A Brooklyn Park bingo hall whose owner is alleged to have ties to organized crime must shut its doors at the close of business today.
Last week, county officials issued an order closing Bingo World on Belle Grove Road and denying owner Stephen B. Paskind's request to renew his license and transfer it to new owners.
Federal authorities have identified Mr. Paskind, a Florida bingo operator, as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme in which organized crime figures secretly owned nearly half the shares in Bingo World and laundered illegal gambling proceeds through the business.
Allowing Mr. Paskind to sell a renewed license to Arundel Amusements, Inc., which includes four members of a Baltimore law firm that represented Bingo World, would threaten the integrity of commercial bingo, Robert J. Dvorak, Director of Inspections and Permits, wrote in a five-page decision.
Bingo World violated renewal terms, by switching prospective owners at the last minute, Mr. Dvorak said. In September, Bingo World requested a license transfer to Maryland Bingo Enterprises, Inc. But in December, just days before submitting a final application, the business asked to transfer the license to Arundel Amusements.
Six people associated with Bingo World have pleaded guilty to federal charges of laundering mob money through the bingo hall.
One of them, Dominic Cortina, 67, of Chicago, was sentenced in October in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to three years in prison. The U.S. Department of Justice says Cortina supplied Mr. Paskind with hundreds of thousands of dollars for renovations.
In several federal indictments in which Mr. Paskind was named as a co-conspirator, "the guilty pleas of his co-conspirators . . . disclosed that individuals who engaged in organized crime and racketeering had conspired with Mr. Paskind to establish Bingo World, Inc. as an enterprise to illegally "launder" funds derived from various criminal activities," Mr. Dvorak wrote. Mr. Paskind did not rebut those allegations, he noted.
Mr. Paskind, of Davie, Fla., could not be reached for comment.
In 1989, the county refused to renew Bingo World's commercial bingo license, claiming he lacked the "good moral character" necessary for a licensee under county code. A Circuit Court ruling cleared the way for Mr. Paskind to reapply.