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Pokie Fraud

51 posts in this topic

Michael Joseph O'Brien, Paul Anthony Max and Kevin Coffey guilty of multi-million dollar pokie fraud

Are these people connected with racing in any way?
 
 
SCCZEN_A_HBT080416-02_master.jpg
Three men have been found guilty of a multi-million dollar pokie machine fraud. Photo / file
NZ Herald
 
 

Three men have been found guilty of a multi-million dollar pokie machine fraud.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said in a statement that the men were found to have manipulated gambling licenses and grants.

The fraud was detected in a joint investigation, "Operation Chestnut" involving the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand and the SFO.

Michael Joseph O'Brien, 58, of Blenheim, Paul Anthony Max, 60, of Nelson and Kevin Coffey, 57, of Hastings, all faced charges of obtaining by deception.

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In High Court at Wellington today, O'Brien was found guilty of five charges, Max guilty of three charges and Coffey guilty of one charge and not guilty of one other.

SFO director Julie Read said funding from pokie machines provided millions of dollars of community funding for sport, health, education and other activities every year.

"Operation Chestnut has been effective in enabling the DIA to pinpoint areas where compliance can be lifted in the sector so that pokie machine benefits can continue without the risk of manipulation or potential criminal activity," she said.

The investigation was a significant case in New Zealand for the "Class 4" gambling sector, which is made up of high-turnover gambling including gaming machines in pubs and clubs.

The three men were remanded in custody and are due to be sentenced on July 13

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7 minutes ago, Newmarket said:

Michael Joseph O'Brien, Paul Anthony Max and Kevin Coffey guilty of multi-million dollar pokie fraud

Are these people connected with racing in any way?
 
 
SCCZEN_A_HBT080416-02_master.jpg
Three men have been found guilty of a multi-million dollar pokie machine fraud. Photo / file
NZ Herald
 
 

Three men have been found guilty of a multi-million dollar pokie machine fraud.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said in a statement that the men were found to have manipulated gambling licenses and grants.

The fraud was detected in a joint investigation, "Operation Chestnut" involving the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand and the SFO.

Michael Joseph O'Brien, 58, of Blenheim, Paul Anthony Max, 60, of Nelson and Kevin Coffey, 57, of Hastings, all faced charges of obtaining by deception.

 

O'Brien is a harness trainer.

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I think O

Just now, Thejanitor said:

O'Brien is a harness trainer.

I think also an administrator.

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O'Brien set up Bluegrass Holdings to operate 144 Pokie machines and direct where the money went.

His father was a previous Chairman of HRNZ and is also in this....will face charges on July 31.

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51 minutes ago, Ohokaman said:

O'Brien set up Bluegrass Holdings to operate 144 Pokie machines and direct where the money went.

His father was a previous Chairman of HRNZ and is also in this....will face charges on July 31.

I thought the charges against his father were dropped due to his ill health?

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29 minutes ago, tonkatime said:

I thought the charges against his father were dropped due to his ill health?

One would hope not given the other 3 guilty parties are currently in Custody. Very dodgy stuff all round IMHO

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13 minutes ago, Newmarket said:

One would hope not given the other 3 guilty parties are currently in Custody. Very dodgy stuff all round IMHO

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/93701979/guilty-verdicts-against-blenheim-racing-man-mike-obrien-for-pokie-machine-fraud 

When the trial began, 15 charges were laid but 10 were dropped. The trial had also begun with O'Brien's father, former New Zealand Harness Racing chairman Patrick O'Brien, 83, of Blenheim, facing charges. The charges against him were stopped due to his ill health.

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1 minute ago, enteebee said:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/93701979/guilty-verdicts-against-blenheim-racing-man-mike-obrien-for-pokie-machine-fraud 

When the trial began, 15 charges were laid but 10 were dropped. The trial had also begun with O'Brien's father, former New Zealand Harness Racing chairman Patrick O'Brien, 83, of Blenheim, facing charges. The charges against him were stopped due to his ill health.

He is a lucky man is all i will say given the outcome of this long running investigation and subsequent court proceedings

enteebee likes this

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stopped - not dropped - interesting words - guessing if he recovered then case could still be proceeded with

the award was for services during the time these offences were happening - many involved with HRNZ at that time will have known

Pat O'Brien.JPG

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Just now, enteebee said:

stopped - not dropped - interesting words - guessing if he recovered then case could still be proceeded with

 

Good point. But they have been successfully  using poor health for quite a while now so hard to change tack this far down the track.

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7 hours ago, tonkatime said:

I thought the charges against his father were dropped due to his ill health?

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/93701979/guilty-verdicts-against-blenheim-racing-man-mike-obrien-for-pokie-machine-fraud

Not according to Stuff. The report states: "Pat O'Brien, 83, was also charged, but removed from the trial due to his ill-health."

Jail likely for the other three but O'Brien sen likely to be convicted but not jailed due to age and ill health I presume.

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1 hour ago, Thejanitor said:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/93701979/guilty-verdicts-against-blenheim-racing-man-mike-obrien-for-pokie-machine-fraud

Not according to Stuff. The report states: "Pat O'Brien, 83, was also charged, but removed from the trial due to his ill-health."

Jail likely for the other three but O'Brien sen likely to be convicted but not jailed due to age and ill health I presume.

It states in the article that the charges against him were stopped rather than dropped. 

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There will be alot of club committee,s guilty as these guys but are willing to let them take the rap,millions of dollars have been written off in pokie trusts,lost to the industry

Thejanitor likes this

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I had a horse hated race tracks. Mr O'Brien was nice enough to let  the horse stay there til picked up by horse transporter. Very accommodating and excellent person. 

