Defense lawyer attacks legality of video poker BALTIMORE COUTNY

April 06, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

A lawyer for a vending company executive took an unusual tack in defending his client on gambling charges yesterday: He argued that video poker and slot machines are really gambling devices.

"The county knows what these machines are for, right?" Richard M. Karceski argued in Dundalk District Court. "The county can't license them and then the police come and bust you. It just doesn't make sense."

Mr. Karceski is defending Anthony Raymond Paskiewicz, vice president of Columbia Vending Co.

Judge Lawrence R. Daniels, who will decide if he agrees with Mr. Karceski's entrapment argument, said, "I, as a citizen, would like to know why the county is licensing illegal gambling devices?"

Judge Daniels convicted Columbia Vending of one gambling charge and fined the firm $1,000 plus court costs. He suspended a 90-day jail term. In addition, he granted probation before judgment verdicts and imposed $450 fines on John K. Milani, licensee of the New Monaghan's Pub in the 2100 block of Gwynn Oak Ave., and on Mon-Gen Corp., corporate owner of the bar.

The case began last July, when county vice detectives saw patrons of New Monaghan's receive allegedly illegal payoffs. The patrons had racked up points playing the bar's three video machines. The next day, police returned with a warrant and seized one video poker machine, two video slot machines and $2,500.

The machines and cash were confiscated in a partial plea agreement. Mr. Milani said he has replaced the machines and added a state keno machine.

Eugene A. Freeman, the county official in charge of licensing "amusement" machines, did not attend yesterday's trial, but later he said the county doesn't license illegal gambling machines.

"These machines are licensed as coin operated amusement devices," he said.

He also said Mr. Karceski's argument is not new and "doesn't hold water." People legally sell dominoes, but they're sometimes used for gambling too. "Someone can gamble on anything," he said.

Baltimore County and Baltimore City earn revenue from video machine licenses. The county collects a $175 licensing fee for each machine. Many surrounding suburban jurisdictions don't allow the machines because they are so frequently used for gambling.

In the New Monaghan's case, detectives also found documents showing Columbia Vending had lent the bar's licensees $30,000. Vending companies often loan money to restaurant and bar owners on the condition their video machines are placed in the business, police said.

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