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Mobtown Beat

Hold All Cards

Poker Investigation Remains Open, 6 Months After Charles Village Raid

By Van Smith | Posted 10/24/2007

When the Baltimore Police Department raided a poker game held at an end-of-row house at 3101 N. Calvert St. in Charles Village last April ("Game Over," Mobtown Beat, May 9), about two dozen people who had been gambling there were told by the officers to expect criminal charges to be filed against them. It appears that charges have yet to be filed, though BPD spokeswoman Nikki Monroe on Oct. 19 said "that is still an open investigation. Whatever [the BPD vice squad is] doing at this point is part of something larger."

BPD told City Paper last spring that a police report of the April 19 raid could not be located, but the department now says the report remains confidential because of the ongoing investigation. The sergeant in charge of the investigation, Craig Gentile, has since retired from the BPD and did not respond to voice messages left at his new job at the Aberdeen Police Department in Harford County. The investigation focused on the "Greek Game," a regular poker event at the Charles Village house that billed itself on the internet as a charity fundraiser, though there is no evidence that any of the proceeds went to charities.

City Paper has been in touch by e-mail with several players who were detained the night of the raid. Their contact information was on a Greek Game membership list of 242 players, which was obtained by City Paper shortly after the raid. All write that they have not been contacted by BPD since the raid, nor have they received court notice of any charges. Several of the players also say they had cash taken from them as evidence.

"I did lose approx. 200 [dollars] from out of my pocket and have yet to receive any correspondence, citations, etc.," writes one of the players, whose first name is Brian. (City Paper agreed to use only the first names of the players, since they have not been charged.) "I am not really worried about the 200 as I would rather let sleeping dogs lie."

Another player, named Bryan, writes: "I was completely oblivious to the illegality of the event. It was promoted, rather publicly, as a charitable game. I apologize to the [BPD] and the taxpayers of Baltimore for my complete and utter ignorance to the facts and the law. I happily forfeit the money confiscated from me by the [BPD] to the City of Baltimore." Bryan adds that $100 of his money was seized that night.

"It's been some time now since the raid on the Charles Village game," writes a player who uses the handle CharlesVillagePlayer, "and I haven't heard a thing from the BPD. The lead police officer that night said players were facing six months in jail and a $1,000 fine."

Yet another player, Justin, recalls that the police "took our money, copied our [driver's] license information, had us stand against a white wall upstairs to take a Polaroid, then sent us on our way. Perhaps you can help me obtain my money back?"

The BPD's Monroe says that she's not surprised the players have had no further contact with the police about the raid, any pending charges, or any ongoing investigation. "I wouldn't expect that any of those guys would hear anything more from us," she says, adding that "the incident was over with the raid, and that was that."

Regarding the seized cash, Monroe says that "anything that you have on you when you are where something illegal is going on is subject to be seized. Once the investigation is closed, then [BPD] would let them know, and they can claim the seized property." As for the possibility of criminal charges being filed against them, Monroe adds that "I'm very sure these [players] are nervous, but I just don't know what's going to happen. I'll let you know as soon as something does."

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Fall Guys : Two Greektown Poker Robbery Suspects Sentenced, Third Goes Free 5/30/2007

Game Over : Police Raid Charles Village Poker Game 5/9/2007

Odd Man Out : Man Acquitted of Greektown Poker Robbery After Co-Defendants Plead Guilty 4/4/2007

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