CROWN POINT — A professional poker player will serve time in a work-release program, three years on probation and pay more than $14,000 in restitution for swindling several women out of money and property through "sweetheart scams."
Lenard A. Adams, 34, offered a tearful but rambling apology, telling the judge he lost his younger brother in a homicide while he was on house arrest and was horrified when his young son put an Apple watch on his ankle to be like him.
Adams wore a GPS ankle monitor while his case was pending.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell said she was shocked when Adams told her in court months ago that he earned his living playing poker.
Bowell said Tuesday she remained unconvinced that Adams had changed his ways.
Despite her doubts, Boswell sentenced Adams in accordance with his plea agreement. The agreement called for four consecutive 18-month sentences on theft charges, with three years in the Lake County Community Corrections work-release program and three years on probation.
Boswell gave Adams credit for 483 days in custody, ordered him to write apology letters and pay $14,127 in restitution to three of his four victims.
Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Judith Massa said Adams gained his victims' trust and persuaded them to buy items by claiming to be a doctor working on behalf of a children's charity. He kept the items for himself and left the women "high and dry," she said.
"It's despicable," Massa said.
Several of Adams' victims remain traumatized because of him, Massa said. The state considered the effect that testifying at trial might have on them when offering the plea agreement, she said.
Boswell asked if Adams was seeking treatment for a gambling addiction.
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Defense attorney Linda Kollintzas said Adams didn't have a gambling addiction, despite being a ranked poker player, and did not use the money he swindled from the woman to fund his career.
Adams said he was motivated by greed.
"It was completely wrong," he said. "At the end of the day, it was me being a bad person."
Adams said he didn't think it was robbery, because he wasn't "sticking a gun to them."
He talked about his son wearing a watch on his ankle and tearfully told the judge he didn't violate pretrial release last summer, despite a desire to help his family as they searched in the sweltering heat for his younger brother.
Antonio Adams, 23, of Gary, was fatally shot twice in the head and his 21-year-old girlfriend was wounded July 14, 2018, in the 700 block of Georgia Street in Gary. His badly decomposed body was found days later.
Lenard Adams said his brother might not have been killed if he had been able to spend more time with him.
"I'm not going to take advantage of any more women," he said. "Because crime don't pay."