Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Despite this incident, I am here to tell you that the Austin Poker Underground is alive and well. In fact, there is a proliferation of games available to play in, if you know who to ask. I am amazed that they all are able to operate. Many whom we thought would have gone away are still in operation, although they may have moved for obvious reasons. Even still, I saw alot of familiar faces and sprinkled with new faces to that seemingly seedy world. Ah, the stories I heard, the action I have missed. Gotta love Austin Poker, it is a society unto itself.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Police raid suspected gambling business
No arrests yet
November 26, 2008 - 9:02 AM
Beth L. Jokinen
Published Nov. 27, 2008
LIMA - Recent complaints about gambling activity led the Lima Police Department to shut down a business Tuesday afternoon.
Police, along with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification, executed a search warrant at Northland Palms, 1570 N. Main St. at 5:15 p.m. No one was arrested, but police removed gambling equipment from the building and charges could be coming.
"We received some complaints about gambling going on up there, so we just followed up with it," Lima Police Department Lt. James Baker said, adding that the officials studied the establishment for a couple of months.
The establishment, which sits among a small strip of buildings, appears to have been open for the sole purpose of gambling, Baker said. It opened a short while before the investigation began.
Police removed gaming tables, poker chips, video equipment, video gaming devices, cash and business records from the establishment. The main focus of the investigation was cards, Baker said.
Multiple people are suspected of operating the business, Baker said. They were present when police officers arrived Tuesday.
"They were detained and questioned, but not arrested," he said.
The case will be presented to the Allen County Prosecutor's Office for consideration of charges. Baker suspects the case will not go to an Allen County grand jury until January.
There were a number of patrons in the building when police arrived. Baker would not comment on whether alcohol was being served, saying it is part of the investigation.
Baker said this sort of operation is not uncommon.
"Other communities have had this same type of problem," he said, citing raids performed in the past by the Allen County Sheriff's Office.
Two years ago, sheriff's deputies raided four locations, confiscating 26 illegal gambling machines.
Poker game ends with man shot, not seriously injured
By Lise FisherStaff Writer
Published: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 3:51 p.m. Last Modified: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 3:51 p.m.
It wasn’t a dead man’s hand, but another man’s poker hand was enough to land a Williston resident in jail for attempted murder Wednesday.
Williston Police arrested Ralph Rackard, 49, for firing a shotgun at another man after a dispute over a five-card poker game. The disagreement occurred Tuesday after Decurtis Lee, 33, of Williston, ended up with the winning hand, police say.
The two had been gambling at a residence in east Williston minutes before Rackard fired at Lee, police reported.
Lee had been walking to his sister’s home in the 300 block of SE 10th Street at about 11:15 p.m. when the shooting occurred.
The victim wasn’t seriously injured. Police said Rackard used a low-powered shot shell that didn’t penetrate Lee’s clothing.
The dead man’s hand comes from the legend of the poker hand held by Wild Bill Hickock when he was killed in 1876 and is two pairs of aces and eights.
Chief Dan Davis said the poker hands in this game were Rackard’s pair of fours and Lee’s pair of fives.
Rackard was booked into the Levy County jail Wednesday morning.
The case isn’t the first poker-related shooting in the area. Earlier this year, Putnam County deputies investigated two shootings. On Feb. 16, the bodies of three men were found at a building that had been the site of a private, all-night poker game. The shooter believed he had been cheated, according to investigators.
Duane Demaris Crittenden, 28, of Palatka, later entered a guilty plea to three counts of first-degree murder and was ordered to serve three consecutive life sentences in prison.
On April 17, another poker game at a Palatka home was interrupted by a gunman who fired shots, hitting one of the players in the hip.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
By Ann Marie Bush
The Capital-Journal Published Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 4:31 p.m. CDT
The owner of Deep Pockets was arrested on four charges of commercial gambling Monday, said Topeka police Capt. Jerry Stanley.
Frank Thomas Antonelli, owner of Deep Pockets, 4310 SW 21st, was arrested on four charges of commercial gambling Monday.
Frank Thomas Antonelli, 60, of Topeka, was booked into the Shawnee County jail at 9:10 p.m. Monday, according to jail records.
“It was an extensive investigation,” Stanley said, but wouldn’t say how long it lasted.
Officers seized many items of evidence, including several poker-related items, Stanley said.
