Jerry Nann Meador sits in the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center without access to treatment she needs for a betting dependency that landed her in jail.
In January 2014, her lawyer pleaded with District Judge Jessie Walsh to provide Meador a chance at probation, pointing to a letter she wrote prior to being locked up.
“Dear Gambling, I have actually never ever dedicated myself to anyone or anything like I did to you,” the letter began. “Absolutely nothing has ever managed me like you did … I do not know if I will ever fully recuperate from the damages you and I have actually triggered together however I am going to attempt and be as committed to that as I can.”
The 52-year-old grandmother’s case isn’t unusual in Nevada, where an estimated 6 percent of the population are issue gamblers. What stand out are the quantity of money she took to feed her addiction and the lack of treatment alternatives for her in the state’s criminal justice system.
Prosecutors suggested that Meador took $542,000 from a plumbing company where she worked for almost 25 years as a workplace supervisor and bookkeeper. Meador probably took as much as $900,000, but the theft returned up until now that the statute of constraints expired for some of the years. She invested the cash on video poker and slot machines however likewise made credit card, cellular phone and satellite tv payments, prosecutors said.
Prior to being captured, Meador went through $1.5 million or more annually in betting devices, her legal representatives stated.
In sending her to prison for 4 to One Decade, the judge focused on Meador’s betrayal.
“It’s really tough for the court to comprehend how you might come to work every day for a period of four years, look the people in the eyes that you work with, including your boss and colleagues, and steal them blind,” Walsh said at Meador’s sentencing.
Now the very same judge needs to know whether Meador should have been provided a possibility to avoid prison, instead being allowed access to a program for problem bettors. Walsh recently bought briefs from defense attorney and prosecutors in Meador’s case, and is expected to rule in November if she deserves a hearing to figure out if she qualifies for a little-used program developed to divert issue bettors to treatment.
Trouble is, Clark County, which provides diversion to treatment-oriented unique courts for drug abuser, repeat DUI culprits and struggling war veterans, has never established a specialized court for problem gamblers. In the 6 years given that Nevada legislators licensed treatment instead of jail for nonviolent issue gamblers, diversion has actually been allowed in just two cases.
No unique court
Specialized court programs, executed in Nevada in 1992, are focuseded on individuals who face a range of criminal charges that might have stemmed from dependency. Instead of being sentenced or put on probation with just an officer to monitor them, a judge orders extensive counseling and retains oversight. It’s thought about more economical than incarceration and a proactive way to reduce repeat offenses.
Chief District Judge David Barker said there have to do with 300 individuals enrolled in drug court alone, and that number is anticipated to double by year’s end.
Barker stated cases that might get problem betting diversion would equate to about 10 percent of the drug court’s caseload, makings it possible for individual judges to supervise those cases without a special court structure. No specialty court is needed unless the caseload enhances, he said.
However legislators made the capability to pay restitution to victims a requirement for problem gambler diversion. Due to the fact that of the nature of the addiction, the accuseds are frequently broke when they reach court– few can fulfill the payment credentials.
In Meador’s case, defense attorney Dayvid Figler has actually argued that sending to prison issue bettors is “unsuitable,” and he has asked that she be released for treatment. Prosecutors counter that she needs to stay locked up due to the fact that she has no way to pay back the cash she took, as required by state law.
In court last week, Figler asked Meador: “Do you have a desire to help yourself with your gaming problems and gambling addiction?”
“Absolutely,” she said through splits.
Figler called treatment for issue gamblers “needed” in a neighborhood where wagers are offered not just on the Strip but in strip malls and at filling station and supermarket.
Diversion is unusual
Douglas Crawford, a legal representative who assisted write the problem betting diversion law, later benefited personally from it: Until last month, he was the only person in Clark County understood to have actually been provided a diversion from prison as an issue gambler.
Crawford was appointed to the governor’s committee on problem gaming after the State Bar of Nevada suspended him from exercising law for gambling away more than $300,000 of his clients’ cash.
In 2012, a judge enabled Crawford to participate in the three-year diversion program. If Crawford successfully finishes treatment and pays back $304,831 he stole, the felony case will certainly be dismissed and his record sealed.
Crawford’s law license was reinstated last month, and he has actually because paid about $85,000 in restitution. He prepares for paying off the rest within 2 years.
Crawford, who also was addicted to alcohol and drugs, stated he gambled away $2.5 countless his own cash before he dipped into his customers’ funds.
In a series of YouTube videos published in October, Crawford spoke about his addiction and of slipping into gambling establishments late in the evening so nobody would acknowledge him.
“Gaming took more far from me quicker than any of my other addictions,” he stated. “The betting addiction was so powerful and so frustrating that it took away everything I have in my life. My betting addiction turned me into a zombie.”
However with treatment, the court ruled, Crawford might make adequate cash to pay restitution.
Understanding doing not have
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson stated many defense lawyers might not even know that gambling diversion exists. He stated his workplace has only gotten a “handful” of demands for it.
“We’re going to take these cases on a case-by-case basis,” he stated. “And we’re going to determine if the person is suitable for consideration. Restitution is usually a huge part of the equation. We have to be delicate to the payment of restitution when we review all of this.”
Carol O’Hare, executive director of the Nevada Council on Problem Betting, helped write the law. Lots of defense lawyer are not trained to recognize gambling addiction, she said, and problem gamblers might unknown the law is in location.
“I do not believe the absence of cases has anything to do with the absence of requirement,” she stated. “There’s been a knowing curve for the lawyers and the judges to understand this is available now.”
But they are discovering.
Last month, legal representatives for 39-year-old Daniel Ortega showed a judge thousands of dollars in gambling receipts from 2010 to 2014 and said that he had actually registered in Gamblers Anonymous.
In a desperate attempt to feed his dependency, Ortega had walked into South Point and attempted to use a phony credit card to obtain a $2,000 cash advance. The cashier immediately saw the phony card, and Ortega was hit with felony charges. The case was a “wake-up call” for Ortega, defense attorney Kristina Wildeveld composed.
Ortega pleaded guilty to a felony and might have been sent to prison. However at Ortega’s sentencing, District Judge Eric Johnson, a former long time federal district attorney just recently designated to the bench, acknowledged that he was strolling a tightrope in allowing for the diversion so seldom provided.
And since Ortega’s fraud never ever led to a financial loss to his victim, restitution had not been a concern.
“I’m prepared to take the leap if this is what Mr. Ortega wishes to do,” Johnson stated. “Mr. Ortega, essentially, you’re going to be done gambling. You comprehend that? This is going to be up to you, if you don’t finish this effectively, we get back to sentencing, and I’m not going to be specifically considerate at that point.”
“I’m already done gambling,” Ortega replied.
“All right,” the judge said, “Mr. Ortega this is all in your hands. Good luck.”
Contact press reporter David Ferrara at [email protected]!.?.! or 702-380-1039. Discover him on Twitter: @randompoker.