A Brief Look at Crime 9/24-9/30

Man arrested, accused of killing teen during gamblers’ fight in Atlanta

A man accused of fatally shooting a teenager during an argument while gambling was arrested, Atlanta police confirmed. Andrew Dontavious Glass remained in the Fulton County jail Wednesday on murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery charges in the July 14 shooting in the 1200 block of Elizabeth Avenue in southwest Atlanta, police said. He was arrested Thursday. Authorities said they found the teen — identified by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office as Stacey Monts, 17, of East Point —in the kitchen dead from a gunshot wound. A man was found in the living with a gunshot wound to the buttocks. A second man who was shot was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. Police have not released the identities of the injured man.

He helped a man gamble. It grew deadly when he asked for some of the cash, police say

A fatal stabbing in Illinois on Thursday might have started as an argument over gambling — and more specifically, $20, police say. Ray James, 48, was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree murder after police say he stabbed and killed 24-year-old Cody L. Drew late Thursday in the city of Decatur, according to the Herald-Review. James stabbed Drew “multiple” times, police allege. After his death was announced, the restaurant that employed Drew sent out a Facebook status revealing that it “lost one of its servers last night to senseless violence.”  “Cody Drew was an outstanding employee and remarkable young man. He lived an eventful life and squeezed every bit of enjoyment from each moment he lived,” it read. “I can still hear the joyous sound of his voice as he called out to the kitchen, ‘Yea, boy!’ Or ‘What’s gooood?.’” Police documents say that James had originally helped Drew as the 24-year-old played an electronic poker game, according to WANDTV. Drew won $150 after taking the advice, a witness told police, but he refused to give a portion of his winnings to James.

Nevada Sports Book Operator Accepted Online Bets From Gamblers Outside Of State 

A top Nevada sports book operator is in hot water once again with regulators, and this time it will have to dismantle its systems used to facilitate wagers. According to a complaint and settlement posted last week to the Gaming Control Board’s website, CG Technology, formerly known as Cantor Gaming, has admitted to accepting online-based wagers from gamblers across the country, which was in violation of Nevada casino regulations. State officials said the company self-reported the betting activity. The result is a $250,000 fine, as well as the firm being ordered to cease using its own technology and equipment. CGT can remain in business, but it must now use a third party tech and equipment manufacturer. Within six months, “CGT shall permanently discontinue the use of its sports pool wagering system and all of its components,” the GCB said.

Trappe man admits to thefts linked to ‘gambling problem’

A Trappe man faces jail time and a hefty restitution bill after he admitted to defrauding an online gambling site and banks to the tune of more than $140,000 during a bad check scheme. Saurabh Sood, 38, of the 100 block of Royer Drive, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to six to 23 months in the county jail after he pleaded guilty to felony charges of theft by deception false impression in connection with incidents that occurred in 2016. Judge Garrett D. Page also ordered Sood to complete three years’ probation following parole, meaning Sood will be under court supervision for about five years. Sood also must pay a total of $140,455 in restitution in connection with the case. The judge said Sood is eligible for the work release program during his incarceration. Investigators alleged Sood opened a checking account with a Berks County credit union in June 2016 and subsequently “started to write and pass checks against the account without making any deposits into the account to cover the amount of the checks that were written,” according to the criminal complaint. The account was closed in July 2016.

Robbery, Shooting At Possible Illegal Gambling Operation Leaves 2 Dead 

Two people are dead, and another is hospitalized, following a robbery and shooting at a possible illegal gambling operation in Detroit. It happened early Tuesday morning at a home on Andover Street off E. State Fair, between John R and I-75 just south of 8 Mile Road. One man, 30- to 35-years-old, was shot in the stomach and went into cardiac arrest. First responders attempted CPR but the man died on the scene. Another man, 55-years-old, was shot in the ankle and taken to the hospital. A third man who was not shot but was trying to escape the scene collapsed in a nearby yard. He was taken to the hospital where he was dead on arrival. It’s believed he suffered a heart attack.

