Bingo World holders file suit over profits

October 02, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

Contending that that they have been cheated out of profits, eight shareholders of Bingo World filed a federal lawsuit yesterday against the principal owner of the northern Anne Arundel County bingo hall.

The shareholders, who invested $423,000 in 1986, own 16 percent of Bingo World's stock.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, also says the minority shareholders were not told of the operation's ties to organized crime when they made their investment.

Six people associated with the operation have pleaded guilty to federal money-laundering conspiracy charges.

One of them, Dominic Cortina, 67, of Chicago was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to three years in prison.

The Chicago Crime Commission describes Cortina as a high-ranking mob boss there.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregory Welsh and Jefferson M. Gray say that Cortina and other organized crime figures secretly owned 42 percent of the shares in Bingo World, and used the business to launder illegal gambling proceeds.

The civil suit was filed by Larry Wilner of Owings Mills on behalf of himself and seven other minority stockholders.

It names as defendants Bingo World and Stephen B. Paskind, whom federal authorities identify as an unindicted co-conspirator the money-laundering scheme.

Neither Mr. Paskind, who is believed to be living in Davie, Fla., nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, claims that Mr. Paskind engaged in racketeering, fraud and other federal violations.

Court papers charge that Mr. Paskind told minority investors that he owned 84 percent of Bingo World shares and that they would own the remaining 16 percent.

However, federal prosecutors presented evidence showing that Mr. Paskind owned only 42 percent of the shares and that the other 42 percent he claimed to own actually belonged to crime figures.

The minority shareholders "would not have invested in Bingo World if the proper representations had been made and the truth told," the complaint said.

Joshua R. Treem, an attorney for the minority investors, said his clients are seeking an undetermined sum of money owed to them since the bingo hall opened in April 1987.

"It's been generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in gross revenues from running the bingo hall, yet there's been no return on their investments at all," Mr. Treem said.

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