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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Massachusetts Corruption Ignored

Cross posted from BMG:

This wasn't quite the beginning, but a start:

Crooked and Crookeder


Governor Deval Patrick’s attempt to install state Senator Marian Walsh in a $175,000 patronage job, and the revelation that state Treasurer Timothy Cahill awarded a $21 million contract to a company that also was paying one of his top fund-raisers.

From:
Massachusetts: House Cleaning Required #1


DeLeo was one of several top lawmakers named in the Ware report, conducted by an independent investigator, which revealed widespread patronage in the beleaguered department. It found 58 percent of the 12 candidates DeLeo backed for jobs were ultimately hired, placing him amid legislators with the most success. He’s mentioned 41 times in the report by name.



Not to miss out on the public gravy train, the son of state Representative John Binienda filled a Hack job in the Alcoholic Beverage Commission that has already cost the Commonwealth $324,000 in settlement costs.

When Republicans proposed Reforms that would have included a requirement that LOBBYISTS wear badges, this was Rep, Binienda's response:
From: Massachusetts Corruption


On Wednesday, Binienda, who heads the House Rules Committee, called the proposal revolting and went on to make the historical analogy.
Hitler, during the concentration camps, tattooed all of the Jewish people so he would know who was a Jew and who wasn't, and that's something that I just don't go along with, Binienda told State House News Service for an article posted yesterday.

His subsequent apology:

Rep. John Binienda issues apology for comparing name badge proposal to 'Nazis'

One must wonder if Rep. Binienda doesn't want the
LOBBYISTS flooding his office to be noticed.

It should be noted that House Speaker "Racino" DeLeo rewarded obedience with Chairmenships - extra pay, larger offices, bigger staffs.


Rep. Binienda wasn't alone is obtaining Hack jobs.
the son of state Representative John Binienda and the brother of then-Representative Paul Kujawski.

From: Massachusetts: House Cleaning Required #2

another hack job:
the brother of then-Representative Paul Kujawski.




For the second time in six years, state Rep. Paul Kujawski ..., D-Webster, has admitted violating state campaign finance laws, and has agreed to pay $16,782 and change his record-keeping and spending practices to avoid future violations, according to the state attorney general and campaign finance officials.


Among other alleged infractions, Mr. Kujawski, 53, in 2003 improperly used campaign funds for a trip to Texas, where he attended two football games with a Massachusetts political consultant and fundraiser, in-laws of his brother.


From: Beacon Hill Mired in Scandals


He soon got the job and contributed a total of $1,600 to Mr. DiMasi's committees through December 2005, according to the Ware report.

From: Massachusetts: Beacon Hill Deafness Prevails



Former Rep. Brian P. Wallace and casino supporter indicted.
A Suffolk County grand jury yesterday filed criminal campaign finance charges against former state Representative Brian P. Wallace....
Wallace is the fifth elected official from Boston to face criminal charges since 2005, a list that includes two House speakers, a state senator, and a city councilor.


Pamela Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, a good government watchdog. “But we have a very, very cynical electorate, and we keep giving them food to feed that cynicism.’’


Of the Alcoholic Beverage Commission:

Relatives Hired - Another Beacon Hill Hack-O-Rama

The defense: The two available slots had to go to relatives of lawmakers, or the Legislature would not fund the positions, according to legal documents.


In addition, an agency investigator is scheduled to be tried this fall on charges he accepted a $3,000 bribe to help a convicted felon obtain a liquor license. The worker, Arthur Hitchman, a former Melrose alderman and aide to Senator Richard R. Tisei, who has since left office, pleaded not guilty to the charges, but lost his job in December.

And I must wonder why no one is asking why Senator Richard T. "Debt Collector" Moore was so concerned about wealthy Gambling Investors collecting their debts.
For more:
The real “culture of corruption”
Massachusetts: Where Business Is Conducted BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Massachusetts Corruption

From: Alice's Rabbit Hole and Senator Menard



Daughter:
University of Massachusetts, Menard Jennifer J., Director of Economic Develop, 37.50 hours, 2008 -$67,291.40, 2009 - $73,348.77



Daughter:
Trial Court Menard-Parece Jody M, Acting Clerk Magistrate, 37.50 hours, 2008 - $110,221.00, 20009 - $110,051.18



Son-in-law
Lottery Commission, Preble Sean S, Field Technician MSLC, 40.00 hours, 2008- $48,418.80, 2009 - $49,477.67


and then the Governor lied: http://wampaleaks.blogspot.com/

It's time for House Cleaning and it shouldn't stop at the Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Massachusetts: Governor, You own this folly!

Yes, the Governor made hay this week with his few public comments - and carefully avoided 'owning' what he initiated, expressing his willingness to compromise.

But we know otherwise, don't we Governor?

You unleashed this monster on the Commonwealth and couldn't wait to rid yourself of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, a staunch opponent. You said as much to me in Franklin. How dare he prevent you from having your podium?

Revenge is sweet, but short-lived.

Surrounded by CORRUPTION you're ignoring and ready to move to higher office, brushing off the framework of disaster you've left behind like dandruff on a dark suit, incapable of real change and effective policy.

Snookered by Governor Patrick says it all.


Governor talks gambling deal for Massachusetts
BOSTON

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says he will accept one competitively bid slot parlor if it brings expanded gambling and casinos to the state.

During his monthly radio appearance on WTKK-FM Thursday, Patrick said he and legislative leaders agree there should be no more than three resort casinos in the state, and he will accept one slot parlor, a sticking point in last year's debate.

Patrick said he and legislative leaders are discussing details, such as tax rates and regulations, before a full legislative debate in the fall.

Senate Republicans are asking that when a gambling bill is drafted, the Senate wait 10 days to debate so legislators and the public can review it.

Former state Attorney General Scott Harshbarger has also called for a more transparent negotiations.



Caesars narrowed loss to $147.6 million thru cost cutting

Caesars pays $7.75M to execs for $100M cost cuts
By OSKAR GARCIA

LAS VEGAS
The world's largest casino company, Caesars Entertainment Corp., has paid top executives and other employees $7.75 million in bonuses as reward for cutting company costs by $100 million.

The privately held Las Vegas company said in a regulatory filing that the payments made this week included $1 million to CEO Gary Loveman and $300,000 to Western Division President Tom Jenkin.

The payments are based on a plan launched at the end of last year, rewarding officials for finding savings throughout the company that runs casinos in 10 U.S. states and several countries. The plan calls for bonuses at milestones of $100 million, $200 million, $300 million and $400 million in savings.

Caesars makes regulatory filings because it has significant debt traded publicly. It narrowed its first-quarter loss to $147.5 million.


Choctaws' bonds get junk rating

Choctaws' bonds get junk rating
Downgrade by Moody's comes on heels of FBI probe
Written by Jerry Mitchell

Two days after FBI agents raided the casinos at the Pearl River Resort, Moody's Investors Service downgraded the $200 million in securities borrowed by the Choctaw Resort Development Enterprise to junk bonds.

On July 12, dozens of FBI agents descended on the casinos near Philadelphia, taking both documents and hard drives.

How the tribe spends its money is under scrutiny by the FBI, which is investigating the relationship between the tribe and the Atlanta-based Mercury Gaming Group and its marketing arm, the Titan Agency.

Miko Beasley Denson, chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, hired Mercury and raised Mercury CEO Doug Pattison's pay in February from $60,000 a month to more than $200,000 a month. Denson told The Clarion-Ledger the raise took place because Pattison was helping with the new Bok Homa Casino.

Denson's challenger, Phyliss J. Anderson, has vowed to cancel tribe contracts with Mercury and Titan. Through a spokesperson, she would not comment Friday.

Moody's wrote in its credit report the FBI's investigation may "indicate potential internal control weaknesses and could affect Choctaw's casino operations in the future."

The service downgraded the bonds from B3 to Caa2, one of the lowest bond ratings possible.

"Obviously the bond rating agencies are watching what has now become a drama unfolding," said Phil Hardwick, coordinator of capacity development for the Stennis Institute of Government.