Purported ‘made man’ from Staten Island sentenced in mob gambling and racketeering case 

Staten Island man who authorities said helped run a mob family’s racketeering and gambling operations is $125,000 in the hole after a federal judge ordered him to forfeit that amount of cash to the government. The forfeiture was part of Steven Pastore’s sentence, which also included two years in prison and two years’ supervised release, authorities said. In February, the defendant pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to racketeering conspiracy. Two years earlier, in May 2016, Pastore was among 18 suspects charged with racketeering activities allegedly carried out by the Genovese organized crime family. Pastore, a “made” member and soldier in the family, conspired with others from 2008 through the spring of 2016 to participate in the Genovese’s criminal affairs, said Manhattan federal prosecutors. Pastore was charged with racketeering conspiracy and participating in an illegal gambling business, authorities said. Prosecutors said wire taps showed Pastore had been in the gambling business for years.

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


UPDATE: Florida Supreme Court Allows Deceptively Dangerous Greyhound Amendment to go on ballot

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the greyhound amendment that seemingly ends all the dangers associated with greyhound racing. Unfortunately, the Florida amendment does no such thing and many argued the language in the amendment was deceptively dangerous and it would actually create mini-casinos all around the state, something known as decoupling. Right now, the dog racing is needed to allow the slot machines and other gambling at these facilities. For quite some time now, those machines have been the true bread and butter and the only thing really keeping the industry afloat. The amendment being proposed doesn’t end all of that harmful gambling, instead it decouples the dog racing meaning that so long as they still show dog racing from another venue on screen and take bets, they can continue to operate the mini-casinos. Most people who would support ending dog racing believe in ending the gambling all together, and it was argued in court that the amendment the Florida voters would vote on doesn’t make that clear. It was also pointed out that an issue like this belongs in the legislature and not as a constitutional amendment. The lower court called the amendment “out right trickeration,” but the Florida Supreme court ruled the language was sufficient to appear on the ballot, so now Florida voters must untangle this deception on their own. Florida Politics breaks down the ruling:

The Florida Supreme Court on Friday ordered a proposed *constitutional
amendment that would ban betting on live greyhound racing back on the ballot, reversing a lower-court judge. 

The court, in a 6-1 decision, overturned a previous order by Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, who ruled that Amendment 13’s ballot title and summary would mislead voters, calling it “outright ‘trickeration.’  ” Justice Peggy A. Quince dissented.

Jack Cory, spokesman and lobbyist for the *Florida Greyhound Association, which filed the legal challenge, said his group was “disappointed in the decision today… In a statement, Cory said the proposed constitutional change was made from “false and misleading information,” mentioning what he called the creation of “freestanding casinos” — a point the majority refuted, however. “This is the reason that you should not put issues like this into the Florida Constitution.”

[Justice] Quince said in a short dissent that “there is no reasonable way for a voter to know whether, by voting yes for this amendment, they are also voting to either suspend or expand” other gambling.


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A Brief Look at Crime 09/17 – 09/23

Former Rapides DA bookkeeper sentenced to prison after thefts

Margaurette Beard suffers from a gambling addiction and, when the urge to roll the dice hit, she’d reach into a desk drawer, scoop out some cash and go to a casino. The trouble is, the cash she used didn’t belong to her. On Tuesday, the former Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office bookkeeper was sentenced to 37 months — three years and a month — in federal prison for stealing more than $1.6 million from the office. She pleaded guilty in late March to one count of misuse of federal funds. Charges against her in the 9th Judicial District Court are still pending, as is a civil lawsuit. Beard tearfully apologized to the court before U.S. Judge Dee Drell sentenced her. She also apologized her to family, friends and the community “for all the wrong I’ve done.” Higgins argued before Drell that Beard’s scheme was not sophisticated, although the government disagreed. Higgins said Beard stole solely to feed her gambling addiction.

