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TRUMBULL COUNTY Searches made in gambling probe



Published: Thu, November 8, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The yearlong investigation involved local, state and federal officials.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- More information was to be released today after a search of homes and cars in an investigation of an alleged gambling operation that authorities say includes the General Motors plant in Lordstown.

Police officers from Warren, Lordstown, Youngstown and Niles and agents with the FBI and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation served search warrants Tuesday and Wednesday in Trumbull County, officials said.

No arrests were made.

The federal warrants were issued in U.S. District Court in Youngstown.

What was sought: The affidavit, which states why the agents asked for the search warrants, remained sealed today, but attachments to the warrants state that law enforcement officials were looking for wagering paraphernalia relating to a bookmaking/gambling operation.

The attachments indicate that the paraphernalia consisted of, but was not limited to, bookkeeping records, accounting sheets, betting slips, line sheets, records of line information, ledger books and sheets, bettor sheets, records of daily wagering activity, cash, telephone numbers, lists, checks, telephone toll records, IOU's, documents showing evidence of indebtedness, telephones and telephone equipment, door and safe deposit keys and other gambling paraphernalia.

According to the search warrants, areas in Niles, Warren and Lordstown were searched.

Union reaction: "We got caught off guard with the news," said Jim Graham, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112.

Graham said the union has heard the searches involved 20 to 25 warrants, "but we don't have any names."

He doesn't think the investigation or the negative publicity associated with it will have any bearing on the plant's chances of getting a new product from GM.

"Detroit knows that we've have been bending over backwards here for the last five years to get a new product," Graham said. "We've got the best workers in the country here as far as quality."

The union includes 4,800 members and 3,800 retirees.

"It's unfortunate that we have so many good things going on at Lordstown and something like this has a big light shining on it," Graham said.

Bruce Simeone, Niles police chief, said Wednesday night his department served 20 of the warrants.

"It seems like a lot, but actually the warrants involved four homes, cars at the homes and people at the homes," Simeone said.

He declined to give the exact locations.

One location: Officials noted that one warrant was served to an owner of a home on Wood Street in Warren. Paper records and electronic devices were removed from the home.

Warren Police Chief John Mandopoulos and Simeone said FBI officials were to release more information today.

FBI officials could not be reached.

"This was a very extensive investigation," Simeone said. "It was very difficult, time-consuming and very long. I would say this investigation has gone on for about a year."

Simeone said he did not know if or when any arrests would be made.

"I do want to say that everyone did a tremendous job," Simeone said. "For this investigation to work, everyone had to work together and cooperate, and everyone did."

sinkovich@vindy.com




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