Thenarse: I let down Husker fans

Lincoln Journal Star   January 27, 2016

Rickey Thenarse wanted to send a message to Husker football fans. He obviously felt it was important.

Which is why he sent me an e-mail this past weekend. He asked that I call him. He wanted to apologize to the fans.

“I just feel like I had a lot of fans, a lot of people expecting great things from me, a lot of people who have done things for me to get to where I was at,” said the former Husker defensive back (2006-10) from the Watts area of Los Angeles, in a phone conversation.

A Lincoln judge sent the 27-year-old Thenarse to prison Tuesday for a home break-in a year ago. His sentence is three to six years. Click here for the story.

I talked to Thenarse Monday. He felt a lot of embarrassment for what he had done.

“I can’t even show my face …” he said.

Read more at the Lincoln Journal Star…

Paxton: Daily fantasy sports betting like DraftKings is illegal gambling

AUSTIN – Daily fantasy sports betting in Texas is illegal, according to an opinion released by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday.

Paxton’s opinion argues that fantasy sport operations are wrong for claiming that they’re skill based. In his nonbinding opinion, Paxton said it is “beyond reasonable dispute that daily fantasy leagues involve an element of chance regarding how a selected player will perform on game day.”

He noted in his opinion that Texas’ law defines gambling as a game with ‘partial chance’ – a stricter definition than how some other states define the practice.

“Paid daily ‘fantasy sports’ operators claim they can legally operate as an unregulated house, but none of their arguments square with existing Texas law,” Paxton said in a statement. “Simply put, it is prohibited gambling in Texas if you bet on the performance of a participant in a sporting event and the house takes a cut.”

Daily fantasy sports websites allow players to buy into a game. Players create a team using real pro stars, whose statistics in actual games are then tallied. The fantasy players win or lose money based on how their team performs.

The industry has taken off in recent years, growing from 32 million players in 2010 to more than 56 million in 2015, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

In a statement, a spokesman for fantasy sports site DraftKings said they disagreed with Paxton’s opinion.

“The Texas Legislature has expressly authorized games of skill, and daily fantasy sports are a game of skill,” said Randy Mastro, legal counsel to DraftKings. “The Attorney General’s prediction is predicated on a fundamental misunderstanding of [daily fantasy sports]. We intend to continue to operate openly and transparently in Texas, so that the millions of Texans who are fantasy sports fans can continue to enjoy the contests they love.”

Read more at The Dallas Morning News…

Lincoln pharmacist gets prison time for Medicaid fraud

LJS  Jan. 14, 2016

A judge Wednesday sent a Lincoln pharmacist to prison for being behind Nebraska’s largest health care fraud to date, bilking the state’s Medicaid program of $14.4 million over six years.

Scott Tran, 45, who pleaded guilty to health care fraud, said there weren’t words to describe how sorry he is and how shameful.

“I still have to carry that shame and that guilt for the rest of my life for what I did to my family and to the society,” he said, before U.S. District Judge John Gerrard gave him nine years and two months in federal prison.

Tran asked for a chance to redeem himself and said he has taken steps to address his gambling addiction.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Everett acknowledged Tran’s gambling addiction provided him with the motive to steal.

“And we could debate at length and probably not resolve the question of whether he chose to gamble,” he said. “But I think what is beyond debate is he chose to steal.”

He said Tran, who owned Tran Pharmacy at 2655 S. 70th St., but lives in Omaha, devised a sophisticated scheme to get reimbursed for drugs doctors never prescribed. He tested it on a small scale, then, when it worked, he implemented it on a large scale and continued it for nearly six years.

“He chose to steal on 2,376 separate occasions during this period of time,” Everett said arguing for a 10-year sentence. “That’s more than once per day.”

By the end, Tran owned two houses free and clear, loaned a friend $300,000, owned several nice cars and a boat, he said. And he’d gambled away millions.

Defense attorney Clarence Mock said Tran suffered for years from an untreated gambling disorder that led him to do things he wouldn’t have done, but for the compulsion.

“This is not a situation where we have someone who is an inveterate criminal who otherwise has led a life of disrepute and disrespect for the law,” Mock said.

He said Tran was as remorseful an individual as he’s ever stood next to in federal or state court. Not only did he acknowledge his wrongdoing and concede the restitution amount, he also sat down with agents to explain how he carried out the fraud so that the Department of Health and Human Services might prevent it from happening again, Mock said.

“Nonetheless, an addiction like this, not unlike an alcohol or drug addiction that I see too often in my court, does not excuse your behavior, and it will not minimize your sentence,” he said.

Then the judge sentenced him to 110 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $14,450,059.17 in restitution.

Tran has agreed to forfeit his right to cash and property seized early in the investigation, which will go toward restitution.

U.S. Marshals took him out of the courtroom after Gerrard turned down a request to let him report to prison later.

Read full article at the Lincoln Journal Star

We “WON”! God has given us another miracle!

Dear Friends,

I am still reeling with joy and gratitude. After 4 long days at the Capitol we defeated that awful “Poker Bill”. LB 619 would have allowed “Poker Rooms” for anyone holding a liquor license and we currently have over 5700 in the state. Now I know not all of them would jump at the chance to have a “Room” or hold a tournament but any would have been too many and all would have managed to hurt families and businesses.

This bill was a hold over from last session and came up so soon this year that it was difficult to get in gear and fight it. Sen. Larson the sponsor had been working on lining up Senators for months and he was boasting that he had his 25+ votes to pass. Apparently God didn’t agree because when the 1st vote was taken yesterday on Larson’s amendment he could only garner 14 votes out of 49. That was a shock to all of us especially him. In spite of that terrible showing he persisted in taking up the whole day today filibustering his own bill and aggravating all the other Senators who are anxious to get on with business in this short session.

The final vote came at 3:30 PM today and we all breathed a sigh of relief as “Poker” was laid to rest.

We give God the glory and live to fight another day. The “Fantasy Sports Betting” bill, another Larson proposal, has already been submitted. This needs to go to committee and we will be there to testify. Considering the resentment that Larson generated by his antics on “Poker” I doubt if the body will be interested in supporting him on this.

There are still a few more days to enter bills so we will be watching and praying that no more come up.

For right now I think I will just collapse and sleep in tomorrow. We have the Senators lunch next Friday the 22nd and a press conference in February so never a dull moment.

Before I fall asleep at the computer I want to thank everyone for contacting the Senators, for coming down to keep me company during this ordeal, for sending words of encouragement and most of all for the prayers. Those have been the winds beneath our wings for the last 20 years.

Good Night & God Bless,  Pat

Pat Loontjer, Executive Director
Gambling With the Good Life

URGENT help needed, Poker Room Bill vote is Monday 1/11/16

Dear Supporter,

Looks like we are starting off with a “BANG” in the Legislature this year so we really need your help!

Sen. Larson’s poker bill, LB 619 is going to be voted on today, Monday, January 11th.

It would allow anyone with a liquor license to have a “Poker Room”. Currently there are 5723 active licenses in Nebraska. Now I know they won’t all want “Poker Rooms” but any, will be too many.  Please contact as many Senators as possible and ask them to vote NO or Not Voting on LB 619.