Thai Police Arrest 4,700, Seize $35M During Illegal World Cup Gaming

Thailand has a large gambling problem. Currently, there are only two forms of gaming allowed– horse racing and the Thai lottery. However, there are many different types of gaming that exist all over the country. For example, illegal casinos are predominantly in Bangkok and cater to the tourist trade. Thailand is trying to crack down on illegal gambling in the country because the government does not profit from it, and the leadership in Thailand considers gambling to be a vice. However, the most recent and largest problem has been with the use of illegal online gaming and sportsbooks. The Thai police have been focused on sportsbooks in the last month because of the World Cup, which represented the largest amount of money spent on sports gaming in the country in the last three years. The largest and most recent raid by the Thai police on illegal sportsbooks resulted in the arrest of 4,700 people. The police initially seized $200,000 baht in the raid. However, in their research into the activities of the sportsbook, the police found 147 bank accounts tied to the sportsbook that had deposits of more than $35 million. The police think that some of the money was being laundered by the sportsbooks for drug cartels in Asia.The Thai police have shown they are serious about cracking down on illegal sportsbooks.

Minutes after leaving St. Louis casino with two men, California man is found fatally shot

Two men were charged Thursday with murder in the shooting of a man from California who they were seen leaving a casino with and then turned up fatally shot and only partially clothed minutes later, court documents say. The Hayward, Calif., man was found dead early Monday after an automated gunfire-detection system picked up the sound of shots in the O’Fallon neighborhood. His body, clad in only underwear and socks, was near a vacant home in the 4400 block of Athlone Avenue. He had been shot multiple times. Court documents say security video from Lumiere Casino in downtown St. Louis showed Owen was there for several hours early Monday. At about 5 a.m., he cashed out about $400 in winnings and left in a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu with Steed and Lathon. At 5:23 a.m., the “Shot Spotter” alerted police to gunfire and Owen’s body was soon found. Two days later, Lathon, 26, was spotted driving the Malibu, the court documents say. A gun was found in the car. Lathon told a detective that he had left the casino with Owen but was paid $40 to drop him off somewhere.

Bookkeeper who defrauded Chicago film studio of $1.6M gets four years in prison

Margarita Shabazz admitted last fall that she bilked her employers — a Chicago video production company and an advertising agency — out of more than $2 million. After she bonded out of jail, she got a new job — and she stole some more, according to federal prosecutors. “You’re really good at gaming the system,” U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis told Shabazz before sentencing her to four years in prison Friday afternoon at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. “You seem to have this impulsive desire to see how far you can get away with things.” It started in 2009 while Shabazz was working as a bookkeeper for the ad agency. For two years, Shabazz cut 39 company checks to herself or her own companies, recording them as payments to vendors while she raked in nearly $350,000. The scheme netted her more than $2 million that she used to fund a glamorous lifestyle for herself, her husband and two children, prosecutors said. About a third of that — $550,000 — funded drug and gambling habits, according to prosecutors.

Fayetteville man guilty of gun crimes planned to prostitute woman for gambling loss

A Fayetteville man who planned to prostitute his girlfriend to offset his gambling losses was sentenced Tuesday for two firearm violations last year, the federal officials said. In May, Joseph Luther Lewis, 29, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a stolen firearm. He was sentenced to 12.8 years of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release, according to a news release from the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The firearm charges stemmed from an incident on June 25, 2017, when Lewis’ girlfriend told officials she was being blamed by Lewis for his gambling loss. “Lewis, armed with a handgun, traveled from Fayetteville to Robeson County and forcibly abducted her, and took her to a vacant house in Fayetteville, where Lewis planned to prostitute her to recoup his money.” Before arriving at the vacant house, the girlfriend jumped from the moving car, but Lewis forced her back inside at gunpoint, officials say. “Lewis kicked and punched her in the face several times,” the news release said. “When (police) arrived at the vacant residence, her face was visibly swollen. She had a chipped tooth and scrapes on her nose and mouth, as well as abrasions to her feet, legs, and arms.”