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7 minutes ago, claude55 said:

I had a horse hated race tracks. Mr O'Brien was nice enough to let  the horse stay there til picked up by horse transporter. Very accommodating and excellent person. 

You should have been the Number One evidential person - the Judge may have seen things differently and given him the result you want 

The guys a thieving fucken crook - justice prevails

hsvman, napier, Thejanitor and 1 other like this

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10 minutes ago, turny said:

You should have been the Number One evidential person - the Judge may have seen things differently and given him the result you want 

The guys a thieving fucken crook - justice prevails

Agree, the three of them deserve a long stretch in the slammer.

Newmarket likes this

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Firstly let me say that I've never met any of the people involved in this case.

From what I understand, every club in the country was aware that the Bluegrass Trust was set up from day one with the prime, but unstated objective, of generating income for harness racing clubs. Over the years of it's existence many many millions of dollars was pumped into stakemoney. Money that the majority of owners, trainers, and drivers will have benefited from at some stage.

Nobody was complaining while the cash was flowing into the industry.

Other than pull the wool over the eyes of a few dim witted Internal Affairs officials, and deduct a generous commission from the proceeds for himself, what has Mike O'Brien actually done wrong here?

It seems to me to be a double standard for the industry to now be distancing tiself from the O'Briens and calling them crooks, when only a short while ago everybody was only to happy to pocket the millions of dollars they pumped into the game.

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7 hours ago, JackSprat said:

Firstly let me say that I've never met any of the people involved in this case.

From what I understand, every club in the country was aware that the Bluegrass Trust was set up from day one with the prime, but unstated objective, of generating income for harness racing clubs. Over the years of it's existence many many millions of dollars was pumped into stakemoney. Money that the majority of owners, trainers, and drivers will have benefited from at some stage.

Nobody was complaining while the cash was flowing into the industry.

Other than pull the wool over the eyes of a few dim witted Internal Affairs officials, and deduct a generous commission from the proceeds for himself, what has Mike O'Brien actually done wrong here?

It seems to me to be a double standard for the industry to now be distancing tiself from the O'Briens and calling them crooks, when only a short while ago everybody was only to happy to pocket the millions of dollars they pumped into the game.

You have got to be taking the piss Jack. Convicted of 5 fraud charges by a high court judge and about to do time and you ask the highlighted question above.

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The biggest problem from the Mike  O'Brien saga is the number of clubs caught up in back handers and wanton greed. Whilst there is no doubt that huge money came back to clubs and went into stakes all clubs knew what they were doing was corrupt and wrong.It is very clear a number of trotting clubs in bottom of North Island are clearly involved. Clearly the administrators of these clubs have been duped into this rort, how much in the way of funds ended up back into Mike O'Brien and co's back pockets and how much into club managements phone accounts will never be known but NZRB, NZTR,RIU and HRNZ know who is clearly in this and they need to clear the air. They need to get rid of the crooks in the industry no matter how high individuals are flying.It's truly ironic that one of the clubs involved is chaired by a member of the police who needs to explain how he can give gun licenses to people on one hand and then let his CEO play a full role as one of Mike's mate ripping off pokie funds

Thejanitor likes this

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8 hours ago, JackSprat said:

Firstly let me say that I've never met any of the people involved in this case.

From what I understand, every club in the country was aware that the Bluegrass Trust was set up from day one with the prime, but unstated objective, of generating income for harness racing clubs. Over the years of it's existence many many millions of dollars was pumped into stakemoney. Money that the majority of owners, trainers, and drivers will have benefited from at some stage.

Nobody was complaining while the cash was flowing into the industry.

Other than pull the wool over the eyes of a few dim witted Internal Affairs officials, and deduct a generous commission from the proceeds for himself, what has Mike O'Brien actually done wrong here?

It seems to me to be a double standard for the industry to now be distancing tiself from the O'Briens and calling them crooks, when only a short while ago everybody was only to happy to pocket the millions of dollars they pumped into the game.

LOL.

Clearly you have not read the Stuff report. O'Brien hardly just pulled the wool over the eyes of a "few dim witted Internal Affairs officials" as you state. O'Brien and the fellow accused committed fraud on a massive scale. This whole exercise was a massive fraud to line their own pockets. False declarations were made to Internal Affairs which hid O'Brien's leading role in this matter. This was done because Internal Affairs regarded O'Brien as, "it considered him unsuitable to be involved." Why was that I wonder? O'Brien was unlicensed and unable to play a "key" role in the organisation. Further, the charges related to dates between 2009 and 2013 when Bluegrass made grants to various organisation, including racing clubs, of $11.8m. If you read further you will see that O'Brien received $11.57m for lobbying in this period. If you compare the two figures it is clear that clubs return was paltry in comparison to O'Briens. 

turny and Newmarket like this

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As I understand the arrangement, the lobbying fees were in the vicinity of 25% of the funds received by the clubs. No doubt the news services would alter these figures to suit themselves and sensationalise the story to their advantage.

I'm still trying to find the victims here. Correct me if I'm wrong, but ...

  • The punters got their pokies
  • The clubs got their funds
  • The owners, trainers, drivers and breeders got their income
  • The government got their taxes
  • The community organisations got their grants
  • The O'Briens got rewarded for putting it all together

Seems like a good business deal to me.

Like I said earlier, other than pulling the wool over the eyes of a few dim witted Internal Affairs officials, and making them look stupid by circumventing some of their rules, what have they done wrong?

It looks to me as though everybody involved was a winner!

tasman man 11 likes this

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53 minutes ago, JackSprat said:

It looks to me as though everybody involved was a winner!

So its only a rort for those not in on it ?

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49 minutes ago, Kotare_Hunter said:

So its only a rort for those not in on it ?

All business deals are done for the benefit of the participants. Who we're the losers in this case? That's right. Nobody was!

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