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Felony Gambling Case Dismissed During Trial

Yesterday I blogged that I was in trial on a felony Aggravated Unlawful Gambling case. In my view, the State had no evidence of my client's control over the video poker machines or that he ever received one dime from them. In a rare (and brave) move, the presiding justice threw the entire case out with prejudice based on a discovery violation, and our clients walked out of court, free men.

Here is a link to the News Report on the dismissal from WCHS Channel 6 (NBC):

http://www.wcsh6.com/video/default.aspx?maven_playerId=immersiveplayer&maven_referralPlaylistId=cafdb934628059c18e26dd9a027efa9126a37983&maven_referralObject=881300549

Here is a copy of the Portland Press Herald article by David Hench:

Felony gambling case dismissed against former Eagles' officers

The prosecutors' failure to share evidence is called an 'egregious' violation.

By DAVID HENCH, Staff Writer

October 8, 2008

The felony gambling case against two former officers of the Portland Eagles was dismissed Wednesday after prosecutors failed to share all their evidence for the case with the defense.

Defense lawyers said that Superior Court Justice Roland Cole dismissed the charges against Richard S. Brichetto, 63, and Martin Piacitelli, 54, calling the failure of the prosecution to share all of its evidence before trial an "egregious" violation of discovery rules.

The charges stem from a 2004 undercover operation in which Maine State Police Detective David Armstrong infiltrated the club at 184 St. John St. and said he was able to watch club members collecting payoffs when they won at video poker. The case culminated in a raid on Jan. 14, 2006, when police seized $23,000 as well as video machines and records.

Prosecutors won an indictment against the club itself in 2006, and the entity entered a guilty plea, forfeited $23,000 and paid a $60,000 fine.

The state then went after members of the club, winning indictments against 10 members, including Brichetto, who was chairman of the club's board of directors, and Piacitelli, who was club president. All of the others reached plea agreements that led to the charges' being filed without disposition with the agreement that they would not become officers in any other fraternal organization, attorneys said.

"Neither one of these guys had any more power than the other guys that were indicted," said Piacitelli's lawyer, Tim Zerillo. "We never understood why they were singled out."

To win its case, the state would have had to prove that Brichetto and Piacitelli received more than $1,000 in gambling revenue in a 24-hour period, the requirement for the Class B charge of aggravated unlawful gambling, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

One state witness described how he used the club's records to conclude how much the two defendants had taken in. Under cross-examination by Daniel Lilley, Brichetto's lawyer, it was revealed that those records had not been made available to the defense.

"They had boxes of stuff they held back," Lilley said after the dismissal.

Lilley said the case against the two former officers was weak at the outset.

"This case was going nowhere fast. There was no evidence. It was guilt by association," he said.

Both Lilley and Zerillo said their clients were not in a position to oversee or promote the use of video gambling machines for money.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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