Man arrested, accused of killing teen during gamblers’ fight in Atlanta 

A man accused of fatally shooting a teenager during an argument while gambling was arrested, Atlanta police confirmed. Andrew Dontavious Glass remained in the Fulton County jail Wednesday on murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery charges in the July 14 shooting in the 1200 block of Elizabeth Avenue in southwest Atlanta, police said. Authorities said they found the teen — identified by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office as Stacey Monts, 17, of East Point —in the kitchen dead from a gunshot wound. A man was found in the living with a gunshot wound to the buttocks. A second man who was shot was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.

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

UPDATE: 16 Countries Sign Agreement to Fight Loot Box Gambling in Video Games as New Study Draws Link Between Loot Boxes & Problem Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the ongoing fight to regulate the addictive and gambling-esque gameplay mechanic known as loot boxes. Video games offer boxes that can be purchased for real money and they randomly provide in-game items. These items often have real world value and have certainly been sold as such. Clear links between this and slot machine gambling have been drawn and many are realizing what’s at steak. The issue became a main-stream topic when the Disney’s popular Start Wars franchise was licensed and used by video game publisher EA to make Battlefront II. The loot boxes were a critical component to advancing in the game and it was practically essential from children playing the game to buy these loot boxes to get equipment to be able to compete in the game. The situation was so bad one legislator called the game and Star Wars Themed online casino. After several individual dealings with loot box regulation, including the first actual ban, we now see the first coalition attempting to regulate this new form of gambling to children. Variety explains: 

Fifteen gambling regulators from Europe, as well as Washington State Gambling Commission, signed an agreement to work together to address the “risks created by the blurring of lines between gaming and gambling,” according to Gambling Commission It also plans to tackle third-party websites that offer players the chance to gamble or sell in-game items.

Certain countries, like Belgium and the Netherlands, have already taken measures including officially declaring loot boxes as gambling. Those countries even had players unable to open loot boxes in “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (CS:GO) due to some players selling rare skins and other in-game items on third-party websites, sometimes for large sums of actual money.

Another measure was taken by popular games selling platform Steam, as Valve removed the ability to trade items in “CS:GO” and “Dota 2” on its platform to comply with gambling regulations in June. However, this will mark the first international combined effort against the concerns of gaming and gambling— which could mean a more intense effort than what individual states have taken.

Neil McArthur, chief executive and signatory of the UK’s Gambling Commission explained the intent behind the effort. “We have joined forces to call on video games companies to address the clear public concern around the risks gambling and some video games can pose to children,” McArthur said. “We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected.” McArthur further noted that children could be “gambling with money intended for computer game products” using sites that allow users to bet real currency on in-game items. “We want parents to be aware of the risks and to talk to their children about how to stay safe online,” McArthur said.

Such efforts are even more critically important as more and more research is revealing the true cost and risk to our children. It was already reported that the loot box industry is expected to reach $50 billion dollars, but new research is demonstrating exactly what kind of negative effects that can have on children, and given the psychological similarities between gambling and these gaming mechanics, its no surprise the finding point towards a gateway to problem gambling. An online gaming publication reports:

An Australian committee has released the findings of an investigation on loot boxes in video games started earlier this year, reporting that loot boxes and problem gambling are linked and that the monetization practice comes with “a serious risk […] to cause gambling-related harm.”

The debate about loot boxes and their connection to gambling has been raging for quite some time at this point, but the Australian government’s investigation and findings back a growing number of lawmaking bodies and regulatory committees working to impose or encourage regulation of the practice.

In the case of this investigation, and according to information on the study shared by Lexology, researchers looked at a sample size of roughly 7,500 individuals and found “important links between loot box spending and problem gambling.”

The report notes that players with severe gambling problems were more likely to spend large sums on loot boxes in video games, and that its findings suggest that loot boxes can act as a gateway to problem gambling and that the monetization practice itself gives game companies “an unregulated way of exploiting gambling disorders amongst their customers.”

