza parties to show people eligible for Medicare and Medicaid the products Better Lives offered. In all, Sutko is alleged to have filed 1,666 claims, charging Medicare $1,172,802 and getting $674,106. Many of the claims — 700 — involved Nebraskans. Vaccaro said after concerns came up that Sutko may have a gambling problem, investigators served subpoenas on three casinos in the Council Bluffs, Iowa, area. Through them, they learned that Sutko had lost more than $350,000 between 2013 and September 2018, he said.

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