Earlier this month, Denson lost to challenger Anderson, 1,618 votes to 1,971 for her.
A day after the election, Denson conceded but two days later the Tribal Council threw out the results, alleging there were irregularities. A new election is set for Sept. 6.

As chief, Denson makes $466,000 a year. Anderson and other Tribal Council members earn $120,000 each a year.

Moody's report said "the recent unresolved change in leadership at the Choctaw Tribe - the owner of the casinos - could further complicate the refinancing process or could impede the Enterprise's ability to refinance timely or on economical terms."

(Page 2 of 2)

The bad news hardly ends there. On Nov. 4, the tribe must pay $71 million. The risk of refinancing that amount "has escalated significantly," Moody's wrote.

The service said the bond ratings "could be downgraded further if Moody's deems that the Choctaws will likely not be able to refinance within the next 30 to 60 days."

Because the bonds have been downgraded as junk, the tribe likely will have to look to places besides banks to get refinancing, said Randy Wall, a lawyer for Jackson law firm Watkins Ludlum Winter & Stennis.

In general, it isn't legal for banks to loan money to cover junk bonds, he said. "Banks have to have investment grade ratings."

The tribe could possibly borrow money from insurance companies or private parties, he said.

Hardwick said the Nov. 4 deadline should give the tribe enough time to pay off the $71 million due, "assuming there are no other issues, and assuming they are resolvable. If they don't resolve the issues, that adds to the perceived risk."

Even if they do get financing, "they're going to have to pay a higher interest rate," he added.

Fall River: Dumb or Corrupt?

While the Fall River Herald News continues to campaign for Mayor Flanagan, the Mayor pursues the Malaysian investors known as the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and has NOTHING.

There is no agreement.

That means even though the BIA has its hands tied by SCOTUS [via Carcieri v Salazar and Hawaii], should the Governor bow to ........ promises, such as 'state LIT' [which is what the Aquinnah have] the City won't even receive the equivalent of real estate taxes, never mind 'slots participation' which should be included in an Agreement.

The Mayor and anyone endorsing the bankruptcy of Fall River in this deal is either very dumb or corrupt.

The same can be said of Rep. Paul Schmid, D-Westport and State Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset who haven't figured this out yet. [There is no 'hybrid'!]

Alabama: Judge's instruction draws comparisons to Siegelman case

As Ala. gambling trial nears an end, judge's instruction draws comparisons to Siegelman case
BOB JOHNSON Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The federal gambling corruption trial of Alabama casino owner Milton McGregor and eight others neared its end when defense attorneys made a surprise decision Friday to rest their cases after calling just one witness and the trial judge gave jurors stern instructions that some say may have been inspired by another high profile Alabama trial.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson scheduled closing arguments to begin Wednesday. Defense attorneys said resting their cases was a gamble, but said they thought the government did not prove its cases and one attorney expressed concerns that jurors were ready for the case to wrap up.

The defendants include McGregor, four current or former state senators, two lobbyists, a legislative employee and a former spokesman for the Country Crossing casino. They are accused of buying and selling votes on a proposed constitutional amendment in the Alabama Legislature in 2010 to legalize electronic bingo games at some locations in Alabama.

Before sending jurors home Friday for what would be a long break before returning on Wednesday, Thompson told them they would be sequestered in a hotel for the remainder or the trial, beginning Wednesday, and would have no contact with the public. He told the jurors not to discuss the case with each other and to avoid websites or blogs.

Several attorneys felt that instruction was at least partly inspired by the 2006 federal trial of former Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth chief executive Richard Scrushy, who were convicted of bribery. In that case, Siegelman was accused of appointing Scrushy to an important hospital regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy arranging $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman's campaign for a lottery.

Siegelman and Scrushy partly based their appeals on claims that jurors discussed the case through emails and did research on the Internet.

Attorney Susan James, who represents indicted former Country Crossing casino spokesman Jay Walker, said she believes the Siegelman case "could have influenced" the judge's warning to jurors. James, who represented Siegelman in the sentencing phase of his trial, said instructions about using email and the Internet have become common since the Siegelman trial.

Attorney Joe Espy, representing McGregor, said he thought the Internet instructions were a reminder of the Siegelman case, but that the decision to sequester jurors during closing arguments and deliberations was something judges have to consider "in any big case."

Lewis Gillis, the attorney for indicted Democratic Sen. Quinton Ross of Montgomery, answered "yes," when asked if the Siegelman case influenced the judge's instructions to jurors.

"I'm sure it had something to do with it," he said.

Jim Parkman, attorney for indicted independent Sen. Harri Anne Smith of Dothan said the Siegelman trial was a learning experience on dealing with juries in the age of the Internet.

"We learned a lesson about texting and things like that," said Parkman.

Parkman said he had been looking forward to putting on a defense and that Smith had been anxious to testify. But he said he thought there was no evidence that his client had done anything wrong and he said he feared jurors were getting tired as the trial approaches its third month. He cited an incident on Monday when testimony ended at about 3 p.m. and some jurors cheered when Thompson told them they would be going home early.

"When I saw that reaction it told me they have had enough," Parkman said.

Prosecutors have declined to talk to reporters during the trial.

Espy said he met with McGregor and members of McGregor's family before deciding to rest.

McGregor's defense team felt that government had not proven that there were bribes offered and "we could not see going any further," Espy said.

Much of the case was based on telephone wiretaps and recordings of conversations defendants had with three legislators who wore taping equipment.

Attorneys said they expect closing arguments to last as long as two days. The judge will then give the jurors instructions on law — which could be lengthy because of the complex case that involves a 39-count indictment. Attorneys indicated jurors could begin deliberations sometime Friday.

Oklahoma: Police Officer committed crimes to feed Gambling Addiction

Second police corruption trial opens
By OMER GILLHAM World Staff Writer

In addition to allegations of altered search warrants, stolen drug money and perjury, Duke is expected to portray Henderson as a police officer with a gambling habit, records show. Yelton is expected be portrayed as an officer who allegedly entered the the jail in May 2010 and attempted to enlist an inmate to assault a witness in the case, records show.

Henderson is facing 58 counts: 22 counts related to perjury, 20 related to civil rights violations, 12 related to drugs, two witness-tampering counts, one firearms count and one attempted bribery count.

The investigation uncovered allegations that police had falsified search warrants, used nonexistent informants, intimidated witnesses, stole drugs, sold drugs and stole money during arrests. Thus far, the names of 11 Tulsa police officers and a former federal agent have surfaced in the federal probe.

Meanwhile, 38 people have been freed from prison or had their felony cases modified due to police corruption, a Tulsa World investigation shows.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pennsylvania: Legislators can't do enough to protect Slot Barns

Do we have laws to prosecute minors for purchasing liquor?

Don't we penalize the liquor stores?

Do we have laws that prosecute minors for buying cigarettes?

Don't we penalize the stores that sell them?

In Pennsylvania legislators can't do enough to protect Slot Barns!

Bill targets underage gamblers
BY ROBERT SWIFT (HARRISBURG BUREAU CHIEF)


HARRISBURG - Underage gamblers crashing casinos would face stiff fines under pending legislation being drafted by an Allegheny County lawmaker.

Rep. Paul Costa, D-34, Turtle Creek, said he decided to sponsor the bill making underage gambling a criminal offense following recent action by the state Gaming Control Board to levy fines against three casinos, including Mount Airy Casino Resort, for allowing underage individuals on the gaming floor.

Mr. Costa said he's heard reports of an increasing number of individuals under the legal state age minimum of 21 attempting to gamble at casinos. "The gaming board's prohibition against underage gambling is classified as a nongaming summary offense, which is not a disincentive and nothing more than a slap on the wrist," said Mr. Costa, a member of the House Gaming Oversight Committee.

Under his proposal, a first conviction would be classified as a summary offense with a fine up to $2,000. A conviction for a second or subsequent offense would be a third-degree misdemeanor with a fine up to $5,000. The measure would allow for higher fines if an offender used fake or forged identification to enter a casino.

Other penalties being considered would include community service, forfeiture or payback of gambling winnings and putting an offender's name on the excluded gamblers' list.

"My legislation makes it very clear to young people that taking a chance at a casino if you're under 21 years old is a bad idea and has lasting consequences," said Mr. Costa.