“These results support the position of academics who claim that loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling,” reads a statement shared along with the findings, shortly after calling back to an earlier quote from the ESRB that likened loot boxes to baseball cards. “Spending large amounts of money on loot boxes was associated with problematic levels of spending on other forms of gambling. This is what one would expect if loot boxes psychologically constituted a form of gambling. It is not what one would expect if loot boxes were, instead, psychologically comparable to baseball cards.” 

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

A Brief Look at Crime 09/10 – 09/16

Gambling, guns a ‘recipe to die,’ SC official says as teen charged after two deaths

A South Carolina 17-year-old was arrested Wednesday following the
killing of two other teenagers, according to the Charleston Police Department. Two Charleston teens, 15-year-old Taleket Williams and 17-year-old Juquel Young, were shot to death just before 9 p.m Sunday outside of a West Ashley apartment complex, per counton2.com. Zamere Raeguel Treawn Brown was charged with murder and possession of a firearm in a violent crime, after he was taken into custody with assistance from U.S. Marshals, the police said. Police said that the Johns Island teen has been charged in Williams’ murder. The investigation into Young’s death remains ongoing. Brown was a classmate of Williams and Young at West Ashley High School at one point, according to abcnews4.com. Police Chief Luther Reynolds said Williams and Young, the suspects, and several other young men were hanging out near the basketball court, live5news.com reported. The teens were playing dice when a dispute escalated into the fatal shooting, said James Johnson, the S.C. president of the National Action Network, postandcourier.com reported. Johnson said many of the youngsters had guns, calling it “a recipe to die.”

Man killed, deputies identified in shooting in Casino Del Sol parking lot

Late Saturday, July 21, 39-year-old Vincent James Ewer II died in a
deputy-involved shooting in a parking lot at Casino Del Sol. The deputies involved in the shooting have been identified as Deputy Paul Petropoulos, a 22 year veteran, and Sergeant Aaron Cross, a 17 year veteran. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department said no deputies were injured in the incident, which started around 10 p.m. with a car chase. During the pursuit, the suspect rammed a Pascua Yaqui Police Department vehicle in the casino’s parking lot before running into a desert area. The PCSD said the armed suspect, who has not been identified, was then shot at by two deputies. The suspect was hit and died at the scene. An officer with the Pascua Yaqui Police Department suffered minor injuries but did not require hospitalization. One of the department canines also received minor injuries, but was treated and released back into his handler’s care.

Accountant sentenced for embezzling more than $860,000 from 4 businesses 

Through theft and forgery Justin Ha stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his employer AMH Inc. and three other business he did accounting for as a contractor. Ha blamed his addiction. “Your honor, I had a very bad gambling problem,” he said. At his sentencing Tuesday Ha asked the judge for probation. “I apologize to my former employer and to all the victims for what I have done to them,” he said. Circuit judge Rom Trader sentenced the 47-year-old to ten years in prison. “I don’t care what your reason was,” he said. “Nothing about that gave you the right to steal money from these people. You knew exactly what you were doing every time you did it.” Ha stole $866,000 and used the cash to pay credit card debts and student loans. He also paid for trips, and tabs at restaurants, bars and strip clubs. Randy Norfleet’s Building Maintenance Solutions was one of his victims. “It put me out of business. I’m done!” Norfleet told the court. “The financial impact of this is just so significant,” said Austin Hirayama of AMH, Inc.

Poker pro folds, pleads guilty in $6M ticket-flipping scam 

Federal prosecutors in California say a professional poker player has admitted he bilked investors out of more than $6 million in a Super Bowl and World Cup ticket-flipping scam. The U.S. Attorney’s office says Seyed Reza Ali Fazeli pleaded guilty Tuesday to wire fraud. Prosecutors said Fazeli ran a Nevada-based company called Summit Entertainment that raised millions by promising to purchase tickets for resale to the Super Bowl and World Cup. He never bought the tickets and instead used the money for personal expenses and to pay off gambling debts, according to prosecutors. The 49-year-old faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced in January. Fazeli is facing civil lawsuits related to the scheme. He played on the pro poker circuit for several years in Las Vegas.

