Feed A Casino Habit
Feed A Casino Habit
By LYN BIXBY
The Hartford Courant August 23, 2000
insidious new kind of crime is taking hold, radiating out across
southern New England from the two Indian casinos in eastern
Connecticut. It is embezzlement committed by desperate gamblers,
usually compulsive gamblers, who work in positions of trust. Their
victims range from businesses to government agencies to families
that are swindled out of their savings.
gamblers steal to feed their addictions and then to recoup their
losses, often devising sophisticated schemes to cover their thefts
while deceiving themselves that they will repay the money. But
they keep losing and stealing and losing and stealing until,
finally, they get caught.
most of them, gambling is a way to escape other problems in their
lives, according to Christopher Armentano, who manages
state-funded treatment programs for gamblers.
have different rationalizations which permit them to take the
money, but it's all to feed that desire to escape," he said.
"It's a circular thing. So one of the things they are
escaping from is the guilt that they feel about having taken the
money. It's a crazy thing."
sampling of criminal cases over the past two years shows that the
amounts of money can be staggering and that an increasing number
of the gamblers are women. In all these cases, the money was used
to gamble at the Foxwoods Resort Casino or the Mohegan Sun casino,
May 1998, Edward Hutner of Rocky Hill was sentenced to prison for
embezzling $1 million from his employer, a CIGNA subsidiary, by
creating fictitious pension plan participants and moving the money
through brokerage firms.
few days later, Norwalk investment adviser Richard Scarso was sent
to prison for stealing $1.4 million from 13 families. In the fall
of 1998, two Massachusetts men, Thomas Aldred and Neal J. Coiley,
were sentenced to prison and home confinement for the theft of
nearly $2 million from the company where Aldred worked by creating
fictitious shipments of supplies.
year, April Corlies was accused of embezzling more than $300,000
from the Cross Sound Ferry Co. in New London by manipulating
records of ticket sales. She is awaiting trial.
Early this year, Lynne M. Frank, who handled bar receipts
at The Bushnell, was charged with embezzling $91,000.
few weeks ago, James Coughlin of Waterford avoided prison in his
home improvement scam by agreeing to partially repay victims, who
lost more than
$200,000. Two weeks
ago, Helen "Pearl" Byrd, a state Department of Social
Services worker, was accused of embezzling almost $200,000 through
fraudulent welfare payments…
The demand for treatment of compulsive gamblers has climbed
steadily since Foxwoods opened in 1992, followed in 1996 by
Mohegan Sun. In 1993, state-funded treatment programs handled 50
clients; last year, the figure was 425.
think the number would be much greater if we spent some time and
money advertising," said Armentano, who coordinates the state
programs for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction