Man in court on gaming charge takes a chance and pleads guilty

June 17, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

An article in The Sun yesterday incorrectly reported the outcome of a gaming trial in Dundalk Wednesday, as the result of an editing error.

Anthony Raymond Paskiewicz, vice president of Columbia Vending Co., was found guilty of possessing an illegal slot machine after declining a judge's offer of a probation-before-judgment verdict. He intends to appeal.

+ The Sun regrets the errors.


Anthony Raymond Paskiewicz rejected an offer of probation before judgment on a gambling charge yesterday in Dundalk District Court, preferring to plead guilty.


It was an unusual choice, but it's just another skirmish in the long-running battle between Baltimore County police and vending machine company and bar owners that police say profit illegally from video poker and video slot machines.

Richard M. Karceski, Mr. Paskiewicz's attorney, thanked Judge Lawrence R. Daniels for the offer of probation, but said he plans to appeal. Probation before judgment cannot be appealed to a higher court.

Judge Daniels found Mr. Paskiewicz, vice president of Columbia Vending Co., guilty of possessing an illegal slot machine. He levied a $200 fine, plus court costs and an additional $30 for the state's criminal injury compensation fund. Judge Daniels found Mr. Paskiewicz not guilty of possessing the profits of a gaming table.

Mr. Paskiewicz has no prior criminal record.

Mr. Paskiewicz's company owned three machines that county vice squad detectives confiscated from New Monaghan's Pub in July 1992, after watching a bartender pay cash to two players who had won points on the machines. The pub is in the 2100 block Gwynn Oak Ave. in Woodlawn.

In April, Judge Daniels found Columbia Vending Co. guilty of one gambling charge and fined the firm $1,000. He granted probation before judgment verdicts and imposed $450 fines on John K. Milani, licensee of New Monaghan's, and on Mon-Gen Corp., which owns the bar.

Even with eyewitness testimony of vice detectives about gambling in the bar, which is a violation of county law and liquor board rules, the licensees have not been scheduled for a disciplinary hearing before the liquor board. In these cases, board rules require outright guilty verdicts or findings of no contest as grounds for a hearing.

Yesterday in court, Mr. Karceski objected to his client being held personally responsible for the use of machines licensed under his signature on county permits. Anyone, even a company janitor, could have signed the permits, he said, pointing out that his client was not in the bar when the gambling occurred.

Because payoffs were made, the judge ruled that the machines "are indeed slot machines."

He also agreed with assistant state's attorney Thomas H. Bostwick's argument that Mr. Paskiewicz has an interest in the illegal profits of his company's machine because he signed the permits and because he signed documents for a $30,000 loan that Columbia Vending made to the bar owners.

"I don't believe he can put his head in the sand at this point," Mr. Bostwick said.

The county licenses the machines as "amusement devices" and gets $175 per permit. Police say the machines are used for illegal gambling that seems petty, but adds up.

In most other Maryland counties and in Pennsylvania, video poker machines are considered illegal gambling devices. However, the machines are licensed in Baltimore and Baltimore County.

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