District Attorney Robert Hecht said in a news release that items seized include cards, poker chips, poker tables, black jack tables, cash, computers and firearms.
“The district attorney’s office is presently preparing civil cases to seek to cause the removal of Deep Pockets Inc. and its owners Frank Thomas Antonelli and Christine Ann Antonelli from engaging in business at that location, determining that a criminal public nuisance has been created and to seek an injunction and padlock the premises,” the statement said.
The DA’s office also hopes to be able to tell the neighborhood around Deep Pockets that they will “no longer be subjected to the continuing criminal activity that has occurred at Deep Pockets in the nature of homicides, shootings and other kinds of violence that seem to have their genesis in premises where other illegal activities are ongoing.”
The statement also said that Antonelli was arrested on a complaint by the DA’s office charging him with three counts of commercial gambling, a nonperson felony, and one county of misdemeanor gambling.
“The district attorney anticipates adding felony criminal charges to the complaint,” the release states.
The Topeka police narcotics and vice unit served the search warrant and arrest warrant at Deep Pockets on Monday.
Officers with the Topeka police response team, Shawnee Sheriff’s Department, Alcohol Beverage Control, DEA Task Force and Counter Drug Surveillance Operations Group assisted.
Commercial gambling is described in state law as operating or receiving all or part of the earnings of a gambling place; recording or forwarding bets or offers to bet or, with intent to receive, record or forward bets or offers to bet, possessing facilities to do so; for gain, becoming a custodian of anything of value bet or offered to be bet; conducting a lottery, or with intent to conduct a lottery possessing facilities to do so; or setting up for use or collecting the proceeds of any gambling device.
Friday, September 05, 2008
38-year-old man was wounded in the hand when two suspects robbed two other men at gunpoint at a pool hall on Wise Street around 11:10 p.m. Wednesday, Alexandria police report. No arrests have been reported.
According to an Alexandria police report, an officer was searching the area of South Yale and Houston for three suspects from a vehicle pursuit Wednesday when he was notified a robbery had just occurred at 2401 Wise St.
Police believed the suspects from the chase were possibly the suspects involved in the robbery, the report states.
Police said the victims said they were inside Lee's Pool Hall at 2401 Wise St. playing poker when they heard a gunshot outside the club. All of a sudden, two unknown men came in wearing masks over their heads and told the victims to get on the floor and then fired another shot.
The suspects told the victims to empty their pockets and put the money on the table, the report states. Another shot was fired as the suspects left out, which struck a 38-year-old victim in the hand.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Video Link http://www.wciv.com/news/stories/0808/546821_video.html?ref=newsstory
A Mount Pleasant judge refuses to throw out a case involving an alleged illegal poker game. The hearing comes more than two years after the incident. The five poker players who've been protesting this case say the law they allegedly violated is unconstitutional and it's wording, vague.
It's on TV, it's online, but playing in your own home when betting is involved, not allowed. That, at least is the opinion of Mount Pleasant Judge Lawrence Duffy. The problem, says Defense Attorney Jeff Phillips, "they focused in on the betting, even though the statute does not focus on the betting."
Phillips, a poker player himself, argued with Judge Duffy saying the statute only prohibits playing games with cards or dice in very specific locations.
"The statute clearly says you cannot play any cards or dice in a house of gaming? How do we know what a house of gaming is? This was not a public place, this was a residence that was not, even if it was used to bet in, was not a house of gaming. It was a house to live in," said Phillips.
Bob Chimento was one of 22 players police say gathered at this Mount Pleasant home for a Texas Hold em match. The game was advertised online with a $20 buy-in.
"They were talking about a high stakes poker game in there. That is absolutely the most ridiculous statement I've heard in my life," said Phillips.
Judge Duffy found the law clear enough, stating that the Supreme Court had cited the statute nine times prior. Phillips calls the comparison misleading. This fight, he says, a first to target the law's unconstitutionality.
From here the defendants plan to go trial or they may consider pleading, so an appeal process may then begin. Earlier this year, another major poker bust, where 19 players were arrested in Hanahan after a raid.
Video link is at the Live5News site.
By Tracey Amick, Live 5 News
CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - More than two years after a Mt. Pleasant poker game is busted by police, a motion to dismiss the case has been denied.
Most of the players have pleaded guilty since then and paid a fine, but five players are holding out. Friday their attorney said there are three reasons this case should be thrown out altogether.
