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Process for tip jar cases to change

June 23, 1997

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has reversed a Washington County Circuit judge's ruling that it is unconstitutional for administrative law judges to decide tip jar gambling cases in civil proceedings.

Thursday's ruling clears the way for Administrative Law Judge Dale McCloud to rule on a number of Williamsport American Legion gambling citations stemming from two hearings in May 1996.

More importantly, it brings into focus the whole process of deciding gambling violations civilly rather than criminally, said Washington County Gaming Commission attorney Bill Schildt.

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"The decision upholds the process of having these cases heard by administrative law judges and not in the Washington County District Court,'' Schildt said.

Legion attorney Wiley Rutledge said he had no comment.

A spokesman at the Legion in Williamsport said club officers also had no comments.

McCloud, who had reserved his ruling on the Williamsport Legion case pending the outcome of the appeal, heard testimony May 18, 1996.

The commander, administrator and a bartender at the Williamsport American Legion testified the club violated no Washington County Gaming Commission rules and regulations.

But two club members testified that they had tip jar tickets that proved the club sold unreported tip jars.

Doris Slayman and Helen Glesner testified they were at the Williamsport club on a Thursday afternoon at the end of July or early August 1995 and bought a number of tip jar tickets.

When the women went back to see if the tickets were winners, they were told by a bartender and later by the commander that the serial numbers didn't match any jars that had been sold at the club in 1995, according to testimony.

Eventually the women contacted Kathy Sterling, coordinator of the Washington County Gaming Commission.

Sterling testified May 18 she checked and found that serial numbers on the two tickets came back on a batch of tip jar tickets sold to the Williamsport Legion by a licensed wholesaler after July 1994.

Williamsport American Legion, Post 202, was cited in late January and four officials of the club were named - Richard L. Renner, Robert Bennett, Stoyan Russell and Charles E. Morris.

Each man was cited on one count each of failure to report a tip jar on opening inventory, selling a jar without a required gaming sticker and failure to report a tip jar on quarterly report.

A fine of $1,500 and a 15-day suspension was recommended by the commission for each infraction.

Testimony from the Legion representatives indicated the women's tickets were from tip jars sold long before the gaming regulations were enacted last July and not after that date, as the women contended.

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