A Baltimore couple has pleaded guilty to gambling charges stemming from an illegal lottery prosecutors said was being run, in part, out of a Federal Hill church.
Jerome Berry, 58, and his wife, Mary, 48, pleaded guilty yesterday to possession of illegal lottery paraphernalia and the use of Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church to sell lottery tickets.
Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Elsbeth Levy Bothe gave each of the defendants, described by prosecutors as the lottery's ringleaders, probation before judgment. They each received one year of unsupervised probation.
Their son, Dwayne Berry, 29, pleaded guilty yesterday to possession of cocaine, and he also received one year of unsupervised probation. The drugs were found during a search of the Berry home by officers investigating the illegal lottery.
Assistant State's Attorney Martin J. Clarke asked the judge to give the defendants some jail time, but Bothe refused.
Clarke said Jerome Berry used the church as an "office" for the lottery. His wife operated a lottery "substation" on Oakley Avenue. The couple were found in possession of numerous lottery slips and tally sheets, which are used to keep track of bets taken in a day.
The prosecutor said Berry ran a "medium-sized" lottery that grossed more than $300,000 a year.
Jerome Berry was convicted in 1960 of possession of lottery slips, and his wife was convicted of the same charge last year, Clarke said.
Clarke said there was no evidence to suggest officials of the historic church, where Jerome Berry was in charge of maintenance, knew of his illegal lottery.
Gambling charges were filed last February against officials or members of the 154-year-old church on West Montgomery Street after some church members complained to police.
Those charged included the pastor, the Rev. Wendell O. Christopher, 39, and Jewell G. Hall, 36, the church secretary. Prosecutors dropped the charges against them April 11 because they lacked the evidence they thought they needed to get a conviction.
Gambling charges against three other defendants were dropped last July after prosecutors concluded that going ahead with a trial then would have damaged their case against the Berrys.