First, Jeff Phillips says it's unconstitutional because the statute on this law is too vague for the average citizen to understand.
Second, he says if the law is to be taken literally, that means no games or cards can ever be played, and there's no way to enforce a ban so broad.
And finally, Phillips says the law specifically mentions a house of gaming, which he says wasn't there when the card game took place.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Looks like Tennessee is CRACKING DOWN on poker!
Printed story below:
Alleged gambling house raided, shut downThursday, August 14, 2008By Brian Mosely
Detective Brian Crews of the Shelbyville Police Department examines a case of poker chips that were seized from the office of an alleged gaming house raided by authorities Tuesday night. The words on the doors at 101 Tillett Circle say "PRIVATE" and "DO NOT ENTER," but those warnings were ignored by local law enforcement Tuesday night when they raided an alleged gambling house.
Following a four-month investigation, Shelbyville police, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, along with an area FBI agent, executed a search warrant on the building where high-dollar poker games allegedly took place once a week.
"People were bragging that this was like 'little Tunica,'" said Det. Brian Crews of the Shelbyville Police Department.
The two accused promoters, 38-year-old James Chad Tucker and his wife Christina Tucker, 37, of Meadowlark Drive, were each charged with one count of aggravated gambling promotion -- a class E felony -- and one count of possession of gambling devices, according to jail records.
The couple were booked into Bedford County Jail and released on $6,000 bond. Four dealers and a security guard were also arrested and charged with aggravated gambling promotion.
A total of 26 players were also each cited for misdemeanor gambling and released. All are scheduled to appear in Bedford County General Sessions Court on Sept. 23.
Authorities seized $48,000 in cash, gambling paraphernalia, a small amount of marijuana and firearms, according to a TBI press release.
Crews said he headed up the investigation, which began after he received information about the alleged gambling operation.
"We've conducted surveillance on the building on several nights and we've also had undercover agents in the building," Crews said.
Crews said the Tuckers had a doorman, Victor Gill, providing security for the gaming house and video cameras covering the outside of the building. Two-way radios were allegedly used so that the operators could know when a player would enter the structure.
Once inside, authorities found four commercial poker tables, each with room for 10 players plus the dealer.
"It was high stakes poker games where they were playing Texas hold 'em," Crews said, with one table having a "buy in" of $1,000, another at $500 and two tables with a $200 "buy-in."
"It was no limit, from what we understand," Crews said of the games.
Players would allegedly purchase poker chips from a cash office set up in one corner of the building run by one of the promoters, Crews said. A player could buy extra chips from the table, but most cash transactions allegedly took place in the office, he said.
"Compared to our surveillance, this was a slow night," Crews said, adding that as many as 50 people would sometimes be in attendance at the gaming house, most of whom were from out of town.
Surveillance had been ongoing for several weeks by Crews, Detective Charles Merlo and an unidentified TBI agent.
This building at 101 Tillett Circle, directly behind Ascend Credit Union, was the location of an alleged gaming house that was raided by local authorities Tuesday night. Along with the four gaming tables, a number of chairs, two large flat screen TVs, a police scanner, thousands of poker chips and decks of cards were seized, Crews said.
Players were also treated to a full buffet, free alcohol and cigarettes, Crews said. Two air purifiers to keep the building smoke free were also taken.
So much evidence was taken from the building that it took a large U-Haul truck to carry it away, Crews said.
The TBI were called in because of the size of the operation, Crews said. The raid was conducted by over 25 officers from the TBI, the Drug Task Force and the THP. Crews noted that the Shelbyville police department "simply doesn't have the manpower here to pull off an operation like that without their assistance."
Crews said the gaming house "had gotten out of control."
"They were bringing people in from all over Tennessee, the types of people they were bringing into this town ... they were dangerous people, drug dealers from other areas, as well as people that were arrested for aggravated gambling promotion in another city," Crews said.
The detective was referring to a gambling bust that took place in December 2006 in La Vergne, in which 22 people were arrested, including a couple from Shelbyville, Steven Colbert and Cathy McPherson, who were charged with the promotion of gambling and aggravated gambling, according to a press release from the city of La Vergne.
The pair were two of the 26 people cited for gambling on Tuesday. Crews said the early part of the investigation involved comparing notes with La Vergne authorities about the 2006 arrests.
