Bingo World is allowed to stay open

January 15, 1993|By John Rivera and Dennis O'Brien | John Rivera and Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writers

A Circuit Court judge yesterday ordered that a Brooklyn Park bingo parlor be permitted to stay open for at least two months while the county Board of Appeals decides its fate.

Judge Martin A. Wolff said yesterday he was unconvinced by arguments from county attorneys that Bingo World's operations posed a sufficient threat to public safety to warrant immediate closure.

He noted that the operation has 100 employees and generates thousands of dollars in tax revenues each year.

"If it closed up, there's no way this operation will ever come back," he said.

County attorneys wanted the bingo hall shut pending the outcome of a Board of Appeals hearing on a closure order issued by Inspections and Permits Director Robert Dvorak.

In his Dec. 23 order, Mr. Dvorak cited concerns that the parlor's owner, Stephen B. Paskind, has alleged ties to organized crime. The fact that he wants to sell the hall to a newly formed partnership that includes four of his former lawyers "destroys any public confidence" in the legitimacy of the continued operation, Mr. Dvorak said.

Mr. Dvorak denied Mr. Paskind's application to renew his license and transfer it to new ownership.

D. Christopher Ohly, attorney for Bingo World's owner, said Judge Wolff's order allows his client to sell his business to Arundel Amusements Inc., a partnership that has "an arm's length" relationship with Mr. Paskind.

"The county will achieve exactly what it wants. Mr. Paskind will be gone and the county will have qualified people running an operation, who all share a vested interest in seeing that it is run well," he said.

During the hearing, Mr. Ohly warned that closing the bingo hall would scare off the potential buyers.

"It just shuts the business down. There's nothing left of it. The patrons disappear," Mr. Ohly said. "One thing the county cannot rebut is that if this business is shut down, it will be destroyed."

But, deputy county attorney David Plymyer told Judge Wolff that if Bingo World is allowed to remain open, the court would be "protecting a business owned by members of organized crime from damage until they have an opportunity to sell it."

After the hearing, Mr. Plymyer said that court appeals of the county's shut-down order could take years. "The concern is that now it could drag out endlessly."

County officials have been trying for three years to close the bingo parlor based on evidence in U.S. District Court in Baltimore that Mr. Paskind, who now lives in Davie, Fla., had ties to organized crime figures who used the business to launder profits from illegal gambling, loan sharking, robbery and other enterprises.

In 1989, the county rejected Mr. Paskind's application to renew his license on the basis that he did not have the "good moral character" required to operate a bingo parlor. But a Circuit Court judge ruled that the county regulation applied only to first-time applicants and not to renewals, clearing the way for Mr. Paskind's renewal application.

Instead of appealing the court ruling, the county changed the law to include a moral turpitude standard for license renewals and invited Mr. Paskind to apply.

Mr. Paskind applied and was rejected.

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