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Authorities: More Casino Losers Robbing Banks

15 July 2002

DETROIT, Michigan – As reported by the Detroit News: "Leslie C. Washington, a 27-year-old elementary school teacher from suburban Cleveland, is not a typical bank robber.

"After racking up large losses while gambling at Detroit casinos with a man she met there, the teacher declared bankruptcy.

"…Washington bought a $30 gun and masks like those from the movie "Scream." She went with her boyfriend and another man to the Key Bank on Telegraph Road in Brownstown Township last summer.

" The trio was nabbed by police with $11,151 from the bank after Washington, driving a Ford Explorer, led officers on a 15-mile chase that topped 110 mph.

"The young educator is among a growing number of criminals goaded into theft by casino-gambling losses, authorities say. At least five people in Michigan have robbed banks in the past year to settle casino gambling debts, the FBI reports. At the same time, overall bank robberies in Michigan dropped by 25 percent in the first half of 2002.

"Heavy gamblers who get in over their heads often borrow from credit cards, banks or directly from casinos, or they turn to loan sharks.

" …Most have no prior criminal records.

"…Desperation allegedly took them into bank teller lines in Southgate, Dearborn and elsewhere with demands for cash.

" …A seven-city research project by University of Nevada-Reno, which didn't include Detroit, found that each city had sharp increases in theft, domestic abuse and drug crimes after the opening of casinos. The cities also had an increase in personal bankruptcies and suicides.

" …In May, Richard Kozlow, 58, of Saginaw pleaded guilty to robbing 11 banks in 10 states, including one in Michigan, in a string of what federal authorities believe were crimes motivated by gambling. His first robbery was at a Citizens Bank in Saginaw, where he got away with $12,806.

" Kozlow, who has a degree in electrical engineering, was arrested Nov. 11 on a gambling boat in East Peoria, Ill., after employees asked for identification when he claimed a jackpot.

" …Across the nation, people have been arrested for casino-related robberies.

" In March, 48-year-old Rita Radcliffe of Portland, Maine, was sentenced to 15 months in jail after she pleaded guilty to robbing a bank of $1,872 to gamble at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

" Robert S. Kennedy, 24, is serving a life sentence after he robbed a Riverside, Calif., bank of $7,039 and then was caught in Las Vegas feeding the bills, which had been covered in red dye from an anti-theft device, into a slot machine.

" …Washington, who lived in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, met Ronald H. Long Jr., 24, at one of Detroit's casinos and they began dating. They then decided to rob the bank to pay for Washington's high gambling losses…"

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