After the gaming board approved underage fines for Mount Airy, the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and Hollywood Casino in Dauphin County, Chairman Greg Fajt said board members would support any legislation to levy tougher penalties against underage gamblers.

The issue of penalties for underage gambling warrants a close look by lawmakers, said Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-124, Tamaqua, a member of the gaming oversight panel. He is reserving comment on Mr. Costa's bill until it's formally introduced

Scott Harshbarger on Regulation of Casino Gambling in Massachusetts

Click for podcast:

Scott Harshbarger on Regulation of Casino Gambling in Massachusetts

Compulsive teen gambling is on the rise

Compulsive teen gambling is on the rise
Columnists
Gary Crist - Lifestyle

Dear Gary: I have a question regarding my 16-year-old nephew, my sister's son. I found out from my sister that my nephew has been stealing money from them and even used their charge card without their permission. Apparently he has been gambling and needed money to pay his debts and to gamble. My sister found out that her son was betting on sports and was able to do this by using a bookie that, I guess, did not care or check to see how old my nephew was. She also found out that he was playing poker and buying scratch tickets like they were going out of style. My sister is minimizing all of this. They grounded my nephew and believe that this will pass. I believe it is serious and that they need to intervene before things get more out of hand. I'd be very interested in whose side you are on. I will show her the column regardless. Thank you.

- ANONYMOUS IN LOVELAND

Dear Anonymous: Based upon the information you gave, I would have to side with you on this as I believe your nephew has an obsession with gambling. Teen gambling is on the rise, with Internet gambling making it easy for teens to gamble. In many states gambling is legal at age 18 and, even if they are not allowed to participate in all forms of gambling, older teens can gamble without breaking the law. Gambling has been glamorized with the World Series of Poker being televised. Teens see this as a way to "get rich quick." This is made worse by the ability to gamble using a credit card. The government even encourages gambling by sanctioning state-run lotteries and scratch cards. As a result of teen gambling adolescents, like your nephew, mount up debt that they cannot hope to pay back, and this leads to stealing and lying. I believe your nephew is addicted to gambling. As a result he is likely spending more and more time placing bets and less on schoolwork and relationships with family and friends.

The fact that he is stealing money and using his parents' charge cards is evidence of how far he is involved in this. Compulsive gamblers are risk takers gone awry and are often among the brightest students. Their gambling addiction is not as easy to spot as that of a seriously depressed and withdrawn teen.

Yes, show this column to your sister and encourage her to get her son help. Compulsive gambling is like other addictions. Outside help may be the only way your nephew can stop. Have her answer the following questions as it relates to her son's gambling. My guess is that the answers will help her come to grips with the extent of his problem. Your teen has a gambling problem if he/she is: » spending more money than he/she can afford to lose » neglecting school, work and friends so that he/she can gamble - lying about his/her gambling behaviors » thinking about gambling all the time » unable to stop gambling, even when he/she tries

Windsor resident Gary Crist is a mediator, social worker, facilitator and trainer who writes a weekly Beacon column.

Gambling addict stole items

Gambling addict stole items

A GAMBLING addict was sentenced to 140 hours' unpaid work after admitting stealing items while staying at his victim's home.

Daniel Raisen, 24, of Boswell Grove, Lincoln, pleaded guilty to taking a camera, necklace, fishing equipment and other items worth about £1,675 between January 1 and April 28 this year.

John Mitchell, prosecuting, said: "Mr Raisen and his girlfriend were allowed to stay in the house of her mother's partner because they could not get home because of bad weather.

"When he returned from working away, the homeowner discovered a camera had gone missing."

Mr Mitchell told the court Raisen admitted his gambling problem and was given a second chance but took some more items.

Dale Brownless, mitigating, said Raisen was seeking help for his problems. Magistrates also imposed a 12-month supervision order so Raisen could continue tackling his gambling addiction.

Snookered by Governor Patrick!

Cross posted from Blue Mass Group.

In 2009, the Massachusetts Democratic Party passed a Resolution
opposing Predatory Gambling that Governor Patrick has ignored.

Found here:

Massachusetts Democratic Party Resolution Opposing Predatory Gambling

It was distributed to every Democratic member on Beacon Hill.

In 2009, a long overdue meeting was held by the Governor with
a coalition of Casino Opponents.


Governor Patrick agreed to support an INDEPENDENT COST BENEFIT
ANALYSIS
after meeting with the group:


Maybe it's time to talk!

Please remember that the Governor spent $189,000 hard earned taxpayer dollars, on the Spectrum Gaming Report that was designed to overstate jobs and revenue projections, not consider the costs and impacts.

The cost of the INDEPENDENT COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS, as proposed by the Coalition would have been nominal!

Governor Patrick downplayed his intent long enough to appease members of the coalition, convince them of his sincerity to gain re-election and promptly returned to his secret meetings and promotion of Destination Resort Slot Barns.

Shortly after is re-election, the Governor met in secret with a group of Tribes, led them to believe he would support 'state land into trust' and a Slot Barn in Freetown. Rumors abound!
Since Beacon Hill has exempted itself from Open Meeting Laws, the back room deals will never be disclosed.


And on that laundry list of 'things to do,' it included convicting former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, a staunch Casino Opponent who squashed the Governor's original plans.

Lest you think revenge wasn't in the Governor's plan, he was still smarting about his defeat when I had an opportunity to discuss Gambling with him after a Community Forum in Franklin.

A good case can be made that Deval Patrick's intent was to cram through flawed Gambling legislation prior to his election, consequences be damned!

This has since been removed:

Diane B. Patrick
Partner
Ropes & Gray
One International Place
Boston, MA 02110-2624



Gaming
Attorneys


Gaming
Gaming trade associations, leading companies and principal investors turn to Ropes & Gray for advice on matters ranging from litigation and regulatory issues, to financing and transactional engagements, to internal investigations and out-of-court workouts and insolvencies. We work with participants in all portions of the industry, including commercial casino companies, tribal operations and technology suppliers. We understand how the industry’s unique regulatory environment influences most legal issues. Recent engagements have included:
Defending several lawsuits brought by allegedly compulsive gamblers, and helping many clients develop meaningful, responsible gaming programs.
Defending against U.S. Treasury enforcement proceedings for failures to file currency transaction reports, and pressing the industry’s concerns before Treasury on "suspicious activity reporting."
Leading the industry effort to shape anti-terrorism restrictions proposed by the Coast Guard for casino riverboats in the wake of the September 11 tragedies.
Advising both underwriters and investors in more than a dozen major debt financings for tribal gaming properties.
Advocating before the U.S. Interior Department concerning tribal gaming compacts and the designation of initial reservations.
Defending a casino developer against a multimillion dollar claim by a local government for failing to win a state license for a proposed casino project.
Defending a gaming company before the Federal Election Commission against charges of improper campaign donations.
Representing major creditors in a Chapter 11 reorganization of a multi-state gaming entity.
Advising numerous clients concerning the application of state anti-lottery laws to proposed promotional programs, including Internet activities.
Seeking certiorari from the United States Supreme Court in a First Amendment challenge to limitations on campaign donations by casino licensees.
Ropes & Gray is the only national law firm that is a member of the American Gaming Association, which also is a client of the firm on a number of matters.
Contact:
For further information on this area of practice, please contact:
Litigation and Regulatory Matters – David O. Stewart
Financing and Transactional – Lawrence D. Bragg
Workouts and Insolvencies – Don S. DeAmicis


We have all been betrayed by a Governor who took office with an intent to push through Predatory Gambling!

And then he'll move on to higher office with the generous support of wealthy Gambling Investors, leaving behind the detritus he's created.



And then he lied: wampaleaks

Alabama: Jury will be fully sequestered during deliberations

Bingo corruption trial: Entire defense rests
Jury will be fully sequestered during deliberations
By: Lance Griffin

MONTGOMERY – Friday began as a morning just like any other morning here at the bingo corruption trial.

Then, suddenly, all nine defendants rested their case.

Moments after the jury entered the courtroom, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson made a statement.