Crews said the department was sending a message that "this won't be tolerated. It presents a problem for the city as a whole."
"A lot of people think this is a victimless crime, but ask a lot of these guys' wives if this is victimless," Crews said.
Crews also said that police know this isn't the only gaming house in town, stating that others have "opened up over the last few months."
"They've taken off like wildfire; we're just hoping to cut the head of the snake off."
A total of 33 people are facing charges in connection with a raid on an alleged gaming house in Shelbyville Tuesday night.
Charged with aggravated gambling promotion are:
James C. Tucker, 38, Shelbyville.
Christina D. Tucker, 37, Shelbyville.
Neal C. Phillips, 27, Woodbury.
Samuel C. Owens, 27, Smyrna.
Victor G. Gill, 48, Shelbyville.
Andrew W. Craze, 26, Oliver Springs.
Christian E. Jeppsen II, 24, Bell Buckle.
Charged with misdemeanor gambling are:
Gilbert B. McCarter, 58, Shelbyville.
Michael J. Swain, 36, Shelbyville.
Terry W. Johnson, 50, Columbia.
Cecil H. Robinette, 52, Mt. Pleasant.
Larry D. Wilson, 50, Smyrna.
Anthony Boyce, 35, Shelbyville.
Sompong Ouanevima, 33, Murfreesboro.
Steven R. Colbert, 43, Shelbyville.
Cathy D. McPherson, 24, Shelbyville.
Linda S. Pogue, 62, Huntland.
Shannon H. Jennings, 37, Murfreesboro.
Kenneth C. Spasoff, 24, Wartrace.
Robert D. White, 29, Mt. Pleasant.
Bruce Y. Peery III, 30, Dickson.
Nathan F. Forrest, 34, Nashville.
Donald G. Patterson, 59, Fayetteville.
Christohper W. Simons, 27, Shelbyville.
Audie W. Stewart, 57, Nashville.
Gary A Coleman, 58, Lynchburg.
Timothy L. Hill, 27, Unionville.
James M. Leazott, 53, Lynnville.
Christopher S. Yokely, 20, Ethridge.
Hugh T. Herrington, Jr., 24, Pulaski.
James M. Warr, 63, Memphis.
Pamela J. Williams, 53, Bell Buckle.
Carl E. Harris, 31, Shelbyville.
Channel 5 news video link:
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - Police arrested 33 people and seized $48,000 after raiding an illegal gambling operation in Bedford County.
According to a press release issued by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, police raided a Shelbyville building around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday night. They found four commercial poker tables with room for 10 players each.
More than two dozen players were charged with gambling and released.
Two promoters were arrested, who police identified as James Chad Tucker, 38, and his wife, Christina Tucker, 37, both of Shelbyville. The couple was booked into the Bedford County Jail on charges of aggravated gambling promotion and possession of gambling devices.
Four dealers and one security guard were also booked on charges of aggravated gambling promotion.
Investigators seized $48,000 in cash, gambling paraphernalia, marijuana and firearms.
The TBI, Shelbyville Police Department, 17th Judicial Drug Task Force and the Tennessee Highway Patrol were involved in the raid.
Investigators had been aware of the operation for about 4 months, and believed it to be operation for less than one year.
By Mike Petersmpeters@greeleytribune.com
A battle is quickly brewing between the owners of Rafferty’s Bar in west Greeley and the state agencies that arrested five of their patrons for gambling.About 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Greeley police, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Colorado Liquor Board conducted a raid of the bar and arrested five people on misdemeanor ganmbling charges.Greeley police spokesman Sgt. Joe Tymkowych identified the people who were arrested as:• Kevin P. Raley, 43, Windsor, a table dealer;• Timothy Oullette, 45, Greeley, table dealer;• Mary Lynch Paiz, 57, Greeley, game manager/coordinator• James R. Vaughn, 39, Evans, table dealer• Branden E. Waddle, 30, Greeley, game manager/coordinator They were all booked into the Weld County Jail on charges of professional gambling, then released on $3,000 bond.But the owners of the popular Greeley nightclub said the state officials were out of line with the raid.“This was a poker club” said Rafferty’s co-owner Rich Miner. “The house didn’t take a cut of the money, we didn’t force anyone to buy drinkds, we made sure we met all the state requirments.”The club plays on Tuesday and Sunday nights, Mibner said, and everyone who joins is required to read the by-laws, which qualify it as a club. “There was nothing secret about it,” Miner said. ‘It was on our website and we had posters in the bar.”Miner and co-owner Steve White cited a state law defining “social gambling” as legal if the people have a “bona fide social relationship.” The men say the club members were themselves a social organization, so they met the requirements of social gambling.But, according to Mark Couch, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue, for gambling to be conducted in a place where liquor is sold is illegal in Colorado. “If they have a Colorado liquor license,”Couch said, “games of chance are not allowed.” The exception, of course, are the Colorado towns that allow legal gambling.