Securities agent gets prison time for millions in fraud 

A former North Dakota securities and insurance agent was sentenced Monday to more than 11 years in federal prison for swindling about 40 people out of millions of dollars over a 15-year-period to finance a lavish lifestyle including purchases of a Ford Mustang convertible sports car and country club dues. Kevin Wanner, 56, of Bismarck, also used the money from sham investments for home remodeling and private school tuition for his children, according to prosecutors who called Wanner’s actions “a case of ruthless victimization.” “You can’t turn over a single stone in this case without finding someone who has been emotionally bludgeoned by Mr. Wanner,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Chasesaid. Defense attorney Jeffrey Weikum maintained Wanner’s gambling addiction was the root of his criminal activity, and he had Wanner’s addiction counselor testify on his behalf.

Six-year sentence for Winnipeg accountant who embezzled $2M

A Winnipeg accountant with a gambling problem who spent seven years defrauding his employer of almost $2 million has been sentenced to six years in prison. Maximilian Panzo has 31 months left to serve after Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Sadie Bond imposed the sentence Monday. Panzo pleaded guilty to fraud over $5,000 after stealing $1,978,289.78 from Fineline Communications Ltd. between 2008 and 2015. “The crime that Mr. Panzo has committed was premeditated, sophisticated and ongoing. It was not impulsive. It was calculated and purposeful,” Bond said. By the time his fraud was discovered, Panzo had worked for the company for 25 years, and was seen as a trusted advisor. Panzo had a gambling habit and used some of the money he stole at casinos and online gambling websites, but Bond said that didn’t make much difference to her decision on his prison sentence.

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

UPDATE: MGM makes “Outrageous” Offer to Shooting Victims it’s Suing – Gets called out for PR Spin Attempt

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the MGM lawsuit that shocked so many. MGM’s hotel and casino, Mandalay Bay, was involved in worst mass shooting in modern American history. In what was seen as an unprecedented move, MGM decided to preemptively sue the victims families in an effort to stop any potential liability lawsuits they had and might occur. There are nearly 2,000 people that MGM is suing and they have reached out to try an offer a sort of an extremely strange deal that has been called out as a shameless PR stunt. The Associated Press explains: 

MGM Resorts International drew criticism Tuesday for saying hundreds of survivors of the Las Vegas mass shooting, who are being sued by the casino operator, could opt to have the money that will be used to serve them a lawsuit instead donated to a charity.

Serving defendants is a crucial step in a civil lawsuit. It informs a defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against him or her, provides the individual a copy of the complaint and starts running a 21-day deadline for the person to respond to the lawsuit. Eglet said the firms representing most of the victims have not been authorized to accept the legal notices. That would force MGM to find and serve each of the 1,977 people it sued.

The company […has] been working to notify them as it faces a standard 90-day deadline. MGM told the victims’ attorneys it would rather make the donations to charities than spend the money to pay people to serve the legal notices.

“The money spent on personal service of process — up to $250 per person — could be better directed to do some affirmative good,” MGM’s attorneys wrote in the letter shared with The Associated Press. MGM offered to make a $500 charitable donation for each person who waives being served or authorizes an attorney to accept service on their behalf, but a victims’ lawyer quickly called it all “nonsense.” Attorney Robert Eglet, part of a group representing most of the victims, said the company is just trying to “spin” its attempt to save money on serving legal notices. “It will cost the MGM significantly more than $250 to serve them,” Eglet said. “This is just more outrageous conduct by them.”

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A Brief Look at Crime 08/27 – 09/09

Marshfield man ordered to give up $425,000 earned from illegal gambling

A Marshfield man who owns Quincy’s South Side Tavern has been ordered to forfeit nearly $425,000 in proceeds he earned from running an illegal sports betting ring out of the bar. He is one of five who were indicted in connection with the gambling scheme. Authorities say Manning, Patrick Dolbeare of Dorchester and Sean Conroy of Braintree ran a gambling operation out of the South Side Tavern’s Quincy location, and that James Manning of Pembroke and Nicholas Manning of Dorchester participated in it. The state’s attorney general’s office said Manning and others “took illegal bets from hundreds of gamblers through sports betting websites run by an offshore casino. The defendants had dozens of agents working for them as part of the illegal operation,” a statement said.