“Mr. McGregor, I believe you have something to announce to the jury?”

With that, Victoryland owner Milton McGregor and lead attorney Joe Espy walked to the lectern in the courtroom on the second floor of the Frank M. Johnson Federal Building.

“Your honor, the McGregor defense rests,” Espy said.

The remaining eight defendants followed suit, ending the defense portion of the case after one day and one witness.

Closing arguments will begin Wednesday and are expected to last about two days. Thompson and the attorneys will spend Monday and Tuesday hammering out matters dealing with the length of the arguments and the proposed jury instructions. It is expected the jury will begin deliberations under full sequestration Friday.

Thompson said he will also rule on renewed motions for acquittal Monday at 9 a.m.

The defendants’ decisions to rest came as a surprise to many, and were made following a Thursday night meeting between attorneys in the case.

Jim Parkman, attorney for Sen. Harri Anne Smith, said a perceived weary jury played into the decision. Jury selection in the case began June 6.

“Our impression was that the jury got it, one way or another.”Parkman said.

Only one defendant, lobbyist Tom Coker, had begun his defense case. Coker attorney Bill Baxley questioned Richard “Dickie” Whitaker, director of governmental affairs for the Medical Association of Alabama, about a $10,000 contribution Coker gave to defendant Sen. Quinton Ross on behalf of the association after the Senate passed pro gambling legislation. The government contended the Coker gave the money on behalf of McGregor through the medical association in response to Ross’ repeated requests for campaign donations in exchange for his vote on electronic bingo legislation. Government prosecutor Edward Kang aggressively cross-examined Whitaker for most of the day Thursday.

Alabama: Harri Anne Smith among last to decide

Harri Anne Smith among last to decide to rest in bingo corruption trial
By: Lance Griffin

MONTGOMERY – The attorney for bingo corruption trial defendant Sen. Harri Anne Smith said Smith was the “last in line” among the nine defendants to make the decision to rest without calling any witnesses.

Jim Parkman said Friday the Smith defense was prepared to call 15 witnesses, including Smith. However, Parkman said the decision to rest came during a Thursday night meeting between all of the defendants’ attorneys, adding that several factors played into the decision.

First, Parkman said he believed the jury was tired.

“My reading of the jury was we felt they had enough,” Parkman said Friday, minutes after the entire defense rested in the bingo corruption trial. “Our impression was that the jury got it, one way or another.”

Second, Parkman said the other defendants decided not to call witnesses, and he was concerned about how being the only defendant to put on an affirmative defense would be interpreted by the jury.

“If one other defendant wanted to put on a case, we would have put on a case,” Parkman said.

Smith said her defense would have stressed that her decision to support pro-gambling legislation in 2009 and 2010 was not influenced by campaign donations from Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley, but from polls, calls, letters, e-mails and faxes in 2008 that indicated either strong support for Country Crossing, or for the right to vote on legalized gambling in Alabama.

“How can you be bribed if you have been for an issue, and it has been so public?” Smith said.

Smith is charged with conspiracy, bribery, extortion, honest services fraud and money laundering. The government claims Gilley not only influenced Smith’s vote on electronic bingo legislation by giving her hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations, but also influenced her to influence other legislators to vote for the legislation.

“The truth is always the best defense,” Smith said.

The length of closing arguments has not been determined. Parkman said he requested 90 minutes.

Canadian Gamers Frustrated by Frozen Funds

Canadian Gamers Frustrated by Frozen Funds

Account holders located in the region were horrified to discover that their accounts had been frozen following the indictment and arrest of casino operators embroiled in allegations of corruption. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission – a jurisdiction ...

Alabama: Defense Rests

Taking a gamble, defense rests case in corruption trial
Written by Sebastian Kitchen

Lawyers representing defendants in one of the most significant public corruption trials in the history of the state said they know resting their case Friday without presenting a defense was a gamble, but they do not feel the prosecution proved its case.

Susan James, an attorney for former Country Crossing spokesman Jay Walker, acknowledged it is a gamble, but said she has gambled before and won.


"Sure, there's a risk in everything you do," Joe Espy, lead attorney for VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, said leaving the courthouse.

Espy and other attorneys also were clear there was a risk with moving forward, with the possibility of a witness for another defendant hurting their client.

"When we rested, we knew the case was over," Espy said.

Lewis Gillis, an attorney for Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, said "there's always that risk" by not presenting a defense.

"It's not over. We still have some work to do," Gillis said. "... They're going to get in there and throw some mud and hope it will stick."

Jim Parkman, an attorney for Sen. Harri Anne Smith, said "everything in life is a risk," and it was clear that they were the last ones to go along with the decision to rest in the case.

The other defendants are former state Sens. Larry Means of Attalla and Jim Preuitt of Talladega; lobbyists Tom Coker and Bob Geddie; and Ray Crosby, who was an analyst and attorney for the state Legislature.

They are charged for their alleged role in a scheme in which casino owners and their lobbyists bribed state lawmakers to support legislation that would, if also passed by voters, have legalized electronic gambling in the state.

The nine defendants in the case announced in court Friday that they were resting their case after calling just one witness.

The prosecution presented its case over eight weeks, ending Tuesday after calling 17 witnesses.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson said he would hear arguments on pending motions at 9 a.m. Monday.


He said closing arguments would begin Wednesday, when the jury will be sequestered until they complete their deliberations.

(Page 2 of 3)

He instructed the predominantly female jury not to read media reports or search the Web.
Espy said he expects closing arguments to be concluded Thursday.


Thompson met individually with each defendant before they left the courthouse Friday.

Prosecutors, unlike several defense attorneys, have not talked to the media during the trial so there was no comment on the defense resting its case.

James said the government has asked for six hours for its closing argument and said she was surprised that prosecutors did not ask for nine hours, one for each defendant. She said defense attorneys have asked for an hour to 90 minutes each.

While some were shocked by the defense's decision to rest its case, Espy said they were close to making that decision Thursday.


He said Bill Baxley, the former state attorney general representing Coker, and attorneys for Ross felt that the one witness called was necessary.

"It was the unanimous decision of the defense that we stop," Espy said.

Espy said they evaluated the evidence and had attorneys working overnight Thursday examining it again until 6 a.m. Friday before finalizing the decision. He said the attorneys talked, and they talked with McGregor and his family before making the decision. But Espy said not presenting a defense was a consideration since they first saw the indictment in October.

Parkman said the reaction of the jury being let out early one day this week also helped with his decision. He said they clapped when they were allowed to leave early. Parkman said that told him "they're through."

"They know the issues," he said. "... That told me they had enough."

Espy said he and his team now have two months of proceedings to go through.

"We feel like we have a fair and impartial jury who has listened to the cross examination," he said.

Espy said the testimony from "two crooks" and "three amigos failed." The "amigos" Espy was referring to were state Sen. Scott Beason, former state Rep. Benjamin Lewis and state Rep. Barry Mask, who cooperated with the FBI and secretly recorded conversations. The "crooks" are Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley and his lobbyist, Jarrod Massey, who were arrested with the other nine defendants in October, but then pleaded guilty.

(Page 3 of 3)

Espy said those and other witnesses were discredited and that tapes played by the government fell flat. He said that a prosecutor even told the jury in his opening statement that they would not hear a direct bribe on the recordings.

Gillis said Gilley, Massey and Jennifer Pouncy, a lobbyist who worked for Massey who also has pleaded guilty, said they did not talk to Ross about his vote on the gambling legislation and that he made no promises to take any action.

He said they also admitted not returning Ross's phone calls. Gillis also pointed out that, despite Ross's requests, he did not receive a contribution from McGregor or Gilley in 2010.

As a result of all of that, Gillis said, "there was no reason for him to put on a defense."

He asked what else they could have done to improve their standing in the case.

"They just did not have a case against us," Gillis said.

Defense attorneys said leaving the courthouse Friday that they did not feel that prosecutors had met the burden of proof.

"There's plenty of doubt in this. There's a lot of questions," James said.

She said they had talked about not presenting a defense for three weeks, but there were two defendants holding out.

"I would have loved to ... say what I want to the jury," Smith said.

