Tyson loses $200 Million on Ghost Cattle

It took a while to notice, but Tyson Foods Inc. eventually realized late last year that more than 200,000 of its cattle seemed to have gone missing on a Washington state ranch.

It turns out that they never existed. That’s the bizarre upshot from the collapse and bankruptcy of Easterday Ranches, which was under contract to house, raise and feed bovines for Tyson. All told, the episode cost the biggest U.S. meat company and another producer more than $200 million, and the rancher who gambled it away on cattle and corn futures may be headed for prison.

Easterday Ranches in Pasco, Washington (is) a real place with real animals formerly run by one Cody Easterday … Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. paid the ranch millions of dollars for purchasing cattle on its behalf and fattening them for slaughter …

But five years ago, Easterday started sticking Tyson with phony invoices for never-purchased animals — “ghost cattle,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice — and used the proceeds to cover steep losses from risky futures trading, court papers show. Over the course of a decade, Cody Easterday lost money every year trading corn and cattle futures in his personal and business accounts, ultimately totaling more than $200 million, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Aw, shucks! He’s just another good ol’ boy. Living the wheeling and dealing … and stealing lifestyle.

Top two officers in US Nuclear Command fired this week

The Air Force fired the general in charge of its nuclear missiles on Friday, just two days after a Navy admiral with top nuclear weapons responsibilities was sacked. Both men are caught up in investigations of alleged personal misconduct, adding to a cascade of turmoil inside the nation’s nuclear weapons force.

The Air Force removed Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, a 35-year veteran, from his command of 20th Air Force, responsible for all 450 of the service’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. Carey…will be reassigned pending the outcome of an investigation into personal misbehavior, the service said.

The Air Force would not specify what Carey is alleged to have done wrong, but two officials with knowledge of the investigation indicated that it was linked to alcohol use…

Removing senior officers in the nuclear force is rare but has happened twice this week.

On Wednesday the Navy said Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, the second-in-charge at U.S. Strategic Command, was fired amid an investigation of gambling issues. He was demoted from three- to two-star rank and reassigned to a Navy staff job until the investigation is completed.

Together, the Carey and Giardina firings add a new dimension to a set of serious problems facing the military’s nuclear force. The ICBM segment in particular has had several recent setbacks, including a failed safety and security inspection at a base in Montana in August, followed by the firing of the colonel there in charge of security forces. In May, The Associated Press revealed that 17 Minuteman 3 missile launch control officers at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., had been taken off duty in a reflection of what one officer there called ‘‘rot’’ inside the ICBM force…

The only anonymous comments so far are from people obviously glad to say that sex and crime weren’t involved. There’s a hell of a comment on what our military is all about. I won’t wander off into my usual rant about the money we waste with over 750 foreign bases. Suffice it to say the cost of every member of every military service stationed outside the United States costs taxpayers double what it would be if they were here at home. Isn’t this what we’re supposed to be defending? Not Guam. Not Kazakhstan. Not the Azores.

If we did bring our troops home from the 150 or so countries where they’re stationed, we could put them to work, you know. Only a dimwit tries to ignore the infrastructure continuing to collapse around us. Highways, railroads, bridges, airports, schools – all could use something more than a lick of paint to bring them up to safe standards. We wouldn’t be the first nation to assign our military to useful domestic tasks. I think it’s overdue.

US nuclear commander suspended in gambling probe

A vice admiral who is second in command at the United States Strategic Command, which oversees nuclear war-fighting forces for the military, has been suspended amid an investigation into his possible involvement in illegal gambling, officials said on Saturday.

The officer, Vice Adm. Timothy M. Giardina, is a highly decorated sailor with more than three decades in the Navy. The suspension occurred on Sept. 3, but was not announced publicly, said Capt. Pamela Kunze…

The Strategic Command was first alerted about the issue in mid-July. A month earlier, Admiral Giardina became the target of an inquiry being conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation into possible use of counterfeit gambling chips at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, said David Dales, the head of the Southwest division of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

Mr. Dales said the criminality in question involved poker at the casino, but said he could provide no further information. The agency’s investigation is still open and no state charges have been filed against Admiral Giardina, Mr. Dales said…

The commander of the Strategic Command, General C. Robert Kehler, has submitted a recommendation to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Admiral Giardina be reassigned, Captain Kunze said. It has not been determined what, if any, additional actions will be taken. The leadership of the Strategic Command is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The Strategic Command, based at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, oversees a web of military efforts including the military’s space and cyberwarfare operations. It also controls the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Oops! It may sound silly to some that questions of security are raised; but, whenever behavior occurs that could place someone at risk for blackmail any security system has to be examined. He may only turn out to be dishonest. 🙂

Singing financial adviser defrauds clients of more than $5 million

Dearman is the one who doesn’t get up and dance

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has accused a former Oklahoma investment adviser and wedding singer of raising at least $4.7 million through various illegal schemes with the help of a Bartlesville businesswoman. The pair then used investors’ money on gambling and other personal expenses, as well as to pay off earlier investors, according to a court filing.

