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Tim Representing Eagles Member In Gambling Trial this Week

Enclosed is an article today from Portland Press Herald writer David Hench about a trial I am in this week. I represent the former President of the Eagles Club in Portland who is accused of 4 Counts of Aggravated Unlawful Gambling in the Cumberland County Superior Court. Following is the Press Herald article:
Two members of Eagles club go on trial
By DAVID HENCH, Staff Writer October 7, 2008
The trial of two members of the Portland Eagles charged with felony gambling will resume today, after Monday's opening arguments and jury selection.
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, paid a $60,000 fine and agreed to hold no games of chance for one year.
After the guilty plea by the Portland Eagles, prosecutors obtained indictments for 10 club members and some current or former club officers. Most of those cases have been resolved, said lawyer Tim Zerillo, who represents defendant Martin Piacitelli.
Richard S. Brichetto, 63, and Piacitelli, 54, are each charged with four counts of aggravated unlawful gambling, a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine – though a conviction probably would not result in the more severe range of penalties.
Brichetto was chairman of the board of directors that oversees the club, and Piacitelli was the president.
The charges allege that on four different occasions, the men received more than $1,000 within a 24-hour period from a gambling scheme or enterprise.
Zerillo said there is no evidence or any allegation that his client profited personally from the video gaming. He will try to persuade the jury that his client did not have control over the poker machines.
"They have to prove he had control over the poker machines, and that he didn't do anything" to stop their use for gambling, Zerillo said.
He also said that on the days identified in the indictment, his client either wasn't there or Armstrong was the only one gambling.
"They believe they have done nothing wrong, and they are willing to stand up to government, even in the face of four felonies, and say that," Zerillo said.
Video poker machines themselves are not illegal as long as the players are not able to wager money on the results. The machines are a popular attraction at some fraternal organizations, which also run other legitimate games of chance, with the proceeds earmarked for charity.
The detective said he watched members insert cash into the video poker machines, then alert the bartender when they had accumulated credits. Winning hands would yield credits, which could be cashed in for 25 cents per credit.
Armstrong said he saw many people insert $10 or $20 into the machines and later cash in credits.
The trial is expected to be completed this week.
Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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