Flint man to repay nearly $37,000 embezzled from charitable gaming funds

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FLINT (WJRT) (2/28/2018) - A 79-year-old Flint man has pleaded guilty to skimming nearly $37,000 from charitable gaming proceeds raised by St. Pius X Catholic Church and School.

David Lee Thiese Sr. has agreed to repay the stolen money as part of a plea agreement. He also will face up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced April 16 in Genesee County Circuit Court.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board and Michigan Attorney General’s office investigation began investigating Thiese as part of a three-year probe into three poker rooms the state shut down in 2014. He was charged with embezzlement of $20,000 to $50,000.

Thiese is the 15th person associated with Gloria’s Poker Palace, Lucky’s Poker Room and Pocket Aces to plead guilty to charitable gaming crimes since 2014.

“We want to make sure charities receive the full measure of profits from charitable poker events they host,” said Richard Kalm, executive director of the gaming control board. “In this case, proper oversight and accounting practices weren’t followed, but MGCB investigators audited the event results, uncovered the fraud and worked closely with the Attorney General’s office to restore the missing funds to the charity.”

Thiese Sr. deposited St. Pius X Church’s net profits from charitable gaming into an account he controlled. The charities earned nearly $60,000 in combined net profit from charitable gaming events, but he shared only $22,900 in proceeds with the church.

Thiese Sr. was listed as the event chairperson for 28 charitable poker events held in the Flint area between 2012 and 2014. The events were licensed as benefits for the church, its school and other church-affiliated organizations.

Michigan law requires the entire net proceeds of a charitable gaming event be devoted exclusively to the charity’s purposes.

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