Deli owner is fined but avoids gambling conviction again

January 06, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

The players would enter Maria's Deli and Liquors in Parkville, get the secret key and then go next door to the secret gambling room in the back.

There, in a former dentist's office, Baltimore County vice detectives found six unregistered video poker machines and $3,372.50 in cash after a January 1993 raid.

Police said the elaborate arrangements were an effort by Maria's licensee, Peter G. Xanthakos, to avoid the fate he suffered in November 1991.

That's when county vice detectives seized five video gambling machines and $654 in cash at his store in the Parkville shopping center in the 7700 block of Harford Road. Mr. Xanthakos got probation before judgment and a $500 fine on gambling charges that time.

He did almost as well before Judge L. Edgar Brown in Dundalk District Court yesterday on the January 1993 raid. He got probation before verdict again and a $2,000 fine on two more gambling charges as part of a plea bargain that saved the state a trial. The fines were paid yesterday.

Joseph J. Balsamo, owner of JAG Vending, which owned the machines, received probation and a $500 fine from Judge Brown. Mr. Balsamo's route collection worker, Ronald Charles Combs, was fined $100 and given probation. The company is in the 1200 block of Bank St.

Judge Brown -- who usually sits in Caroline County -- did not know that county vice detectives also raided Maria's in April 1993 and confiscated four more video gambling machines and $5,400 in cash.

Richard Karceski, Mr. Xanthakos' attorney, assured Judge Brown yesterday that his client no longer has any offending machines in his store.

The county liquor board refuses to hold disciplinary hearings for license holders arrested for gambling in their establishments unless a court finds them guilty. And, since gambling cases almost always produce probation before judgment, that means eyewitness police testimony about gambling in county liquor outlets is almost never brought before the liquor board.

The lack of a conviction won't save Mr. Xanthakos from liquor board scrutiny this time, however. The board has scheduled a hearing Monday on charges that he turned his business over to a new operator last month without transferring the liquor license, a violation of board rules and state liquor laws.

He also has never paid a $250 fine the board levied Oct. 4, 1993, for serving an underage police cadet.

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