Parkman said they wanted to present a defense, but questioned how it would look if Smith was the only defendant who did. He also said they did not want one of their witnesses to hurt another defendant's case.

"We didn't want to be the only ones to put on a case," Parkman said.

Smith said she would be telling her story through Parkman.

Espy said they began the process of considering whether to present a defense when the prosecution rested its case Monday.

James also said that they were not pleased with the judge's ruling about some of the questioning that was allowed of the sole witness for the defense, Richard Whitaker of the Medical Association of Alabama.

Whitaker talked about a contribution from the association's political action committee to Ross, but federal prosecutor Edward Kang asked him about issues related to Crosby's work and him receiving $3,000 a month from McGregor while also working for the Legislature. Kang grilled Whitaker for hours.


Defense attorneys objected to the questioning.


Gillis said he was shocked that the FBI or federal prosecutors never sent an investigator to talk to Whitaker, who signed the check, about the contribution to Ross.


Prosecutors allege that Coker, a McGregor lobbyist, directed the contribution to the senator to secure the senator's vote on gambling legislation. But Coker also represented the medical association, and Whitaker said it was a physician who requested the association's PAC contribute to Ross and that a panel of doctors approved the contribution.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Beacon Hill Ignores Alcohol Policies

24/7/365 FREE ALCOHOL was in included in the 2010 Flawed Legislation passed on Beacon Hill, with little debate in an effort to genuflect to the Gambling Industry.

While Republicans foolishly railed about the "Nanny State," facts prove otherwise.

In their willingness to please the Gambling Industry, Beacon Hill ignored that each of us would become innocent targets of Intoxicated Slot Barn Patrons who had been served FREE ALCOHOL.

Some additional information:
ALCOHOL

DRUNK DRIVERS

From American Gaming Association: Casino Alcohol Policies

Here are the facts about the industry's alcohol policies:

Not all casinos provide free alcohol to their customers. Of the 22 states with commercial casino gaming, casinos in only 13—Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and West Virginia—are permitted to offer free alcohol to their patrons.



If only 13 states of 22 states offered FREE ALCOHOL, why was it imperative?

The AGA comments fail to note hours of service.

Connecticut does NOT offer 24/7/365 FREE ALCOHOL SERVICE because of the high incidence of DRUNKEN DRIVERS and serious accidents.

Why did Beacon Hill?

What privately owned business can offer FREE ALCOHOL in Massachusetts?

What privately owned business can serve alcohol 24/7/365?

20 Slot Parlors Needed For 15,000 Jobs

Beacon Hill continues to be mathematically challenged.

The Commonwealth is blessed with the experience and the statistics of others.

This from the past:


From:
Beacon Hill Testimony: Where is your proof?

We are discussing legalizing a business that depends on Addiction and Exploitation for its existence.

The Commonwealth prides itself on intelligent, well considered legislation and transparent public debate.

We hear –

CONSTRUCTION JOBS

Sands Bethlehem Casino Resort

is building a




300 room hotel whose construction will employ



350 people.



Where are the THOUSANDS of construction jobs that you promise?

Will those jobs go to Massachusetts residents?

Will they be union jobs?

Is there a guarantee?


What if those construction jobs fail to materialize?

Will the Casinos/Slot Parlors pay a penalty?

Will they escrow funds to employ the balance of those promised jobs?


Of - CASINO JOBS

How many jobs will be created?

First we were told 15,000.

Then it grew to 19,000.

Who is providing the numbers?

Who is demanding proof?

If Sands created




780 JOBS with 3,000 Slots,


you need


20 Slot Parlors to create 15,000 JOBS.

(That's almost 4 slot machines for each job.)


If each slot machine permanently removes ONE job from the local economy, that's a net loss of 2,020 jobs.


The Spectrum Gaming Report for the CT DOSR addressed 'cannibalization' indicating that 40% of the jobs created were not 'new' jobs, but actually were transfers of local private sector jobs that were lost.


Is there a plan to replace those jobs? Those are local small businesses that will disappear.

A report on the proposed casino in West Warwick, Rhode Island considered:

To what extent might a casino change the labor market?

The authors find that the opening of a large casino was associated with a 0.6 percentage point drop in the host county’s unemployment rate.

Of Atlantic City --

... [casino] jobs represented about 78 percent of the city’s private-sector jobs.2 A high proportion of casino jobs are open to low-skill workers, and on any given day, many go unfilled. Yet in 1999 the city’s poverty rate was 23.6 percent, while the national rate was 11.3 percent; unemployment stood at 12.9 percent in 2000, compared to 5.8 percent in the nation.3 The city’s poverty rate is actually a bit higher than before the beginning of legalized gambling in 1978 ….



...the low-skill service jobs available in casinos or other industries may not provide enough income to escape poverty. Residents often noted that they or someone they knew held two or three casino jobs in order to make ends meet.

Ball State University

A study of West Virginian racinos —


horse and dog racing facilities that added casino games — during 1978-2004 found that counties with such operations realized a one-time 1.1 percent increase in employment while the average salary in that area fell by as much as 2.9 percent due to the addition of a large number of low-paying jobs.

...found the average annual salary of a racino employee is less than $14,000. This was near minimum wage at the time of the study.


Of Mississippi --

Casino gambling was legalized in Mississippi back in 1990 and the first casino opened in August, 1992.




If gambling is such a great economic driver, shouldn't they be doing better than we are by now?


In 1989, 24.1% for Mississippi residents were living in poverty. [80 of 82 countries exceeded the national average for residents living in poverty.] (National average: 13.1% of Americans were living in poverty.)

In 2008, with 29 casinos, 20.8% were living in poverty. [80 of 82 counties exceeded the national average for residents living in poverty.] (National average: 13.8% of Americans were living in poverty.)




In Connecticut:

Low wage jobs have forced 'hot bedding.'

Both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have recruited low wage workers from overseas because they're unable to fill the jobs locally.


The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies in its January update report (Table 29) discloses that the weighted average wage for 75 percent of the jobs at a typical U.S. casino is
$9.60 per hour (not including tips, 2008 data).



The recent economic downturn and high unemployment was caused by Casino Capitalism and “Something for Nothing” schemes that convinced many that they could gamble their way to prosperity without hard work.

We need jobs we can be proud to work, that offer a future and provide for advancement. We don't need low wage dead end jobs slot parlors offer.

Massachusetts Slot Barn Loans

When our friends at Casino Free Philadelphia began their campaign:

Name that loan!


it was reminiscent of the willingness of Massachusetts lawmakers to genuflect before the Gambling Lobbyists, giving them everything their black hearts desire, consumers be damned!


Senate Rejects Protection in Favor of Industry


Serve patrons FREE ALCOHOL, get 'em intoxicated and get 'em to sign on the dotted line!

It simply doesn't get any sleazier than that!

Resorts, Atlantic City: Anti-Union Pay Cuts

The Massachusetts Gambling Proponents trotted out union members they had transported from Atlantic City to Gardner Auditorium to glow about how wonderful their union casino jobs were. They raved about the pay and benefits, Yada Yada Yada.

After listening to the WONDERS OF IT ALL, only one Senator asked what the starting wage was.

After huddling, the union members were forced to acknowledge
'about $10 an hour.'

Of Atlantic City casino jobs, this says it all -

...the low-skill service jobs available in casinos or other industries may not provide enough income to escape poverty. Residents often noted that they or someone they knew held two or three casino jobs in order to make ends meet.

From: Beacon Hill's Gullibility!

It should come as no surprise that the Atlantic City Casinos are cost cutting on the backs of low wage workers, regardless of the rosy promises being offered in Massachusetts.

This isn't the way to grow the economy in Massachusetts.

NJ casino union protests pay cuts at Resorts
By WAYNE PARRY

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Thousands of casino workers protested outside Resorts Casino Hotel on Thursday, denouncing steep pay cuts most employees had to take when new owners bought the casino last year and throwing down the gauntlet to all 11 of the city's casinos with contract talks coming up soon.

Bob McDevitt, president of the union, Local 54 of Unite-HERE, said Resorts' actions were shameful and can't be allowed to occur at other casinos in the struggling gambling town.

