Howard officer suspended after gambling accusations

Charges placed after raid by Arundel police April 12

April 22, 2005|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,SUN STAFF

A veteran Howard County police officer has been suspended indefinitely after being charged with running an illegal gambling operation known as "Tykie's Lodge" out of an Anne Arundel County warehouse.

Anne Arundel police raided the building in Glen Burnie on April 12, and this week charged Pfc. Michael "Tykie" Thorn, 39, with eight misdemeanors as part of an investigation that began at a similar operation in Baltimore County, according to charging documents.

Police also charged three others with misdemeanors in the operation that featured Texas Hold 'Em poker games, including Thorn's father, Gary Thorn.

Called free clinic

Michael Thorn could not be reached yesterday. But Gary Thorn, 63, said that he - not his son - was solely involved in the operation, which he described as a free poker clinic with no money being exchanged.

"I was trying to get the place as close as I could to the real thing for training purposes," said Gary Thorn of Glen Burnie. "Everyone knows that you can't play cards for money in Maryland, and I was looking for a legal way to get in on the Texas Hold 'Em action, which is the biggest thing going right now."

Police seized chips stamped with "Tykie," professional card tables printed with "Tykie" and a star on the green felt, more than $6,500 in cash, four signs advertising the operation, and two empty envelopes marked for "beer" and "slush" funds.

The small-time casino operated from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and from noon to 1 a.m. Fridays through Sundays in the building in the 800 block of Airport Park Road, charging documents said. It was closed Mondays.

To play, gamblers would pay a one-time, $20 fee and get a white card that would electronically open the door to the casino, according to the statement of a witness. Winners of more than $5,000 would be handed an IRS 1099 form.

Baltimore County

Police have alleged that the Thorns ran a similar operation in Baltimore County this year. A manager there told detectives that Tykie's Lodge was a nonprofit organization and that the Thorns donated proceeds to charitable organizations, charging documents say. On a later visit, a manager told detectives that the casino brought in $2,000 to $3,000 a night.

Thorn, of Ellicott City, is an 18-year officer. He had been in the department's traffic enforcement section until this month.

The four men were issued criminal summons to appear in court, rather than arrested.

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