Friday, January 30, 2009

Native American Widsom

"The American Indian is of the soil, whether it be the region of forests, plains, pueblos, or mesas. He fits into the landscape, for the hand that fashioned the continent also fashioned the man for his surroundings. He once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers; he belongs just as the buffalo belonged..."

Luther Standing Bear (1868? - 1939)
Oglala Sioux Chief

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cheerleading coach convicted in gambling trial -

Cheerleading coach convicted in gambling trial - "judge convicted the owner of a children's cheerleading club Tuesday of six gambling charges stemming from allegations she used proceeds from a bingo fundraiser to repay a parent who had bailed her out of jail.
Anna L. Miles, 35, of Hagerstown was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay a fine and court costs totaling $1,000. The misdemeanor charges each carried a maximum one-year jail term.
'I'm just glad it's over,' Miles said as she walked from the Washington County courtroom into the arms of supporters. But because of the convictions, Miles now faces the prospect of more than nine years in prison for violating her earlier probation for writing bad checks on the Hagerstown Heat All-Stars' account.
The gambling charges raised ticklish issues in Washington County, where local fire-and-rescue companies have customarily held bingo and pull-tab events to help fund youth sports teams and charitable groups. Although state law permits fire-and-rescue companies to hold gambling events, they are supposed to use all proceeds to fund their operations."


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Lottery offers $20,000 bonanza for ticket vendors

January 08, 2009 at 2:05PM AKST
The lucky person who wins the state’s first $500,000 lottery on Jan. 9 may not be the only one in the money.
The organization or person that sells the winning ticket could pocket $20,000.
Ticket vendors in some 30 Alaska communities — including restaurants, pull-tab parlors and big-city strip joints — had a choice. They could earn $1 for every ticket they sold, or take a shot at winning their own mini-bonanza, an option several vendors have chosen, according to organizer Abe Spicola.
The dog mushing association in Kotzebue is aiming for the vendors’ prize, said manager Leanne Viveiros. It sold about 1,700 tickets in less than a month, so it will miss out on about $1,700.
But it could take home thousands more if the winning ticket came out of its pull-tab parlor, she said. The money would probably be used to help boost purses in the weekly sled dog races the group sponsors, including its flagship contest, the Kobuk 440.
“It will be a good, extra boost for the club with our upcoming dog races,” Viveiros said.
Ticket sales have sizzled throughout Alaska, including in rural communities.
Out there, the gaming tradition is strong because tribal governments, cities and nonprofit groups use earnings from pull-tab sales and bingo nights to help pay for community services, said Joseph Koss, a tax auditor for the state’s gaming division.
The revenue helps village governments pay police or other employees, power and heat buildings or help needy families buy stove oil, funeral services or medical flights to city hospitals, he said.
“In some cases it can provide almost the entire revenue for a governmental agency (in a village),” he said.
Spicola, the lottery organizer, said he wanted to make sure rural Alaska residents were included in the lottery because of their strong interest in gaming. He also thought it important to give people across the state a chance to win.
“You should have a right to participate in the state lottery if you live in the Bush,” said Spicola, owner of Lucky Times Pull Tab in Anchorage.
Any person or organization approved by Spicola could be a ticket vendor — a woman from the village of Kivalina in Northwest Alaska sold tickets there — but only a nonprofit or municipality can obtain a state gaming permit.
Hopeful players have scooped up tickets in Dillingham, said Tammy Conahan, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber was one of two outlets selling the tickets in the Southwest Alaska community of 2,400. The chamber only had two weeks to sell, but buyers gobbled up about 1,000 tickets at $5 apiece, she said.
“It took a while for word of mouth to get out, but once it did, it was just huge,” she said. “People were very excited that we finally got something like it.”
The tickets were popular Christmas items, with people buying them as stocking stuffers, she said.
“This is really neat what it’s meant to the whole state,” she said. “The revenue for all the nonprofits, it’s just another avenue for these groups to (raise money) and do things.”
The Dillingham chamber runs the pull-tab parlor to raise money for community events, fund beautification projects like street banners and help pay for advertising to lure tourists, she said.
The civic group skipped the chance for the $20,000 vendors’ prize and decided to earn money for every ticket it sold. It will take home about $1,000, she said.
The money will help pay for the 50th annual Beaver Round-up festival, a March event designed to shake off cabin fever. It stems from area trappers who once convened in Dillingham each spring to see who skinned the biggest beaver, she said.
Conahan said she bought one ticket each for her sister and his husband. They bought her a ticket in return, so she’ll be watching the big drawing closely.
That’s set for Friday night, 7 p.m. at Rum Runners Old Towne Bar in Anchorage, where a “secret, local celebrity” will draw the winning stub out of a huge, custom-made tumbler, Spicola said.
Officials with Channel 2 News in Anchorage have said they will broadcast the drawing live or announce the winner on late-night news, Spicola said.
There could be at least one other winner this year.
To offer the lottery, Spicola teamed up with Standing Together Against Rape, a statewide group providing support to victims of sexual violence. STAR, which has a gaming license, gets 20 percent of the net profit.
Spicola and STAR officials hadn’t expected to make any money in the lottery’s first year, he said.
But sales have been so strong they just might, said Spicola.
“That would be very cool, wouldn’t it?” said Nancy Haag, STAR’s executive director, adding that the money would help pay for community education about sexual violence.
And how about the irony of allowing bars, liquor stores and even strip joints — such as the Crazy Horse in Anchorage — to sell tickets? After all, those places sell the booze that often accompanies sexual violence.
They’re actually great places to educate people about the group, Spicola said.
The tickets show STAR’s name, and organizers have informed the vendors about STAR’s mission so the message can be passed on to ticket buyers.
“It’s good for everyone,” he said. “The bar owners appreciate it. They know there’s help out there if a patron is victimized. STAR is happy because they’re educating people.”
And the contestants know they’re supporting a good cause, he said.
Alex DeMarban can be reached at 907-348-2444 or 800-770-9830, ext. 444.

