Man pleads guilty to federal charges in Arundel bingo case

March 14, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

An organized crime figure pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Miami yesterday to federal racketeering and money laundering charges in the operation of a Brooklyn Park bingo hall, U.S. Attorney Richard D. Bennett announced.

Sam Frank Urbana, 61, of Hollywood, Fla., was sentenced by Judge Edward B. Davis to eight years in prison on charges of money laundering, conspiracy and racketeering.

Investigators at the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore said Urbana and several other gambling figures agreed in 1986 to finance the takeover and renovation of Bingo World, one of seven licensed for-profit bingo halls in Anne Arundel County.

Urbana arranged for Chicago crime figures to buy 42 percent interest in the Brooklyn Park hall while Stephen B. Paskind, a bingo hall operator in North Miami Beach who proposed the idea, claimed to own 84 percent to cover up the crime family's interest.

Paskind actually owned only 42 percent, and the rest was owned by small shareholders, authorities said.

Investigators said hundreds of thousands of dollars from illegal activities by Urbana and other crime figures were funneled into Anne Arundel County to renovate the bingo hall, which opened in 1987. The money was laundered through two banks in Florida and Union Trust Bank in Baltimore.

On Oct. 5, 1989, crime figures with an interest in Bingo World paid an arsonist to set fire to Bingo Palace, a competing business, authorities allege.

Ettore Coco, a New York crime figure, was named in the indictment brought against Urbana, but he died in December 1991 while awaiting trial, authorities said. Izaak Martin Silber, 69, of Hollywood, Fla., pleaded guilty in December 1990 to racketeering charges and was sentenced to 27 months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Jefferson Gray described Paskind as an unindicted co-conspirator and would not say if he cooperated in the investigation. Mr. Paskind still operates Bingo World, although the county has taken action to revoke his license.

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