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CRIME 4 to be arraigned on gambling charges



Published: Mon, February 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



No representatives of the charities were at the event, police said.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Despite a letter hand-delivered by a vice cop that explained how to legitimately operate a gambling event for charity, a caterer for the ITAM club didn't read it, police said.

Members of the Vice Squad and agents from the Ohio Department of Public Safety who checked out a Texas Hold'em card tournament at the private club at 113 S. Meridian Road on Saturday issued four citations.

Those charged with operating a gambling house were due in municipal court today for arraignment. If convicted, they face up to six months in jail and $1,000 fine.

Charged

They are:

U Diana Endress, 51, of Ruby Court. She described herself to police as caterer for the building and said she thought the card tournament was a good way to raise money for two charities, Potter's Wheel and Special Olympics. She told police that there was a $100 buy-in for the event, with 85 percent going to the winners and 15 percent to the charities. She acknowledged that no representatives of the charities were at the event. Lt. Rod Foley, Vice Squad commander, said Endress acknowledged that a letter had been delivered the day before the tournament that explained how to operate charitable gambling but she didn't bother to read it.

URonald J. Francisco, 41, of Hermosa Drive. He told police that he was in charge of the game and was not an ITAM member or representative for the charities. He estimated that 95 players had signed up to play in the tournament, which brought in $9,500, police said.

UJason Vantell, 31, of Afton Avenue, Boardman. He told police that he was not a member of the club, was unaware whom they were raising money for and had been asked by Francisco to help operate the game.

UDavid Blasko, 34, of Lucerne Lane. He told police he was not a member of the club or acting on behalf of the charities and had been asked by Francisco to help out. Blasko said his role was to help count the money.

Tournament flier

Foley said in his report that he received a flier for the tournament in his office mail and noted the flier didn't state which charitable organizations would benefit. He sent Patrolman Ron Jankowski to the club Friday, the day before the event, with a letter that explained the charitable gambling laws.

Foley said he saw an advertisement in The Vindicator that announced the card tournament with a cash bar.

He said a cash bar was a violation of the ITAM club's liquor permit, which allows it to sell only to members.

Once inside the club Saturday afternoon, Foley and an agent from the Ohio Department of Public Safety each bought a draft beer for $1.50. The bartender did not check to see if they were members of the club, reports show.

Police saw roughly 100 people inside the banquet area with cups of beer.

Foley said in his report that the players' money was returned. Gambling evidence collected included poker chips.




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