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Quick and Dirty

Barely Illegal

By Van Smith | Posted 1/11/2006

On Thursday, Jan. 5, Baltimore City District Court Judge Nathan Braverman was prepared to hear arguments in a poker case arising from a Nov. 10 police raid on the Aces High Club on Harford Road. But the case was postponed until Feb. 14 once it became clear that the trial would last a full day. Assistant state’s attorney Patricia Deros indicated to Braverman that the defendants—Vicki Lynn Mengel, a 35-year-old Southwest District city police officer, 33-year-old Michael James Stewart of Bel Air, 26-year-old Towson resident Joshua Timothy Barley, and 43-year-old John Anthony Allen of Rosedale—may be offered plea deals in the interim. In a separate case, Barley also faces charges for being a poker dealer at the Owls Nest, another illegal poker club that was raided Nov. 2 (“Fouled Nests,” Nov. 23). He is scheduled for trial in that case Jan. 27.

Prior to the rescheduling, Mengel’s defense attorney, Clarke Ahlers, outlined his defense to the judge. He called the raid a case of “selective prosecution,” and said enforcement of poker laws in general is “arbitrary and discriminatory” because the state’s anti-gambling statute is “vague.” Ahlers pointed out that public officials’ comments to the media—including one made by Deros in a Sun article—suggested they believe that enforcing poker laws is a waste of resources. Stephen Prevas, who represented the rest of the defendants, quipped outside the courtroom that “poker might be legal” by the time the case goes to trial, because the state legislature, which convenes its 2006 session Jan. 11, may act quickly to change the laws.

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Hold All Cards : Poker Investigation Remains Open, 6 Months After Charles Village Raid 10/24/2007

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