The SEC filed a civil suit against Larry J. Dearman Sr., 40, of Tulsa, and his friend and business associate Marya Gray, 50, of Bartlesville. The Bartlesville-based wireless service provider Bartnet Wireless and northwest Oklahoma convenience store chain Quench Bud’s also were named as defendants in the lawsuit, as well as shell company The Property Shoppe Inc….

The lawsuit claims Dearman fraudulently obtained millions of dollars from more than 30 clients. Dearman promised his clients he would invest their money into various businesses owned or controlled by Gray, the lawsuit says. Instead, Dearman and Gray used investors’ money to gamble and for personal expenses as well as to pay off other investors in a Ponzi-type scheme, the SEC claims.

Dearman stole an additional $700,000 from some of his clients “through various ruses,” the SEC said in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tulsa.

“Dearman and Gray were able to lure these clients in part because many of them had known him and his family since childhood, thought of him as an active member of their church and knew him as a popular local wedding singer,” the SEC claims…

Gray gambled away more than $1.1 million over the course of the scheme, which lasted from 2008 to 2012, the SEC claims in its lawsuit.

Kind of gives you a clearer picture of the gullible voters in Oklahoma who keep on re-electing sleazy conservatives like Tom Coburn and James Inhofe. Quote the King James bible enough, blather about bringing free money to Oklahoma – blame everything bad on furriners and the federal government – you got it made.

Casinos ban gamblers from using Google Glass

google-glass-ban

Casinos in several states are forbidding gamblers from wearing Google Glass, the tiny eyeglasses-mounted device capable of shooting photos, filming video and surfing the Internet.

Regulators say the gadgets could be used to cheat at card games.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement issued a directive on Monday ordering Atlantic City’s 12 casinos to bar casino patrons from using the device…

Similar bans are in place at casinos in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Connecticut, among other places.

…It would be difficult to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the glasses were actually being used to cheat, David Rebuck wrote. For that and other reasons, he decided to ban the glasses on the casino floor and anywhere else gambling is taking place.

‘‘Even if the glasses had not been used for cheating … their presence at a gaming table would lead to the perception that something untoward could be occurring, thereby undermining public confidence in the integrity of gaming,’’ he wrote in the directive.

Perish the thought someone doesn’t trust the Lords of Chance.

In Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts have directed their security workers to ask patrons to remove the devices before beginning to gamble…

The edict will also be applied at casinos in Cincinnati and Cleveland.

In Pennsylvania, state regulators plan to advise its 11 casinos that an existing regulation prohibiting gamblers from using electronic devices at a table game also applies to the Google Glass…

Mohegan Sun in Connecticut also bans the devices on the casino floor.

Presented as a public service to geeks who think they just came up with a new way to rake in tons of money at casinos. Too late!

Three biggest online poker houses busted by the FBI

In a major crackdown on online gambling, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office have charged the founders of the three biggest Internet poker sites with fraud, illegal gambling and laundering billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds.

The FBI said Friday it’s indicting 11 defendants — including the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker — with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses. The feds also seized five Internet domain names used by the companies to host their poker games and issued restraining orders against 75 bank accounts in 14 countries used to process payments. The U.S. attorney’s office is also seeking $3 billion in damages. The defendants could face maximum penalties of 30 years in prison $1 million fines.

Visitors to FullTiltPoker.com and AbsolutePoker.com Saturday were met with a notice from the FBI declaring the domain names had been seized by federal authorities — along with a reminder that illegal gambling is a federal crime.

PokerStars posted a statement early Saturday through its computer software and on Twitter saying the company has had to suspend real money play to customers based in the U.S., according to the Associated Press.

“Please be assured player balances are safe. There is no cause for concern,” the statement said. “For all customers outside the U.S. it is business as usual

The feds say the sites violate the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed in 2006. The offshore poker companies have argued they operate outside the reach of U.S. law. The U.S. government considers Internet gambling to be illegal. Still, it’s been estimated up 15 million Americans gamble up to $6 billion per year online.

Like most American morality the question comes down to money. It’s why most drugs – especially marijuana – were made illegal. And booze – for a spell. Leadership and ethics once again are missing in action from the arena of gaming and American politics.

Most nations outside the U.S. simply negotiate an arrangement with gaming firms for a percentage tax. Here we have to satisfy the gambling monopoly granted to Nevada – and the endless moralizing by religious hypocrites. So, gambling operating as perfectly legal – and regulated businesses – in other countries are made illegal. And anyone who wishes to gamble from home is required to use illegal means to participate.

People who want to gamble will find a way. One of the greatest temptations in archaic moralizing is the opportunity to violate a law you know is stupid.

