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Former gambling kingpin Venezia found dead

By AP/KWMU

Belleville, Ill. – The former head of an illegal gambling ring in southern Illinois was found dead Tuesday in an apparent murder-suicide.

Belleville police say it appears Thomas Venezia, 61, killed Jennifer Anderson, 21, and then himself.

Anderson had until recently been a stripper in Sauget. Her father says she recently said she was "leaving the scummy guys behind."

Venezia and Anderson shared a home. A friend found the bodies Tuesday, but they had been dead for perhaps days.

Venezia was convicted in 1995 of gambling and racketeering charges. He was released from prison in 2002. Prosecutors said during his trial that he oversaw a gambling network that centered on video poker and slot machines at dozens of taverns in southern Illinois.

He also later testified against his lawyer and business partner, Amiel Cueto. Cueto also served time, six years, for interfering with the federal investigation into Venezia's activities.

The grandmother of the 21-year-old Anderson describes her granddaughter as loving, caring and kind. Karen Range adds that Jennifer Anderson was "just a beautiful girl."

Anderson's father says he saw her last week and she told him he should be proud of her because she was standing on her own two feet.

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