Video poker machine owner loses tax case Rossville man to appeal, is said to owe over $1.5 million in back taxes.

November 18, 1991|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

Joseph J. Stonik, owner of the Rossville Vending Machine Co., has lost the latest round in a series of court trials resulting from a crackdown on video poker machines in 1985.

Maryland Tax Court Judge William B. Calvert last month ruled that Stonik's firm owes Baltimore County $1,515,052.35 in back taxes, interest and penalties on video poker machine revenues collected between 1982 and 1985 but not reported as income.

Assistant Attorney General Gaylin Soponis said books seized during raids initiated by state Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli revealed unreported income of at least $7 million during those years -- all from people who dropped quarters into the poker machines, which police say are often used for illegal gambling.

Stonik's attorney, Robert L. Hanley Jr., said Friday that he will appeal Calvert's ruling to Baltimore County Circuit Court. If unsuccessful there, the case would be appealed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and on to the Court of Appeals -- the state's highest court -- if necessary, Hanley said.

Last year, the Court of Special Appeals ruled against Stonik in a court case which challenged the state's power to collect back taxes.

Players win "hands" on the machines, typically located in bars and liquor stores, and if they rack up enough points, receive a furtive cash reward from a bartender or clerk. Machine owners also have been found to have secret interests in marginally profitable bars and restaurants, whose owners also share in the illegal profits.

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