Shooter waited a day to turn himself in – had to keep a date with his mom to go gambling!

A man accused of shooting an 80-year-old man in the head and stuffing the body into the trunk of his own car waited to tell police so he could spend a day gambling with his mother, according to court documents.

Robert L. Johnson, 40, of Byers, is being held without bond at the Arapahoe County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. The body was found in a car trunk Saturday as police searched a vehicle, parked at the Arapahoe County Justice Center, for a bomb.

Johnson had arrived at the justice complex at about noon Saturday to turn himself in on a failure to appear warrant out of Denver. While there he asked to talk to someone privately because he “wanted to confess to a murder,” according to the arrest affidavit…

Johnson told investigators that he had called the 80-year-old man and told him his truck wouldn’t start. The victim came in his vehicle to help, opened the trunk to get a tow rope and Johnson, who was standing directly behind him, shot the man in the back of the head, the court document said.

The victim fell half way into the trunk and Johnson shoved the body in the rest of the way, closed the trunk and wiped up some blood…

After the shooting, Johnson drove to the victim’s home in Byers and fed the man’s cat. Johnson, according to the affidavit, “opened several cabinet and dresser drawers to make it look like a robbery took place,” but decided that it was a “dumb thing to do and closed everything back up.”

He had wanted to tell authorities about the shooting on Thursday, but he waited so he could go gambling with his mother on Friday…

On Saturday morning Johnson went by the victim’s home and fed the cat again before heading out to the Arapahoe County Jail.

OK. There are dumb murderers. There are strange murderers. Then, there are dumb, strange, truly weird murderers.

California welfare debit cards used for million$ at casino ATMs

California welfare recipients using state-issued debit cards withdrew more than $1.8 million in taxpayer cash on casino floors between October 2009 and last month.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order requiring welfare recipients to promise they will use cash benefits only to “meet the basic subsistence needs” of their families. The order also gave the state Department of Social Services seven days to produce a plan to reduce other types of “waste, fraud and abuse” in the welfare program.

The moves came after The Times reported Wednesday that officials at the department failed to notice for years that welfare recipients could use the state-issued cards to withdraw taxpayer cash at more than half of the tribal casinos and state-licensed poker rooms in California. The state initiated the debit card program in 2002.

Casino withdrawals, which represented far less than 1% of total welfare spending during the eight months for which the department released data, averaged just over $227,392 a month.

Schwarzenegger has already ordered the vendor that runs the state welfare system’s ATM network to prohibit the cards from working at casino machines…

No one noticed this was going on for eight years?

As foolish and unproductive is the practice of gambling away your welfare check, the failure of bureaucrats to keep an eye on spending is an example of how useless most “government jobs” become in the United States.

Evidence grows against federal judge – impeachment overdue!

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

It is not the lifestyle of a typical federal judge: five or six vodka cocktails at lunch; gambling with borrowed money; bankruptcy under a phony name; and cash, trips or home repairs from lawyers and a bail bondsman with business before his court…

Why should we believe this isn’t typical? 🙂

“The fact is that we are discovering a pattern of misbehavior that occurred over such a long period of time that it’s virtually unique in the annals of impeachment,” Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina, told the House panel. “Just imagine what happens if you don’t act here? What kind of precedent does that set?”

His lawyer, Richard Westling, acknowledges that the evidence does not look good…he says the House has disregarded significant facts and circumstances. Judge Porteous may have made mistakes, Mr. Westling said in an interview, but his transgressions do not warrant impeachment…

Mr. Westling has his work cut out for him.

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The secret world in the catacombs of Sin City

The state of Nevada has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the US.

But even though there are more than 14,000 homeless people in Las Vegas, it is easy to spend a weekend in Sin City and never see signs of a crisis.

Most tourists take in Vegas from the interior of a casino – slot machines, blackjack tables, cocktail waitresses in impossibly tiny outfits.
If you are willing to pay the price of admission, a lift can transport you to more excess upstairs – rooftop pools and lavish suites.

But what if there were a lift that descended below the sunken lounges, past kitchens and utility closets, through layers of concrete, into the ground beneath the casinos?

Here, you would see another, very different, version of the city: the storm drains.

Matt O’Brien, a Las Vegas writer, has been exploring this underworld for several years. In 2007, he published a book, Beneath the Neon, about exploring the 300 miles of tunnels that criss-cross beneath the strip.

The evening I meet him, he is wearing heavy boots, and carrying a backpack and industrial-sized flashlight that could double as a weapon.

“I’ve been exploring these storm drains for more than five years,” he says, sloshing through muck and gravel that blanket the tunnel floor.

RTFA. Interesting tales.

I imagine in many ways this would compare to life in the catacombs beneath Paris in the 19th Century. Same problems. Same people. Maybe not as romantic as the Hunchback of Notre Dame or Dumas’ Mohicans de Paris.