by Paul A. Romer - Telegram Staff WriterPublished August 15, 2008215 Views View Map
BELTON - The Bell County District Attorney’s Office hoped circumstantial evidence was enough to prevail in a case against a man they believe was the getaway driver in a heist that took place in June 2007 at a high-stakes poker game in Killeen.
It found out Tuesday that the evidence presented didn’t warrant a conviction when a jury, convened in 264th State District Court, deliberated for four hours and 20 minutes before returning a not guilty verdict on behalf of Calvin Dewayne Williams, 26, of Killeen.
Williams was exonerated on two counts of aggravated robbery.
“I totally respect the verdict of the jury. What we had was a largely circumstantial case,” prosecutor Mike Waldman said. “I believe Calvin was the driver …What I think happened was the jury did a good job following their oath and I think they found that we didn’t prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Williams’ car was used in the late-night heist, which occurred in 2900 block of Tucson Street in a gated community.
A would-be participant in the poker game drove up to the house and saw men dressed in black run from the house and get into a car.
The man told police he continued past the house with the car following behind him and was able to get the car’s license plate number.
Police tracked the car to Williams, who lived less than two miles from the robbery scene.
When officers arrived they knocked on the front door.
“My client was just at home and didn’t know anything was going on,” said Jack Holmes, Williams’ attorney. “He didn’t even know his car had been used.”
An officer stationed at the backyard of the property said he heard someone scale a rear fence and then saw a man run to a creek bed where he attempted to hide, according to court documents.
Police said that man was 22-year-old Richard Daniel Moaney IV, who pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery in February and is serving a 45-year prison term.
Waldman called Moaney “the main actor.” He said Moaney was the one who kicked in the door and pistol-whipped one of the poker players.
“He did that while he was on felony probation for engaging in organized criminal activity,” Waldman said.
Police reported finding two handguns along with $16,000, wallets and cell phones that matched those stolen in the robbery in a woodpile at a house next door to Williams’ house.
“We didn’t have anyone who could say for sure it was Calvin (driving),” Waldman said. “Our case was nothing more than circumstances that we put together. I think the jury wanted more.”
Waldman said he explained the nature of the case to the victims before it went to trial.
“They are happy with the way we tried the case,” he said. “They understand.”
The homeowner told police that after his door was kicked in two men with coverings over their faces and pistols in their hands ordered everyone to get down on the floor.
A guest who told police he refused to lie on the floor said he was pistol whipped and then slashed across his chest with a knife.
Moaney traveled from the Telford Unit in New Boston to testify at the trial but was never called.
Holmes said Moaney’s story was that Williams was not involved in the heist.
When asked why he didn’t call Moaney as a witness Waldman spoke about Moaney’s felony convictions.
“I sure didn’t want to sponsor him as one of my witnesses,” he said. “I didn’t care what he had to say.”
Since Williams was only charged with two counts of aggravated robbery and there were a total of eight victims, the state could potentially charge Williams with six other counts.
“No other charges are being considered,” Waldman said. “The jury spoke and we totally respect that.”
Police believe four men participated in the heist. The only people ever arrested in the case were Moaney and Williams.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
News Video Link http://www.wsmv.com/video/16894031/index.html
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Poker can be fun, but people playing for cash in Tennessee could be breaking the law.
On Monday night, Metro police broke up what they called a sophisticated gambling operation with a familiar Nashville businessman in the mix.
Channel 4's Sara Dorsey was with police during the raid.
At a house on McGavock Pike, cars crammed the driveway, cameras were mounted on each corner and police said the gambling operation was going on inside.
"This isn't your work group getting together and playing cards once a month. This is somebody organizing a game and making money off of it," said an undercover detective.
Police said the man responsible is Paul Eichel, who had an expired business license under the name Casino Royale School for Gambling.
