2 guilty of running an illegal poker hall

CRIME WATCH

May 11, 2006|By ANNIE LINSKEY | ANNIE LINSKEY,SUN REPORTER

A Howard County police officer and his father were found guilty yesterday of running an illegal poker hall in Glen Burnie, complete with chips featuring the officer's nickname.

After a day of testimony in which a witness said he didn't "want to lie anymore," Anne Arundel County District Judge Thomas J. Pryal sentenced Officer Michael "Tykie" Thorn, 40, and Gary Allen Thorn Sr., 64, to a year of unsupervised probation.

Asked how he felt about the outcome, Gary Thorn, of Glen Burnie, frowned and said: "I think it shows on my face." His son, a 19-year veteran of the Howard police force who lives in Ellicott City, declined to comment.

Their attorneys had contended that the hall -- a warehouse on Airport Park Road -- was a place for people to learn how to play Texas hold 'em, a popular poker game, and no money changed hands.

Initially, that is what a prosecution witness said, too. James Robert Ozman testified that he had been to the hall several times, including the night of April 12, 2005, when Anne Arundel County police raided it.

In court yesterday, Ozman said: "The game is not for money, it is for fun," and "It was just kind of instructional." But once Assistant State's Attorney Mark Tyler asked him yesterday to read a police questionnaire that Ozman had filled out after the raid, Ozman's face turned red. He read aloud from his statement that said he had either won or lost $200 to $300 at the hall.

After a brief recess, Ozman said: "I don't want to lie anymore. We were playing a $5 to $10 poker game. I don't think that's the biggest crime in the world."

Tyler brought to court hundreds of colored poker chips stamped with the name "Tykie" on them.

Police who raided the hall seized $2,345 from Michael Thorn, who was there with his father.

The trial started March 22, but was postponed because several prosecution witnesses granted immunity for testimony wanted time to speak with their lawyers.

Pryal found Gary Thorn guilty of two gambling-related misdemeanors; his sentence also included 16 hours of community service and a $250 fine. Michael Thorn was found guilty of five misdemeanor charges. His sentence included 40 hours of community service and a $500 fine.

Both were given probation before judgment -- a legal finding that could allow their records to be expunged.

The Howard Police Department suspended Michael Thorn without pay for 30 days. He will be allowed to retire with full pension and benefits in February and will be on unpaid leave until then, said Clarke Ahlers, his lawyer.annie.linskey@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Melissa Harris contributed to this article.

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