Officer charged after poker raid

Off-duty policewoman accused of gambling after tip leads to Northeast game


An off-duty city police officer was charged with gambling offenses yesterday after police said they busted a high-stakes poker game in Northeast Baltimore as part of an internal affairs sting.

The officer, Vicki Mengel, is a nine-year veteran who works in the Southwestern District's operations squad, which typically targets drug dealing, prostitution, gambling and other nuisance crimes.

Police declined to release details about the raid, which occurred about 1:30 a.m. yesterday.

Matt Jablow, a Police Department spokesman, said five people, including Mengel, were given criminal summonses. Police seized $4,600.

"We began this investigation when we received a tip that Officer Mengel was involved in illegal gambling," Jablow said. He said Mengel has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the case.

Mengel and the others each face two gambling counts; one has a penalty of up to two years in prison and $1,000 fine. The other charge has a penalty of up to two years in prison and $100 fine, Jablow said.

Police said they received a tip that a poker game would be played on the second floor of a commercial building in the 6700 block of Harford Road.

After the tip, the department's internal affairs and vice detectives followed up with the investigation, Jablow said.

The game was not part of a tournament, such as what was targeted by police when they raided the Owl's Nest in South Baltimore last week. In that case, 80 people were given criminal citations, while others were expected to be issued criminal summonses.

Prosecutors said they dismissed the citations because police charged the participants under the wrong criminal statute.

Mengel is being represented by the police union in both the criminal and administrative aspects of the case, said Lt. Frederick V. Roussey, president of the union.

He said Mengel will have a suspension hearing Monday before Patrol Chief Deborah Owens.

Attempts to reach Mengel by telephone last night were not successful. She began her employment with the department Sept. 17, 1996, city records show.

Police did not release the names of the other four suspects because they had not finished writing the charges against them, Jablow said.

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