But the undercover detective said the line between business and criminal poker is cash.
"By chance, I was able to get in and play one night. I bought in at $100," he said.
The amount was enough for a warrant, plus neighbors and Metro Councilman Phil Clayburn have been complaining.
Tracey Baggett, who was one of the 14 or so people inside the home, said money is being exchanged but that it's all in good fun.
"It's just a bunch of guys having a good time; it goes on every day all over the place," he said.
Police said they're looking for people generating a lot of complaints and making a lot of money. So, if a few people get together for poker night, police said not to worry.
"We've heard reports of $5,000 or $10,000 being on the table at one time," the detective said.
Police said they seized about $3,000 in cash, a computer, and a gaming table along with a lot of chips.
Detectives said they know this is an uphill battle but if nothing else, maybe gamblers will see that police are serious.
Eichel has been in the news before: In 2005, police questioned him and searched his property in the disappearance of Janet March. March’s husband, Perry March, who was later convicted of Janet March’s murder, had been Eichel’s attorney.
In 2002, when Eichel owned a few troubled clubs in Nashville, he spent time in jail for not filing proper IRS documents on money he made.
In Monday night’s raid, he faces charges of promotion of gambling and possession of a gambling device.
Eichel was the only person charged in the raid. Police said they want to focus on the gaming organizers who are making the money.
The other players were all searched, run for warrants and then allowed to go home.
Lakeland man killed in robbery
July 28, 2008
LAKELAND, GA (WALB) - Police in Lakeland are looking for a couple of killers after a home invasion murder.
44 year-old Norris Miller was playing a game of poker with friends at a home on Talley Avenue just after 1:00 Monday morning.
Police say two masked men kicked in the door and demanded money.
The robbers stole $220 then shot Miller with a 380 caliber pistol.
"We have one black male who had a gunshot wound to the arm. It went through the arm and into the chest. EMS was called and he was transported to South Georgia Medical Center where he later passed away," says Lakeland Police Chief Robbie Grantham.
Police say they don't know why the killers shot Miller but it's an unusal situation for the small city. "This is rare. I know we've had two this year but it's very rare."
Investigators say they have several leads, but none are very solid.
They're asking anyone with information to call the Lakeland Police Department. That number is 229-482-3309.
By Richard GazarikTRIBUNE-REVIEWWednesday, July 30, 2008
The state attorney general wants a rural Westmoreland County fire department to surrender more than $40,000 it raised from poker tournaments it held last year as fundraisers.
The tournaments were organized by Greensburg attorney Larry Burns, who faces misdemeanor gambling charges for allegedly running Texas Hold 'Em tournaments in Seward.
A petition was filed this week in Cambria County seeking $40,814 the department earned from gambling.
State police seized more than $9,000 during an August raid and are seeking forfeiture of the remaining $31,000, which was deposited in the fire department's account at AmeriService Financial in Johnstown.
story continues below
Attorney Jeff Monzo, who represents the fire department, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Kevin Harley, a spokesman for Attorney General Tom Corbett, said: "We just have lawyers fill out the paperwork on the forfeiture. We'll let the state police speak for themselves."
State police Cpl. Linette Quinn in Harrisburg said forfeiture of cash and other assets from illegal enterprises is routine, especially in drug cases.
Tournament poker has gained popularity since ESPN started airing the World Series of Poker, and the number of online poker tournaments has proliferated.
Under Pennsylvania law, individuals and organizations cannot profit from illegal gambling.
Texas Hold 'Em is a seven-card game in which wagers are made on the best five cards held by players.
In April, state police charged Burns, 63, with profiting from the three tournaments in Seward as well as weekly poker games in Hempfield.
Poker tournaments have been sponsored by fire departments, clubs and other groups to raise money or to boost business.
Playing poker for money at a fire hall, club or business that has a liquor license is illegal, according to state law, unless the tournament is a self-sponsored event.
For private clubs, poker is not allowed under the Local Options for Small Games of Chance.
Restaurants can hold self-sponsored tournaments as long as a third party is not involved. The only exception is if the third party is a charitable organization.
On some Web sites, players can learn locations of tournaments in Pennsylvania and can be notified by e-mail of where the games will be held.
Police raid Moose Lodge over gaming
WEST CHESTER — The commotion of police bursting into the Moose Lodge to seize illegal gambling machines wasn't enough to interrupt a game of indoor shuffleboard.
