YOUNGSTOWN Tip prompted Knights of Columbus raid
Trial has been set for January for three arrested during a bingo raid.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Knights of Columbus No. 5371 did not apply for a bingo license for 2002, and an anonymous tipster who knew that reported it to the state.
The bingo game at 126 Davis Lane on the North Side was valid in 2001, said Chris Slagle, spokesman at the Ohio Attorney General's Office in Columbus.
The Knights had a temporary permit issued in January 2001 but did not apply in December 2001 for this year's license and therefore was operating illegally, Slagle said Monday.
Every December, groups must apply for a new license, which costs $25 -- $100, he said. Temporary permits are then issued to established bingo games, as the Knights was in 2001, and they operate on it until a new license is issued or rejected.
Groups that had no license the prior year do not receive a temporary permit. They must wait until their application is reviewed and approved before holding games, Slagle said.
Licenses for the current year are generally not issued until November or December because of the lengthy review process, Slagle said.
Last year, Mahoning County had 35 bingo games licensed by the state.
Slagle said the anonymous caller's information about the Knights of Columbus game was passed on to local law enforcement from the AG's office.
Undercover vice cops, who raided the game Saturday attended by roughly 100 players, seized a variety of pull-tabs, bingo supplies and $3,637.
As a fraternal group, the Knights' tax status prohibited it from selling instant bingo pull-tabs, Slagle said.
These people were arrested during Saturday's afternoon raid:
UAlfred R. Hull Sr., 68, of Westchester Drive, Austintown, who is listed on the attorney general's bingo Web site as the K. of C. and game contact person. Municipal Judge Robert P. Milich called the jail Sunday and set bond at $3,500 on charges of conducting an illegal bingo game and operating a gambling house. The jail then released Hull.
UJeraldine Lesko, 38, of Hillsdale Avenue, Youngstown. Judge Milich called the jail at Saturday night and set bond at $3,500 on charges of conducting an illegal bingo game and operating a gambling house. The jail then released Lesko.
USelone C. Zitello, 86, of North Brockway Avenue, Youngstown. Common pleas Judge Jack Durkin called the jail Saturday evening and allowed Zitello to be released on his own recognizance on a charge of conducting an illegal bingo game.
The three hired Youngstown attorney Don L. Hanni Jr., who said he made some calls to get his clients released from jail before their arraignment Monday in Judge Milich's court. Trial has been set for Jan. 10.
"They should have had a license -- granted -- but do they look like criminals?" Hanni said Monday. "Two are senior citizens. Why not just issue them a summons? Why make a big raid out of it?"
For 2001, the K. of C. generated $140,403 in proceeds and, after expenses, netted $2,303, records show.
Bingo operations can claim as expenses bingo prizes, rent, security, bingo supplies and equipment, advertising and, if their tax status permits, instant pull-tab purchases.