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We have heard of people going to extreme lengths to feed their passion for poker and sometimes a few of them go overboard, even getting on to the wrong side of the law. But it does come as a shock when you get to hear that who but a U.S. Naval Lieutenant can engage in a money laundering fraud just to keep fueling his lifestyle of playing high-stakes poker! The officer in question we hear has now been sentenced to four years in prison.
Good news did come in this week, and this time it was Robert Bellande who shared it. Bellande announced his wife’s pregnancy on Instagram the other day and by the looks of it, the couple seems to have already decided on the baby’s name, who by the way, is a girl!
But while the poker community is joining in Bellande’s celebrations, there was a rather bizzare incident reported about a woman living in Maryland, who ended up losing a slot jackpot when a typo error by the casino employee in noting her social security number led to mistaken identity. As compensation, the casino did give the woman $200 in free play chips though!
Poker and gambling can get out of hands at times and problem gambling happens to be one of the grey areas in the mind sport. Just a month back we had heard that two nuns who had retired from their positions in a California school had admitted to embezzling $500,000 to finance their Las Vegas gambling trips. Now, a perfectly respectable U.S. Naval Lieutenant, Randolph M. Prince was found guilty of engaging in a fraud of up to $2.7 Million, to fuel his poker playing habits.
The 45-year old who worked as a procurement officer in the Navy played with the moniker ‘Katz’. Prince loved to sport flashy cars and had two homes. He was often spotted playing high stakes poker. All that’s fine but when his income tax returns were investigated, Prince was unable to convince the tax officials that he afforded his luxurious way of life simply from his salary.
When the investigations began, it soon came out that Prince, who worked in the Norfolk, Virginia area was involved in a fraud where he along with two others billed the Navy for products seemingly ordered from firms that were run by his partners. He then used to mark the non-existent items as being received by the Navy. This way the trio siphoned away millions of Navy supply funds.
“It’s a shame that he squandered an otherwise outstanding 27-year Naval career,” said Prince’s defense attorney Shawn Clin. “He suffered from a terrible gambling addiction and abused a position of trust to fuel that addiction.”
Clin added, “When his time in service is remembered, it won’t be for the fact that he rose from the lowest enlisted ranks to the grade of Lieutenant, or that he served in a dangerous war zone in direct combat when his nation needed him most. It will be the events of this sentencing hearing that are his legacy.”
Though he had no recorded live cashes to his name, Prince allegedly indulged in a high stakes poker lifestyle from the money he made illegally. He either played cash games or stuck to video slot games.
His gambling addiction thus not only brought him disrepute, but it also negated the time he had served in a dangerous war zone earlier.
Prince’s partners in the scheme, naval flight officer Lt. j.g. Courtney Cloman, and former sailor Clayton Pressley III, also pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the procurement fraud. Pressley allegedly earned $644,000 from his role in the embezzlement and has been sentenced to two years. The third accomplice, Cloman faces a sentence hearing in February.
The biggest and most significant penalties will be dealt out to Prince who was the active government employee and the most crucial chain in the executing the scheme. Though Naval prosecutors sought more than seven years for him, he was sentenced to four years, in addition to being directed to pay up the full $2,719,907 that he had ‘stolen’ from the U.S. Navy.
Year end and start of 2019 seem to have been the time for weddings and engagements for our much-loved poker celebs, so when Jean-Robert Bellande announced that he and his wife, Veronica Llamas were having a baby, it came as a pleasant revelation.
But what Bellande did, was to share more than just the joyful news. He also shared an ultrasound video of the baby in the womb!
In the post Bellande clearly uses the name ‘Bella-Noelle’, hinting at what the baby may be named. It also sounds like the couple already knows that they are having a baby girl.
We distinctly remember a time when Bellande claimed that he was the “unluckiest player in Poker After Dark history.” Bellande surely proved to be lucky in love, and sounded the wedding bells last summer, with Llamas who is a model and met Bellande in Las Vegas. The couple got married in the romantic setting of Punta De Mita in Mexico. Bellande had shared the news of his marriage on Instagram as well.
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For those who are unaware, Bellande who is in the nightclub business also launched a wedding website with his wife in March last year. With the baby coming their way, it seems like a dream spell for Bellande and his amour!
A Maryland-based woman named Cynthia Obie was recently denied her payout of thousands of dollars from a slot machine jackpot after an inadvertent error by one of casino’s employee.
Obie hit the jackpot last week at the MGM National Harbor casino in Washington D.C. and handed over her ID and her Social Security number to the staff member in charge of paying out the jackpot. The employee made a clerical error while noting down her Social Security number by one number which actually belonged to a person who was wanted due to massive unpaid child support!
Due to the social security mix-up, the player was instantly flagged and the state government confiscated the jackpot. The lady was forced to leave the casino without any of the winnings she was entitled to. Later, realizing that the entire goof-up was a fault of one of their employees, the casino tried to dole out some form of compensation. However, Obie was given only $200 in free play and a couple of drink vouchers. The casino management also helped Obie in pursuing the issue with the state to claim her winning.
When asked about the bizarre incident, Obie told media, “I’m like, no. All of my daughters are grown. I’ve never paid child support. I’m like, this can’t be right.”
Since the incident, there hasn’t been much progress for Obie with the state’s Human Service Agency. On its part, the casino management defended itself by saying that since the winning amount had been confiscated by the state, the ball was now in the court of the Maryland Gaming Commission.
“We are aware of this unfortunate error and have taken the necessary steps to assist Ms. Obie in rectifying this issue. Due to MLGCA rules and Maryland State Law, we cannot provide an additional payout for this jackpot, however, if she presents the proper identification credentials to the Maryland Gaming Commission, they will provide her with the appropriate payout. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused Ms. Obie,” said a casino spokesperson.