The union, which represents housekeepers, food and beverage workers and other service staff at the casinos, has been seething since Resorts was sold in December. Casino industry veteran and former Las Vegas mob investigator Dennis Gomes and New York real estate magnate Morris Bailey bought Resorts at the fire sale price of $31.5 million, a small fraction of the $140 million its previous owners paid for it a decade ago.

Gomes says, legally, Resorts didn't cut anyone's pay, that it was hiring employees at starting salaries after the previous owners terminated everyone when the sale went through.

But regardless of the terminology, those who remained working at Resorts now do so for significantly less money than they earned before. Shirish Patel, a porter at the casino-hotel, earned $14.55 an hour before the sale and now earns $10.59.

"I understand the economy is no good, but this is way beyond the economy being no good," he said. "This is a massacre."

He said his former salary "was a modest life."

"I wasn't rich, but I was in the middle class," he said. "Now I pay my mortgager, and there's nothing left. I've gone through six months of savings, and soon there will be nothing left of that, too."

Patel, who is married and has a son, said his family has had to drastically scale back its lifestyle.

"Going out to dinner, seeing a movie or taking a vacation - those things are no more," he said. "I only do things now that don't cost money. It's just basic survival: eat, sleep, work and pay your bills."

Gomes says the lower salaries were essential to keeping Resorts open. The casino was hemorrhaging money, its former owners walked away from it and handed title over to their lenders and the business was within days of having to close when Gomes and Bailey bought it.

Gomes also said the union should brace itself for givebacks rather than raises in upcoming contract talks.

"Because the industry is in such dire condition, there had to be givebacks," he said. "Other unions have understood that. They helped us survive, and we were able to keep their people working. This union is going to have to as well. There is no other way out. It's just reality. They have to help us if they want this industry to survive."

Atlantic City, the nation's second-largest gambling market after Las Vegas, has been losing revenue and market share to casinos in Pennsylvania and New York for 4 1/2 years.

But McDevitt, the union president, said Gomes and Bailey can afford to provide their workers decent wages.

"In Atlantic City, it is not morally acceptable for a billionaire to build his business on putting their employees into poverty, and that's what Morris Bailey is doing," McDevitt said. "They keep talking like they should get a merit badge because they bought the place for two cents on the dollar. But there's people who have lost three, four, five dollars an hour. They're earning now what they made 16 years ago. That's a disgrace."

Marcos Vidal, who's from the Dominican Republic and has been a housekeeper at Resorts for 18 years, said his pay went from $14.55 an hour to $9.83.

"Because of that, I don't have any Internet anymore, I don't make long-distance calls and I can't send my mother money anymore," he said.

Besides singling out Resorts, Thursday's protest also marked a tactical muscle-flexing by the union, which will start contract talks in the coming weeks with nine of the 11 casinos. In 2004, after contract negotiations broke down, the union went on strike for 34 days.

Governor Patrick, Don’t Roll Out the Slot Parlors Just Yet

The Ball State University Study referenced in the article below, is found here in additional detail:

Racinos Create Low Paying Jobs


Governor Patrick, Don’t Roll Out the Slot Parlors Just Yet
BY Jason Schwartz

At this point, it’s pretty safe to add the State House’s debate over whether or not to legalize casinos to the list of things in Boston that feel like they will never, ever end — up there with winter, Mayor Menino’s time in office, and the Big Dig (What, you thought it was done?
Better check the lights). With Governor Deval Patrick, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Terry Murray all in favor of expanded gambling, though, many feel that action may finally be coming. The only hangup has been that while DeLeo has insisted that we allow race tracks to install slot machines — his district includes both Wonderland Greyhound Park and Suffolk Downs horse track — Patrick has been dead set against it.

Yesterday, the governor
indicated he was open to compromise. During a radio appearance on WTKK, he said, “If it helps get a deal, I will accept one slot parlor that is competitively bid anywhere in the commonwealth. I’ve been clear about that with the leadership, and I think that is the framework for an agreement on those principles.”

That’s a position he held briefly last summer, and it’s too bad that he’s returned to it. Slot parlors are bad news — not just socially, but for the economy as well. Two years ago, I wrote
a column in the magazine about that very fact, and it remains just as true today as it was then. The key point:

According to a new study of West Virginia racinos published by Ball State University, counties that installed slots at racetracks benefited from a one-time employment boost of 1.1 percent. Over the course of 26 years, however, the average salary in those same counties fell by up to almost 3 percent. In other words, racinos create low-paying jobs that depress other salaries in the area.

There are plenty of other reasons that slot parlors would be bad for Massachusetts, some of which I cover in that column. Hopefully, the governor will reconsider.

Governor Patrick ignores Democratic Faithful

Governor Patrick has betrayed those who supported him in his bid for election and then re-election by his support of Predatory Gambling:

Democratic Resolution:

A majority of delegates stood and approved a resolution to oppose legalization of slot machines and any similar efforts to promote addictive and predatory gambling as a means to raise state revenues.

RESOLUTION:

Whereas the Democratic Party has a long and proud tradition of advocating for social justice, working for policies that promote the public health, and fighting to protect citizens from exploitative and predatory business practices;


And whereas modern slot machines use neuroscience-informed technology to mesmerize and entrap gamblers and to keep them playing until they have exhausted their resources ("playing to extinction");

And whereas medical research has documented the highly addictive nature of the brain's chemical reactions to slot machine stimulation;

And whereas licensing and promoting such addictive, predatory gambling technology for the purpose of raising State revenues goes against the aforementioned values and principles for which the Democratic Party has long stood, and is at odds with the ideals that underlie our Party's honorable and consistent struggle to end the deceptive and predatory lending, marketing, and pricing practices that have pushed so many families to the brink;

And whereas legalizing slot machines would erode participation in the Lottery and siphon away from local small businesses the discretionary spending on goods and services that they depend on;

And whereas the development of slot machine parlors would neither create significant new jobs, nor increase tourism in Massachusetts;

And whereas evidence from other states indicates that the long-term costs of gambling addiction -- increased substance abuse, increased crime, increased family discord and dysfunction -- outweigh the short term benefits of licenses and gambling revenues;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Massachusetts Democratic Party, as a matter of both principle and policy, opposes the legalization of slot machines and any similar efforts to promote addictive and predatory gambling as a means of raising public revenues.

Honeymoon over! Gambling-related crimes up

Gambling-related crimes up

More than 200 casino-related crimes reported in the first three months of 2011

In the first quarter of 2011, Macau authorities reported a total of 217 casino-related crimes, the secretary for security, Cheong Kuoc VĂ¡ announced last month. Of those, 186 took place inside casinos.

Loan sharking was the most common crime detected (35 cases), followed by pick-pocketing (29).

Although he didn’t provide detailed figures, Mr Cheong admitted that casino-related crimes have increased. “Gaming revenues have been very strong over the past five months, meaning that a lot of people have come to Macau to gamble. The crime derived from surrounding the casinos certainly increased proportionally,” he said.

Gambling Addict settles + $2.2 million in Gambling Debts

Plum TV's Jerry Powers Settles More Than $2.2 Million in Gambling Debts
By Michael Miller

Old habits die hard, it seems. Between 1977 and 1984, Ocean Drive founder and current Plum TV exec Jerry Powers was sued 13 times for money owed.

"I was dependent on drugs when I did those things," he told New Times two years ago. "I was stoned and broke. There is no question I wrote checks even though I didn't have money to cover them."

Now Powers is in hot water once again for writing bad checks. This time, however, the culprit isn't drugs but another vice: blackjack tables.

Powers, a New Jersey native who started out in Miami Beach in the late '60s by publishing the controversial Daily Planet and Miami Free Press, sold Ocean Drive for $33 million in 2007 and is now leading Plum's expansion into films and magazines.

According to the Associated Press, however, his old habits of compulsive behavior and writing bad checks have caught up with him.

The AP reports Powers has been hounded for months by lawsuits from three casinos claiming he owes them huge gambling debts. On Wednesday, he settled with the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut over an unpaid $1.2 million line of credit he had allegedly blown through playing blackjack.

