Gambling addiction can be devastating and not just for the people who suffer directly from it, as with any addiction, people are ready to steal to fuel their problem behavior.
The Stolen Purse
The Pahrump Valley Times made public another case that seems to stem from problem gambling. A theft report came in on June 6, and Deputy Jason Heaney at Nye County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call, visiting the victim’s residency around 7 pm. The arrest report states that “According to the victim, she was getting a ride to her house from a male, identified as Chad Berkness.” However, after getting off the vehicle and leaning inside, trying to get her purse, “Chad very quickly drove away from the scene,” preventing the victim from getting back her purse. Apparently, Chad and the victim knew each other and Chad has repeatedly texted the victim, promising to return it.
As per the victim’s own explanation, she had “recently sold a side-by-side,” and is reported to have had $7,000 inside her purse, along with “two $20 bills” inside a wallet, tucked in the purse as well. Unfortunately, the report goes on, to state that “Chad did not return the purse that night,” however, Heaney did manage to contact Chad on the following day, at around 8:05 p.m. by which time, the purse was apparently returned to the victim.
Chad was reportedly gambling more than $500 at a machine in Lakeside Casino. As you can probably imagine, Chad was most likely gambling the money from the stolen purse, as the report continues, relaying a phone call Heaney had with the victim, stating that “the $7,000 that she had inside her purse was missing,” along with the two $20 bills from the wallet, which was also returned to the victim, along with the purse.
Berkness was arrested as a result of the investigation, charged with felony grand larceny for allegedly stealing the purse and the cash in it. As the PVT reports, it’s still unclear how much of the money was recovered, but Chad Berkness has been sent to the Nye County Detention Center, with a $6,000 bail.
Couples Swindled Out of Their Investment Funds
Keeping in line with gambling addiction and its sufferers’ actions, follows a story from the East Coast, at Middletown, Connecticut. A man was trialed at the Middletown Superior Court for embezzling money from the personal investment funds of multiple victims. The 44-year-old Travis Smith, born in Hamden, was sentenced on Tuesday to seven years in prison for embezzling north of $300,000 from couples in Durham and Milford, promising them he was going to invest the funds in their name, which makes it sound like theft by deception.
Travis Smith was sentenced to seven years in prison, although the jail times discussed by the two sides in court originally varied between three and twelve years. Judge Julia DiCocco Dewey from the Middletown Superior Court made the decision after hearing all the details about Smith’s criminal history.
In the case of the Milford couple, Smith has first worked to gain their trust by allocating some of the $350,000 given to him by them, to cover expenses like property taxes. However, in 2017, Smith has reportedly told them that the money can no longer be accessed, saying the managing company has gone bankrupt, only to later transfer $206,867 of the victim’s money to a company that is apparently controlled by him.
As for the Durham couple, the woman was cited by the CTPost saying “Travis stole from us over and over and over again, until our entire account was depleted,” while talking about the roughly $131,500 stolen by Smith.
Apparently, Smith was burning through the cash he’d swindled out of the victims by visiting different casinos, like the Mohegan Sun casino, and traveling to places like Myrtle Beach. Smith even went as far as saying he’d mismanaged the stolen money through “pure stupidity,” when questioned by police. Later on, he is reported to have tried making the money back at the casino. Smith has even gone and purchased abandoned storage units, in a desperate hope there might be valuable items inside them.
At any rate, stealing money to fuel addiction is classic addiction behavior, regardless of what the addiction is. Some might question how serving jail time will help overcome such a complex physio-psychological issue, but affected victims of the crimes committed usually have their side of the story as well. It’s important to note that any this can be life-changing for the people who suffer from their own addictive behaviors as well, so if you or someone you know is showing any signs of such problems, contact your local addiction help centers or call their hotlines to request advise.