Five from South Brooklyn indicted on loan sharking and illegal gambling charges

The last vestiges of the mob are still alive in South Brooklyn, but the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York is attempting to bring down five alleged members and associates of the Colombo and Gambino crime families, who were indicted in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday. The 32-count indictment charged two inducted members and two associates of the Colombo organized crime family with racketeering, including acts of extortion, extortionate collection, money laundering and illegal gambling. A fifth defendant, an inducted member of the Gambino organized crime family, was charged with extortionate collection and a related conspiracy. “The mob is certainly diminished, but it is not dead,” said NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

Man accused in Oregon Lottery shooting threat apologizes, says he was mad about lost money

A Lebanon man accused of threatening to kill people at the Oregon Lottery headquarters says the email threat “was a terrible mistake on my part.” In a message provided by Oregon State Police on Thursday, Jason Ouellette apologized to anyone at the lottery agency frightened by the shooting threat and says he plans to get help for his gambling addiction. “I was angry at myself after losing a substantial amount of money playing a lottery machine the previous day,” said Ouellette, 42. “I have struggled with gambling for many years.” It is not immediately clear how much money Ouellette lost. Ouellette was arrested at his home on Tuesday hours after sending the email to the lottery office in Salem, state police said. He faces an accusation of menacing, police said. He was booked and later released from the Marion County jail due to overcrowding.

PA Authorities Bust Up Multimillion-Dollar Video Gambling Ring

*Pennsylvania* state authorities recently destroyed a *multimillion-dollar video gambling organization* and arrested its alleged owner. The illegal operation conducted business in Allegheny, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. In the scheme, patrons at bars, restaurants, and clubs could win credits from machines placed in the establishments. The winners would then redeem the credits for cash from the bar owners. “Today we’ve ended Tony Zenner’s video gambling operation,” said state attorney general Josh Shapiro. “This defendant raked in millions of dollars in illegal proceeds, draining money from Pennsylvanians — and from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania — over the last decade.” The arrest was the final step in a three-year investigation. In April 2018, police confiscated over 100 video poker machines and*$83,000 in cash* from Zenner’s warehouse and car. They also froze $63,000 spread across several bank account. In all, they allege that Zenner made $7 million over the course of the past decade.

Ex-Border Patrol agent in Nogales says gambling led him to drug smuggling

A former Border Patrol agent in Nogales said his gambling habit forced him into a drug-smuggling conspiracy. Alex Peña, 37, was sentenced Monday to 20 months in federal prison for his role in the conspiracy. While in uniform, Peña stole a Border Patrol truck in the middle of the night in August 2016 and drove it to a remote area south of Patagonia, where he admitted he intended to help smuggle a load of marijuana, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson. Peña had a “significant gambling problem” which, combined with a 25 percent reduction in pay following a funding cut to the agency, “caused a financial struggle” and he “could not see an exit,” defense lawyer Christopher Scileppi wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Feds seize over $765,000 from Moore stores 

Two Southern Pines convenience stores will have $765,850 taken by the U.S. government after accusations of profiting from illegal gambling machines, according to a North Carolina district court press release Friday. In a complaint filed Dec. 23, 2016, the U.S. stated that an undercover investigation had found “several illegal electronic gaming machines and games of chance” operated by the Patels at both Jay’s Food Mart 1 and 2. The machines, which displayed an electronic version of a slot machine, were owned by “a third-party” with whom the Patels split the proceeds. Customers who won money on the machines were paid in-store. “A segment of the gaming industry continues to foist illegal games of chance on the people of North Carolina, particularly on those least able to afford this addictive and destructive habit — this in spite of clear directives from both the North Carolina General Assembly and Supreme Court of North Carolina barring such games,” said Robert J. Higdon Jr., U.S. attorney for the eastern district of North Carolina.

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