Friday, January 02, 2009

King: Law still forbids electronic bingo

Is Bingo consider gambling?

The Associated Press • January 2, 2009

GADSDEN -- Attorney General Troy King said electronic bingo machines will be seized if they are brought into Etowah County before the current law governing bingo has been changed or successfully challenged.

"This is not a threat, but a fulfillment of my oath to faithfully execute the laws of this state," King said at a news conference earlier this week with the Etowah Baptist Association.
King said a constitutional amendment allowing bingo in the north Alabama county applies only to traditional paper bingo, and he said electronic bingo is still illegal. But others disagree.
An October ruling by Etowah County Circuit Judge Clark Hall appeared to clear the way for electronic bingo in Etowah County. Some county officials interpreted the ruling to allow the county commission to decide what forms of bingo it wants and who will operate it.
CBS Supply of Mount Pleasant, S.C., and Coosa Entertainment of Rainbow City are working together to try to develop a resort complex with bingo in Etowah County.
King is warning county officials that bringing electronic bingo would be risky.
"Until someone changes the law or says this law means what it doesn't say, we plan to enforce the law as it is written in the constitution of Alabama," King said.
King's visit to Etowah County came one day after Gov. Bob Riley created a task force to investigate gambling statewide and appointed a veteran antigambling prosecutor, former Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber, to lead it. The governor did not include the attorney general on the task force.
Etowah County District Attorney Jimmie Harp said he and County Sheriff Todd Entrekin spoke with Barber on Tuesday morning and requested that Etowah County be his first stop. The sheriff said the topic of the meeting will be the appropriate administration of bingo laws in the county.
Electronic bingo is already offered in several Alabama counties, including the dog tracks in Macon and Greene counties.

Two charged with stealing from Swoyersville Hose Co.