During a surprise bust about 8 p.m. Thursday, state police Liquor Control Enforcement and West Chester officers seized four illegal knock-off video slot machines and roughly $2,000.During the raid in the first block of North Church Street, police asked roughly 15 patrons to leave the bar while officers loaded up the machines and interviewed employees and administrators.Before leaving, one patron openly blamed Gov. Ed Rendell and the state's new casinos for the local bust."You can thank Ed Rendell for this ... He brings in casinos ... Then he starts cracking down on the Moose Lodge, the VFW," the man yelled.Liquor Enforcement Sgt. William La Torre said his office received complaints regarding the gambling machines. The complaints prompted undercover officers to visit the bar, he said. Once the undercover officers observed customers using the machines, a raid was scheduled, he said."There are a lot of bars that have machines like these and people just need to tell us about them," La Torre said before the raid. "It will help us respond to them."Customers gamble on the machines and then a bartender or employee will pay out their winnings, La Torre said. But, he said, the machines are "knock-offs," so the odds are actually in favor of the establishments."In essence, people pump money in and what they're winning back is so minimal," La Torre said.And, police said, even if an establishment is not paying out winnings for their knock-off machines, just having the machines is illegal.No one was arrested during Thursday's raid. However, after investigators complete a financial audit, criminal charges may be filed, La Torre said."First, we like to see where the money is going, who's managing it, who's responsible for it," La Torre said.If administrators knew about the activity, they could be charged, he said. Or charges could be filed against the establishment itself, he said.Moose administrator Mike Meredith showed up during the raid. As investigators began seizing some of the bar's cash, Meredith asked if anything would be left behind for operation."I want to be able to open tomorrow," Meredith said.La Torre said, "You gotta be able to operate legitimately."Auditing the bar's finances could take weeks, police said. The bar was cleared to reopen after investigators left Thursday night.Similarly, in June, LCE raided Phoenixville's Loyal Order of Moose Lodge for the second time in the past year.After receiving an anonymous detailed letter, LCE revisited the Lodge on June 17, police said.There, LCE seized two poker machines, two video slot machines and roughly $300 after seizing illegal poker machines from there last fall, said Enforcement Officer Frank Spera."Apparently, they put them back in when we left and kept on doing what they were doing," Spera said.Illegal gambling can be reported anonymously at 215-726-6200.
©The Phoenix 2008
By Sergio ChapaMonday, June 30, 2008 at 2:11 p.m.
An alleged mini-casino run out of Mission home is closed for business.
Police received an anonymous tip and raided the alleged poker den at 913 Keystrone Dr. on Saturday night.
Mission Police Lt. Martin Garza said investigators found between 40 and 50 people gambling.
All of them allegedly violated state gambling laws by paying an entrance fee to get inside and play Texas Hold 'Em for cash.
"It makes it illegal when the house takes money and recieves money at the entrance and makes money at the end of the night," Garza said.
Many of the alleged gamblers decided to become witnesses for police.
They told detectives that they paid anywhere from $20 to $40 bucks and sometimes all the way up to $150 to get in and play.
The witnesses will not likely face charges.
But homeowners and two others involved were not so lucky.
Garza said they are likely to face criminal charges.
"Right now, we're looking at bringing charges to the people that are actually responsible for promoting this type of illegal activity: gambling," Garza said.
Assistant principal accused of running gambling ringJune 30, 2008 - 8:58PM
By Ryan Holeywell, The Monitor
MISSION - A McAllen assistant principal who allegedly ran a gambling ring from his home was arraigned on criminal charges Monday.
Police say Jose Luis Esquivel, 38, hosted high-stakes Texas Hold ‘Em poker games in his home for months and took a cut of the winnings.
Esquivel is an assistant principal at Castañeda Elementary School in McAllen, said school district spokesman Mark May.
Police executed a search warrant on Esquivel's residence in an upscale Mission neighborhood Saturday night, where they recovered $4,000 in cash, as well as two small bags of cocaine that patrons had left behind, said Mission police spokesman Lt. Martin Garza.
Garza said 40 to 50 people were at the house at the time of the raid.
Monday afternoon, May said McAllen school district leaders were on summer break and had not yet disciplined Esquivel. Administrators will likely address the situation after they return July 14, May said.
