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With scrutiny, play resumes at poker club

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Staff report


Club Infiniti in the MetroPlex Hotel and Convention Center, Belmont Avenue, has reopened — and township police are watching.

“We’ll do what we’re going to do,” said Police Chief Rich Tisone about the club’s poker room. He declined to be specific, though, about what action will be taken and when.

The private poker club is open to the public and charges a $25 membership free and $25 daily-use fee. The club opened last month and then closed voluntarily. It reopened Sunday.

Tisone cited the Ohio Revised Code and the section on gambling. A portion reads: “No person shall receive any commission, wage, salary, reward, tip, donation, gratuity or other form of compensation, directly or indirectly, for operating or assisting in the operation of any game of chance.”

Robert Johnson, Girard city prosecutor, said the club owners receive earnings from a business that involves playing of poker — meaning it is illegal.

The poker club opened April 16 with its zoning and building-occupancy permits in order, according to township attorney Mark Finamore.

Tisone met with the club’s owners, Kevin Forestal of Liberty and C.J. McCormick of Girard, on April 22 and told them the club would be shut down and anyone inside would be charged with illegal gambling if it reopened.

The owners closed the club voluntarily but filed legal action, asking Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to prohibit the police department from filing criminal charges against the club, closing it, or revoking the club’s occupancy permit or zoning permit.

Judge Peter Kontos ruled April 30 that he does not have the authority to prevent a police department or other government body from filing criminal charges. He dismissed the club’s complaint.