Published: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 4:06 AM EST

SWOYERSVILLE — It was only a matter of time before investigators marked all the boxes in their probe of missing money at the now-defunct Swoyersville Volunteer Hose Co. 1:n A state audit that showed more than $700,000 in unaccounted for funds.n A mother-daughter tandem that had exclusive control for more than six years over the fire company’s revenues from bingo, pull-tab games and fair admissions.n A search of the mother’s home that revealed evidence of her penchant for gambling.
n A financial analysis that determined the daughter and her husband were spending well beyond their means.Bingo.Prosecutors charged Catherine Drago, 77, of Forty Fort and her daughter, Carol Gamble, 46, of Exeter Township on Tuesday with theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception and criminal conspiracy, all third-degree felonies, and other charges.“It doesn’t matter who you are or what stage in life, if you break the law, you must be prosecuted,” District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll said in a statement. “The law must be applied equally to everyone.”Gamble, who served as president of the fire company, and Drago, the treasurer, controlled the proceeds of the company’s bingo and pull-tab games and fair admission since at least 2001, prosecutors said.No one else from the company was allowed to tally, bundle, transport or otherwise handle the money, prosecutors said.According to an audit by the state Bureau of Charitable Organizations, $734,748 of the company’s income between January 2004 and November 2007 is unaccounted for.The Bureau of Charitable Organizations, a division of the state Department of State, initiated the investigation in December 2005, as part of a routine check to determine if the fire company was exempt from registering as a charity.Charities earning more than $25,000 per year are required to register with the bureau.According to the bureau and investigators, Drago provided an incomplete record of the fire company’s finances and later admitted she provided false information on a public disclosure form.The discrepancies led the bureau to widen its probe of the fire company. Eventually, an audit uncovered the company had generated $1,789,529 in revenue between Jan. 1, 2004, and Nov. 14, 2007.Members of the fire company, which dwindled in enrollment in recent years, told investigators Drago or Gamble would deposit all of the company’s cash and checks into the Hose Company Bingo Checking Account at Luzerne National Bank. Of the amount received, $1,054,781 made it to the bank.The rest went missing.Last November, investigators from the state police barracks at Wyoming and the Luzerne County district attorney’s office executed search warrants on Drago’s home on Seminary Place in Forty Fort, Gamble’s home on Lee Lane in Exeter Township and the hose company, at 1 Scott St., Swoyersville. At Drago’s home, investigators found casino courtesy cards from Bally’s, Trump, Claridge, the Tropicana, Hilton, Showboat, Sands and Caesars Atlantic City.Randy Farrence, an auditor with the Bureau of Charitable Organizations, conducted a financial analysis of Gamble and her husband, Darin.Farrence scrutinized the couple’s income and bank records and receipts, as well as bingo records and documents from the fire company and found they “appeared to have cash expenditures that did not correspond to their known sources of income,” investigators said in their affidavit of probable cause.Gamble was arraigned Tuesday before Magisterial District Judge David Barilla in Swoyersville and released on $50,000 unsecured bail.Drago did not appear before Barilla and was said to have been arraigned separately. She remained free on $100,000 unsecured bail.Gamble and her attorney, Joseph Cosgrove, declined to comment. An older man walking with them flashed his middle finger at photographers and reporters outside Barilla’s office, at the Swoyersville Borough Building.Preliminary hearings are scheduled for Jan. 7 in Central Court in Wilkes-Barre.If convicted, Drago and Gamble could face a maximum 38 years in prison; however, similar crimes prosecuted within the last two years in Luzerne County have largely resulted in probation or house arrest and an order to return the missing funds.Robert Pritchard, a former employee of the Luzerne County recorder of deeds, office pleaded guilty in March 2007 to stealing about $50,000 from an office cash register. He was sentenced to six months house arrest and ordered to pay back the funds.Another former employee, Carl Salitis, pleaded no contest in November 2007 to embezzling more than $100,000 from the office. He was sentenced to nine to 18 months house arrest, five years’ probation and ordered to pay back the, 570-821-2061