Arundel police uncover alleged betting operation Tip on burglar leads them to house

father, son arrested

October 24, 1998|By Devon Spurgeon | Devon Spurgeon,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County police went looking for a burglar. They wound up uncovering a suspected father-son betting operation being run out of a Brooklyn Park basement -- and reported finding $37,000 stuffed inside a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Christmas tin.

Police talked about their good luck yesterday in getting a call Thursday from a neighbor who alerted them to a man climbing into a rear ground-level window of a house in the 300 block of Edison St. Police checked, and inside found and arrested Bryan Joseph Meyers, 21, of Brooklyn Park.

Officers Michael Praley and Charles Benner then spotted piles of cash on top of a basement television set and a piece of paper they believed was a betting slip, police said. They called in the vice squad.

In a basement closet, Detective T. K. LeCompte and Officers Vince Butler and Thomas P. Middleton dug out a Reese's tin from a stack of board games and found the thousands of dollars inside, police said.

They also found $5,187 more in bills in two thick spiral notebooks apparently used to log bets, a fax machine, a Caller ID box, sports books and hundreds of white betting slips, many for this weekend's college football games, police said.

Police said it could be one of the largest gambling operations ever uncovered in Anne Arundel County. The closest, they said, was a 1994 raid that yielded $19,000.

Police think the suspected bookie operation uncovered yesterday could be a midlevel operation in a larger gambling ring. If so, they hope further investigation will lead to financiers and gamblers who called and faxed in bets.

Middleton said the suspected burglarly and the alert neighbor saved police about two months' worth of investigation and red tape usually needed to search suspected betting parlors.

George Thomas Wengert, 52, the owner of the home, has been charged with gambling on college and professional football, college basketball and professional basketball, and with establishing and occupying a residence for the purpose of gambling. If convicted, he could face five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Wengert admitted to detectives that he had been running the operation for two years and had earned about $10,000, police said. His clients were people he met in bars or worked with at United Parcel Service, where he is a driver, police said.

His son, Joshua Wengert, 23, has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and gambling on college football. He could face two years in prison and a $2,500 fine if convicted. Burton found marijuana seeds in Joshua Wengert's bedroom trash can, police said.

The Wengerts were released on personal recognizance.

Meyers could get 20 years in prison if convicted. He was sent to the County Detention Center in lieu of $7,500 bail.

Pub Date: 10/24/98

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