Esquivel was charged with promotion of gambling, a class A misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
A woman who answered the door at Esquivel's home Monday said he was not home and the family had no comment on the matter. Esquivel's attorney, Carlos Ortegon, did not return after-hours phone calls Monday.
Garza said that patrons of the home-run casino are cooperating with the police investigation. He said police were led to the gambling ring after anonymous complaints indicating the gambling ring had been operating for eight months.
Home poker games are generally not illegal, Garza said, but Esquivel took a cut of the winnings - a fee known as the "rake" in casino terminology. Card dealers also received tips, Garza said.
Of the $4,000 seized Saturday, $1,800 was hidden in the bra of one of Esquivel's family members.
The house, at 913 Keystone Drive, is in a quiet Sharyland neighborhood south of Expressway 83 near Stewart Road.
On Monday, neighbors said they had no idea what was happening in the house almost every Saturday night, but sometimes as many as 60 cars clogged the streets around the neighborhood.
"This is about the community working with the police, addressing issues involved in their neighborhoods," Garza said.
He said it was fortunate police were able to bust the gambling ring before it spiraled out of control.
Given the presence of drugs, alcohol and gambling in the house, it was an "unsecured environment," Garza said.
"A dispute or a fight could take place," he said. "Someone could wind up getting hurt or murdered inside (the) residence... the main thing for us is to prevent any unwanted incidents from occurring in our local neighborhood."
Garza said Esquivel will likely be the only person involved in the gambling to be charged with a crime.
Esquivel's wife and three children were asleep in a bedroom when police raided the home around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
"The intelligence we had is that Mr. Esquivel is the person responsible for promoting this activity," Garza said.
July 8, 2008
Hagerstown man charged in holdup of illicit poker game
Maryland state trooper was one of the victims
By HEATHER KEELS (email@example.com)
HAGERSTOWN — A Hagerstown man has been charged in the May 30 holdup of an illicit poker game, where police say he and another man took about $4,000 from 18 people, including a Maryland State Police trooper.
Michael Joseph Campher, 22, of 960 Security Road, Apt. A, faces a total of 52 charges in the case, Washington County District Court records show. He was being held Monday at the Washington County Detention Center on $400,000 bond, a spokesman there said.
Trooper 1st Class Michael A. Ford of the Hagerstown Barracks confirmed to investigators that he was one of the victims, according to charging documents for Campher filed by Maryland State Police Cpl. Carl R. Hager of the Combined County Criminal Investigation Unit in Cumberland, Md.
Asked about possible repercussions for Ford, state police spokeswoman Elena Russo said the matter was under investigation. She said she could not comment further because it was a personnel matter. She confirmed that a number of gambling activities, such as the Texas Hold 'Em game described in the robbery case, are illegal in Maryland.
Ford was not working Monday and his voicemail box at the Hagerstown barracks was full.
According to interviews with five of the victims, the robbery happened shortly after 10 p.m. during a poker game in a building at 223 N. Prospect St. in Hagerstown, Hager wrote in the charging documents.
The victims said that just after the first break, two men in ski masks walked in and ordered everyone to put their money on the table, Hager wrote. One of the men pointed a gun at one of the players, and everyone reached into their pockets and put their money on the table as the other man gathered it up, according to victim accounts in Hager's report.
The victims heard the man with the gun address the man gathering the money as "Mike," and several of the players noticed that the man addressed as Mike had distinct-looking greenish eyes and a bulge under his mask that could have been created by dreadlocks, Hager wrote.
Afterwards, the players discussed these details and reached a consensus that the man gathering the money was a man with dreadlocks and green eyes who had played with them there before, known to them as "Mike," Hager wrote.
One of the victims identified this person as Campher, Hager wrote. That victim told investigators he was the one who introduced Campher to the poker games and said he immediately suspected Campher was the one gathering the money, Hager wrote. He also provided police with Campher's address.
Campher told police he had heard he was being accused, but he denied any involvement in the robbery, Hager wrote. However, Campher's brother told police Campher had admitted to him that he was involved in the robbery, Hager alleged in court documents.
Campher faces counts of first-degree assault, armed robbery, robbery, second-degree assault, theft, use of a handgun in the commission of a felony, reckless endangerment, and conspiracy to commit robbery and armed robbery.
A preliminary hearing for Campher was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. July 30 in Washington County District Court.