Powers also racked up a $1 million tab at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and an unknown bill at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

"It was a chapter. It was closed. Everybody's paid, and I'm really happy about it," the 65-year-old told the AP.

Like nearly 30 years ago, however, Powers could face legal problems even after paying the three casinos:

In the Connecticut and Atlantic City cases, both casinos accused Powers of signing agreements for lines of credit and later writing checks to the casinos that bounced. In the Mohegan Sun case, casino officials accused Powers of stopping payment on a $465,000 check, while other checks were returned because the accounts were closed.

Trump Taj Mahal lawyers alleged in their lawsuit that Powers wrote four checks totaling just over $1 million to the casino to repay the line of credit there. Those checks also bounced, and the lawsuit claims Powers knew there wasn't enough money in his accounts to cover the payments.

Powers had fought the Mohegan Sun lawsuit, arguing that the credit line was an illegal gambling contract and that state courts had no jurisdiction over a gambling dispute on the reservation of the sovereign Mohegan Tribe, which runs the casino.

Wednesday's settlement means Powers is no longer at risk of losing his media empire to the Mohegan Sun. But it doesn't rule out criminal charges.

In other words, don't expect those Plum TV Art Basel reruns to end anytime soon.

If Massachusetts is growing faster than states with Predatory Gambling ...

... doesn't that tell you something?

Instead of supporting and proposing Cash Sucking Machines [Slot Machines] in the Commonwealth, it might seem that commonsense should prevail.

Remember: Each Slot Machine permanently removes ONE job from the local economy.


Massachusetts didn't suffer as badly, party due to the Rainy Day Fund and not cutting jobs.


Statistics here: States That Cut The Most Spending Have Lost The Most Jobs



Mass. Outpaces U.S. In Q2 Economic Growth

BOSTON — Two reports out Friday offer encouraging news for the Massachusetts economy.

MassBenchmarks, a report from the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute with the Boston Federal Reserve Bank, says the state’s economy grew at an annual rate of 4.3 percent last quarter.

The Massachusetts growth rate easily outpaced the growth of the nation’s economy, which expanded at a meager rate of 1.3 percent rate in the second quarter.

“We sell information technology, medical science and knowledge-based goods and services to other states and other countries, and those sectors have performed better than the U.S. economy as a whole,” said Alan Clayton-Matthews, a Northeastern University economics professor and MassBenchmarks’ editor.

It’s the fourth consecutive quarter Massachusetts has outperformed the national economy.

MassBenchmarks says it expects Massachusetts growth to stay at similar levels through the end of the year.

Another forecast, from the Beacon Hill Institute, offers a more tempered prediction of just under 3 percent growth through the end of the year.

The Beacon Hill Institute report says it also expects the state to add 84,000 jobs by the end of 2011.

...to sell drugs because his out-of-control gambling addiction...

Popular Hartford Eatery's Co-Owner Gets Five Years For Drug Dealing
By EDMUND H. MAHONY, The Hartford Courant

One of the owners of the popular Maple Giant Grinder in the South End was sentenced to five years in prison after federal prosecutors said he was involved in the sale of as much as 28 pounds of cocaine.

Frank Puzzo's lawyers argued in court that he was forced to sell drugs because his out-of-control gambling addiction and his own drug use left him chronically in debt. They also said that Puzzo had an "extremely low range of intellectual functioning" that made him a candidate for leniency.

Federal prosecutors rejected the leniency pitch. They said that Puzzo, 37, most recently of East Hartford, had had enough intellectual capacity to become one of the city's top drug dealers.

"Many individuals boast of being kilo-weight traffickers or aspire to such status," the U.S. Attorney's office wrote in a sentencing memo filed in federal court. "Few actually have the wherewithal and means to get to that level. But, despite his low level of intellectual functioning, this defendant succeeded."

The government said the drug sales that led to Puzzo's arrest took place over about a year in 2009 and 2010 and sometimes involved transactions with a New Britain-based cocaine ring led by Steve Velez. The New Britain organization supplied cocaine to users in New Britain and Hartford, the prosecutors said.

Federal authorities said they seized 57 pounds of cocaine, 4.4 pounds of crack cocaine, $650,000 in cash, one firearm and several vehicles in connection with the arrests of Puzzo, Velez and 18 others.

Authorities said that Puzzo once paid Velez and a partner $66,000 for 4.4 pounds of cocaine. On other occasions they said that Puzzo indirectly supplied Velez and his partner with 13 pounds. Authorities said that a pound of cocaine substantially increases in volume as it moves down the distribution chain and is cut or adulterated with additives two or three times.

Both Puzzo and Velez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 11 pounds or more of cocaine.

Velez was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Puzzo received a shorter sentence because he had no prior criminal record.

Alabama: Judge: No dismissals

Judge: No dismissals in Ala. gambling corruption trial
By John Shryock

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The federal gambling corruption trial will continue in downtown Montgomery. Thursday morning, Judge Myron Thompson declined all motions for acquittal and dismissal of charges against all defendants.

The decision means all charges against Macon County casino owner Milton McGregor and eight other defendants are upheld, for now..

Federal prosecutors believe the defendants schemed to buy and sell votes on legislation to allow gambling in Alabama.

Thompson, presiding of a trial in its eighth week, admitted he has reservations about some of the charges in the 39-count indictment and some concerns about some of the defendants in the trial.

The judge said he will rule on the conspiracy charges at the end of the presentation of evidence.

The prosecution rested its case on Tuesday. Wednesday was spent hearing arguments from the defense on why many charges should be thrown out. The jury was not present during that time.

The defense now gets its chance to present its case.

CLICK HERE to visit WSFA.COM's page dedicated to this trial.

Alabama: Denton disputes gambling trial testimony

Denton disputes gambling trial testimony
By Robert Palmer, Staff Writer

Former state Sen. Bobby Denton has been mentioned recently in testimony in the ongoing gambling corruption trial involving casino operators and state officials, and he said some of what was presented is misleading.

Denton, a Muscle Shoals Democrat, did not seek re-election in 2010 after serving more than 30 years in the Legislature. He has not been implicated in any wrongdoing in the federal probe of alleged bribery of state officials by casino owners and lobbyists.

“I kind of felt like they were insinuating I was used,” Denton said of wiretapped phone conversations played last week in court.

Prosecutors played wiretapped calls in court between lobbyists representing Ronnie Gilley, who owns Country Crossings in southeast Alabama. The lobbyists, Jarrod Massey and Jennifer Pouncy, along with Gilley, talked about using country music stars George Jones and Randy Owen, of the group Alabama, to convince Denton to support a bill legalizing bingo.

Among the conversations was one in which Gilley said Denton asked Owen to sing a duet with him on a Christmas CD he was recording. The song was “Christmas in Dixie,” which was a huge hit for Alabama.

Denton said things happened a little differently.

“From what I gather is on the tapes, they said he (Owen) was to get me to come on board” in support of the bill, Denton said. “Randy asked me to vote for the bill, and I told him I could not do that. He was a little perturbed.”

Gilley’s development of Country Crossing was to include restaurants and theaters named for country stars. Gilley said Jones was paid to be the spokesman for the project.

Jones attended the 2010 Alabama Music Hall of Fame banquet, during which Denton was inducted. Denton recorded the first hit single to come out of Muscle Shoals, 1957’s “A Falling Star.” He had other minor hits and appeared on Dick Clark’s TV show before leaving the music business in the early 1960s.

Denton said he received few phone calls about the bill before the Senate’s vote.

“They came around to see me to see where I was on it, then left me alone,” he said.

Denton ultimately voted to release the bill from the Senate because he said it was holding up other, more important business.

“I voted for cloture” to end the debate, he said.

Denton also said he received phone calls from constituents who wanted to vote on whether to allow gambling in Alabama.

“Who are we to deny the people the right to vote,” he said.

Alabama: Charges stand

Charges stand despite judge's reservations in gambling corruption trial
Written by Sebastian Kitchen

The judge presiding over one of the largest corruption trials in Alabama history declined Thursday to drop any of the charges or remove any of the defendants in a case alleging that casino owners and their lobbyists tried to bribe lawmakers to support gambling legislation.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson said, as he indicated in his questioning a day earlier, he had serious reservations about charges against some of the defendants, but denied defense attorneys' motions and arguments for acquittal. He listened to more than eight hours of arguments Wednesday.

