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Criminal Charges, Volume XXVII: Bad business

Jeremy Simon

The stories I round up for the weekly installments of Criminal Charges usually involve no-name scammers and thieves. But with Michael Phelps’s recent admission that photos in a British tabloid did in fact show him smoking marijuana, the Visa-sponsored Olympic medalist becomes the biggest personality to reach the intersection of credit cards and crime in this column’s more-than-six-month run.

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Luckily for Phelps, credit card processor Visa says it supports the multiple gold medal swimmer, meaning he won’t lose his sponsorship.

While that may be a good business decision for Visa, the following criminals were most certainly doing some bad business.

Possible jail time for dirty “Boots” Del Biaggio
San Francisco venture capitalist and former co-owner of the San Jose Sharks William “Boots” Del Biaggio III could be headed to federal prison after pleading guilty on Feb. 4 to securities fraud.

Citing a criminal complaint, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that “Del Biaggio defrauded investors and lenders, using the proceeds to “finance a luxurious lifestyle” and as a “personal checkbook to pay home mortgage and decorating expenses, gambling debts, credit card bills and other personal and unrelated business expenses.”

Boots could end up kicking it behind bars. “Del Biaggio will be sentenced June 10 and faces a maximum of 25 years in prison, though his plea agreement called for him to be imprisoned for six and a half to eight years,” the New York Times reports.

Canadian police uncover credit card factory, crossbows
You know you aren’t running a normal business operation when you have to keep a crossbow on hand.

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Photo courtesy of Royal Canadian Mounted Police

On Feb. 3, Royal Canadian Mounted Police discovered what they describe as a midlevel home credit card factory in Langley, British Columbia. At that residence, “police found two credit card embossers, 15 computers, printers and scanners, a milk crate full of stolen and forged credit cards, loaded firearms and crossbows and a number of counterfeit C$100 bills,” the Vancouver Sun reports.

That led to charges of possession of stolen property, unauthorized possession of credit card data, possession of firearms and credit card forgery instruments, among other charges, for Kelly Dumas, Robin Krayem and August Elizabeth Olafson.

Meter money ends up in hands of parking authority director
Somewhere between the meters and county coffers, New Castle, Pa., parking payments found their way into the pockets of Gary Stone, Jr.

Stone was charged on Feb. 5 with theft for allegedly failing to deposit the parking funds, as well as for using a city credit card to pay personal expenses, according to District Attorney John Bongivengo.

Apparently, those quarters really add up. “Bongivengo said Stone is accused of taking $108,156 in parking meter money during 2006 and 2007. There is a balance of $6,390 on the credit card,” Vindy.com reports.

There appears to be a major discrepancy from the years Stone was in charge and when police began to run things: Bongivengo says Stone deposited just $71 in 2006 and $217 in 2007, compared with the $54,390 collected by city police when they took over the parking department in 2008.

Tax preparer rips off refunds
A Westchester County, N.Y., certified public accountant apparently decided he could make better use of the tax refund dollars that were due to three of his clients.

Randal Kase allegedly forged his clients’ names on IRS tax refund checks he had sent to himself. Kase then deposited the checks into his own bank accounts or used the money to pay his personal credit card bills, according to police records. According to the Mid-Hudson News Network, Kase “reportedly told one client that the person had broken even and wouldn’t be receiving a significant tax refund.” Overall, the CPA stands accused of stealing over $223,000 in refunds.

For a CPA, Kase seemingly didn’t show much attention to detail. According to a complaint, “Kase often misspelled the forged names,” reports the Associated Press.

That’s one CPA I won’t be using for help with my taxes this year.

See related: Visa making most of Michael Phelps’ pursuit of Olympic history, Michael Phelps’ golden Olympics means big win for Visa

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  • Any chance Phelps used a credit card to buy his “I did inhale” experience? I wonder what the rewards were for that card!