Man pleads guilty in bingo hall arson

December 06, 1990|By Joel McCord

Izaak Martin "Red" Silber, one of six reputed mobsters charged with laundering ill-gotten money through Bingo World in Anne Arundel County, pleaded guilty yesterday to arranging the arson of a competing bingo hall.

Silber, who turns 79 today, admitted in U.S. District Court that he traveled from his home in Miami to New York to recruit an arsonist to set fire to Bingo Palace on Route 3 in Gambrills in the fall of 1989.

The fire caused mostly smoke and water damage to the interior of the building and delayed its opening by 20 days, manager Brian Barlia said.

Silber, described by his lawyer as a bookmaker for at least 40 years, faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but he probably will receive a little more than two years under federal sentencing guidelines.

He was only a "minor participant" in the entire scheme, explained Gregg Bernstein, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case.

"We do not feel he was one of the major players," Mr. Bernstein said. "Basically, he operated as a facilitator."

The plea agreement stipulates that Silber is not required to cooperate with the government in its prosecution of the others charged in the scheme.

The other five are Dominic Peter "Large" Cortina, 65, of Chicago; Donald John Angelini, 70, of Elmhurst, Ill.; Sam Frank Urbana, 65, of Miami; Angelo "Gus" King, 64, of West Hollywood, Fla.; and Ettore "Eddie" Coco, 83, of New York.

According to the government's statement of facts submitted with the plea agreement, Silber arranged meetings in early 1986 among Stephen B. Paskind, his partner in a Florida bingo hall, and four others, three of whom would later invest in Bingo World on Belle Grove Road in Brooklyn Park.

The investors then used the bingo hall to launder cash from gambling, loan sharking and interstate theft operations in New York, Chicago and Florida, federal prosecutors have charged.

After meetings among Mr. Paskind and the other investors in the summer of 1989, Silber, who had been involved in some of the bingo hall's operations, traveled to New York to recruit an arsonist known only as Tommy who set fire to Bingo Palace on Oct. 5, 1989.

Benjamin F. L. Darden, Silber's lawyer, said his client agreed to the plea bargain "because of his age and his health."

Judge Frederick N. Smalkin Jr., who accepted the plea, scheduled sentencing for March 6.

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