Thompson said he would continue to consider those issues. He said he would rule on whether there was a conspiracy between the nine defendants after they have presented their case.

Defense attorneys were quick to point out that Thompson left the door open to dropping charges.

"Yes, I was very surprised," Susan James, an attorney for Country Crossing spokesman Jay Walker, said about the judge's decision. She said Thompson asked very serious questions about the involvement of her client in the alleged scheme.

But, James added, "I think they always like for the jury to make the decision."
Joe Espy, lead attorney for VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor, said he was not surprised by Thompson's decision, which he said is common in a case of this magnitude.

Espy said Thursday that he and his legal team could work through the night to decide if they would even present a defense and whether McGregor would take the witness stand. He hoped to know those decisions, after consulting with the attorneys and his client and his family, by today.

Espy said they must decide if prosecutors had met the burden of proof.

"If we don't think they're close, it'd be foolish to go forward," he said.

When asked how the jury might interpret that, Espy said "I hope it'll send a message we don't think the government has a case."

Espy said they had a large number of witnesses on standby, although he said they had whittled their potential witness list down from about 80 to about 50.

(Page 2 of 3)

The defendants include McGregor; Walker; state Sens. Quinton Ross of Montgomery and Harri Anne Smith of Slocomb; former state Sens. Larry Means of Attalla and Jim Preuitt of Talladega; lobbyists Tom Coker and Bob Geddie; and former legislative analyst and attorney Ray Crosby.

Their defense

After Thompson's ruling, attorneys for Coker began to present their defense. Bill Baxley, a Coker attorney who is a former state attorney general, called Richard Whitaker, director of governmental affairs for the Medical Association of Alabama for 37 years, to the stand.

He testified that funds the indictment and prosecutors allege went to Ross as a bribe to vote for the gambling legislation were not related to gambling and that the association had contributed to Ross, a member of the health committee in the Senate, for years.

Ross has been accused of pushing McGregor and other casino interests for money in 2010 leading up to the Senate vote on the gambling legislation. McGregor told him, when they talked in late March 2010, he had already contributed, but would have his lobbyists encourage their other clients to contribute to the senator. The Senate voted on the bill March 30, 2010.

Coker, in a conversation secretly recorded by the FBI, told McGregor that he would get the medical association and those representing "soft drinks" to contribute to Ross.

The political action committee for the medical association contributed $10,000 to Ross that May, which the indictment contends was part of the conspiracy to bribe Ross to vote for the legislation and in response to McGregor's request of Coker to find Ross campaign help.

Prosecutor Edward Kang with the U.S. Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section provided documentation that he said indicated that Coker and Whitaker talked the same day that Coker told McGregor he would push for contributions from his clients. Baxley said them talking was not unusual since Coker worked for the association.

When asked by Kang about the contribution, Whitaker said "we're not involved in the bingo legislation or gambling. ... It wasn't involved with any gambling vote."

(Page 3 of 3)

Whitaker said the association contributed $10,000 to Ross in 2006 and $5,000 in 2002.

Lewis Gillis, an attorney for Ross, said Whitaker's testimony about the contribution was revealing and significant.

Espy said it is obvious the "Ross contribution had nothing to do with gaming."
When asked by Baxley, Whitaker also said although he had signed the check, neither FBI agents nor prosecutors ever came to ask him about the contribution to Ross' campaign. Gillis questioned federal authorities not even inquiring about the contribution that is the source of a charge against his client.

Whitaker said a doctor requested that the association's PAC contribute to Ross in 2010. He said Ross also called him and asked for a contribution.

Whitaker said that, for a candidate to receive a contribution, a physician must make a request, a committee of doctors in that congressional district must approve it, and then a statewide committee of 18 doctors must approve that.

"I'm the one that put it before the board," Whitaker said.

Whitaker also said Ross was on the health committee during his first two terms in the Senate.

"I found that he would listen if we approached him. If we had a bill or there was a bill before the committee, he would listen to us about a proposed amendment," he said. " ... I can't remember a time he voted against any of our suggestions on the health committee."

Whitaker said he talked to Coker and Ross about contributing to the senator. He said he asked Ross if he had an opponent.

"He explained he was trying to help his fellow Democrats stay in the majority," Whitaker said of Ross.

Whitaker said he asked Coker if everyone trying to raise money was raising money for their political caucuses.

Whitaker said Coker told him that he thinks Ross was designated by the caucus to raise funds for other candidates since he was unopposed.

"He was interested in a larger amount of money than I thought would be accepted or approved by our committee" because he was unopposed, Whitaker said. Whitaker did not recall the amount, but said it was at least double the $10,000 that the association's PAC gave to Ross.

When asked by Baxley, Whitaker said that in 2010 the association's PAC contributed $15,000 each to then-state Sens. Scott Beason and Steve French, who were also witnesses for the prosecution in this case.

"Anybody ever indicated that contribution to Senator Beason was a federal crime?" Baxley asked Whitaker.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Las Vegas: 4th Slaying nothing to do with smut

Commissioner wants casinos to help clean up Strip
Posted By MaryAnn Martinez, Reporter

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) - A fourth slaying near the Las Vegas Strip this summer is raising questions about who is responsible for making sure the Strip's reputation isn't tarnished with tourists.

Requests for interviews from MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment, the Strip's largest property owners, went unanswered or were declined.

So was a request with the Nevada Resort Association. County Commissioner Mary Beth Scow, who represents most of the Strip, also declined to comment.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitor's Authority, responsible for attracting tourism, emailed FOX5 a statement saying safety is its number one priority.

"These were isolated incidents, and there is no indication it has impacted visitation," the statement said.

The Stage Door Casino was dragged into this after the latest murder happened down the street from it.

"There is nobody personal to blame," said General Manager Alan Hoffman. "It's a tough situation."

Although Hoffman has never seen this many murders on Las Vegas Boulevard in such a short time span, he believed they cannot be prevented.

"Unfortunately the economy does bring upon problems, but I believe (police) is doing their job."

Hoffman said the bigger issue is the smut, including the water vendors and peddlers with X-rated cards.

Yesterday, County Commissioner Steve Sisolak told FOX5 he wants to form a work group with the casinos, law enforcement and other stake holders to clean up the smut.

"I can't believe how many people have called and written and emailed and stopped me in the way into work today," said Sisolak of the response from constituents and casinos.

Sisolak admits he did receive a few messages from people who do not believe the smut is a major issue. Sisolak issued a challenge to every casino president on the Strip. He calls on them to take a walk down Las Vegas Boulevard so they can see the situation with their own eyes.

Despite the problem with smut, Sisolak believes there is no connection between the smut and violence on the Strip.

"You'd like to live in a city that there are no murders," he said. "Unfortunately, that city doesn't exist."

Ex-Barclays adviser jailed for fraud to fund Gambling Addiction

Ex-Barclays adviser jailed for £600k fraud
By Chris Salih

An ex-Barclays adviser has been jailed after stealing £600,000 from dead, elderly and ill customers to fund his gambling addiction.

James Leonard Finnigan was jailed for four years at the Old Bailey on July 15, having pleaded guilty to the fraud. Finnigan worked as an adviser at a Barclays branch in Twickenham between 1999 and May 2010.

.Detective sergeant Ben Flannaghan, who led the investigation, said: “It may be cliched to describe a criminal as heartless but in this instance it is difficult to think of a more apt description.

“James Finnigan appeared to target customers who were elderly in the hope of avoiding detection, in some cases going as far as taking money from accounts when customers had recently died. There can be no justifications for his actions, and his sentence reflects that.”

A Barclays spokesman says: “We have a zero-tolerance policy towards staff fraud. Where any employee involvement is suspected, individuals will be suspended, investigated and, where there is evidence of misconduct, dismissed.”

In January, Money Marketing revealed that Barclays was closing its advice arm, Barclays Financial Planning. The bank aims to develop an online execution-only service for mass-market clients instead.