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Not for slots? Dont' bet on it

July 15, 1997

I see where the Bally's Maryland Inc. gaming company has said it has no intention of locating slot machines in Hagerstown.

The company wants to put an off-track betting parlor on the north end of town perhaps, but "we want to allay any fears that there are going to be slot machines. It's not going to be built for slot machines," said Bally's lobbyist Dennis McCoy.

And we all know we can trust a lobbyist.

Whatever. I've never really understood the big difference between slot machines and tip jars, or tip jars and bingo. You put up money and if you match, you win; it's all pretty much the same.

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But let's figure this out. West Virginia has slots. Delaware has slots. Maryland has slots on the Eastern Shore.

Sooner or later, somebody is going to holler "tax money for education and seniors" and that will be that.

The only remaining mystery is how many times Gov. Parris Glendening changes his mind on the issue in the next session.

***

But the best story of the week comes out of Charles Town, W.Va., where, according to The Herald-Mail, "Mark Johnson told a Jefferson County judge Monday that he never intended to kidnap a Gaithersburg, Md., man because he thought the man was already dead."

Johnson said, "I just want the people to know there was no meditation to kidnap this man. We just thought he was dead. We just thought we were hauling his body."

And he said he was sorry.

Oh. I'll bet that makes the kidnapped guy feel a thousand times better. I'm surprised he didn't tell Johnson "Hey, no harm, no foul."

This is like telling the judge "I really didn't mean to rob the liquor store, I just thought I was murdering the proprietor."

According to testimony, Johnson and his girlfriend lured the man into a hotel room, attacked him, took him for dead and stuffed him into the car.

The next morning they dumped the man, who was playing dead, into the Potomac River.

The judge for his part sentenced Johnson to life in prison plus another 5 to 30 years.

He later said he "intended" to sentence Johnson to six months probation and that he was "sorry."

No, just kidding.

In fact, Johnson had been offered an 80-year plea agreement. But he took a chance on a jury trial and got life, plus a bunch.

"I've seen cases where people shot someone in the head at point blank range and got 2 to 20," he said.

But it was a poor career move.

At least, Johnson said, West Virginia doesn't have the death penalty.

"I could have received a lethal injection. I'm still living; I thank God for that."

For the record, Johnson was convicted of kidnapping, attempted murder (as Sideshow Bob said on "The Simpsons," "What kind of charge is that, does the Nobel committee give prizes for attempted chemistry?"), bringing stolen property into the state, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to bring stolen property into the state.

I suppose I'd be thankful, too.

***

And finally this item from the classified ads a week ago under the hearing "Help-Full Time."

"Adult entertainers, models East Coast Dolls oil wrestling team is looking for upcoming shows. Great pay and a lot of fun. Erotic One Sportswear is currently looking for models to pose for upcoming calendar."

I like the term "models." And "entertainers."

Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions, but somehow I don't think the "oil wrestling team" is Quaker State's derrick summer rec program. But perhaps "models" is to greased girls going at each other in a pit what "off-track betting" is to slots.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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