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Gaming law charges against Legion dismissed

February 03, 1998

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

Administrative Law Judge Dale McCloud has dismissed gaming violations filed against the Williamsport American Legion in 1996.

In his Jan. 21 ruling, McCloud said he based his ruling on the comprehensive record-keeping procedures used by the club, describing them as "convincing and reliable."

The delay on the decision stemmed from several court proceedings that ended in mid-1997 when the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed a Washington County Circuit judge's ruling that it was unconstitutional for administrative law judges to decide tip jar gambling cases in civil proceedings.

The gaming case revolved around a complaint brought by two Legion members in 1996 who alleged they had tip jar tickets that proved the club sold unreported tip jars.

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In response to that claim, the commander, administrator and a bartender from the Williamsport American Legion all testified May 17, 1996, that the club violated no Washington County Gaming Commission regulations.

Explaining his decision, McCloud said key testimony at the hearing came from Petra Stambaugh, then the bookkeeper/administrator at the Legion.

Stambaugh said that when she couldn't find a match in her 1995 records, she went back to the 1994 records and found the serial number that matched the women's holders. And that number matched a jar that was legally sold on Oct. 27, 1994, nine months before the gaming regulations went into effect.

Kathy Sterling, director of the Washington County Gaming Commission, testified she checked and found that serial number on the two tickets came back on a batch of tip jar tickets sold to the Williamsport Legion by a licensed wholesaler sometime after July 1994.

Evidence indicated it was sold to the two women after the gaming regulations went into effect in July 1995, Sterling said.

Four officials had been cited for one count each of failure to report a tip jar on an opening inventory, selling a jar without a required gaming sticker and failure to report a tip jar on a quarterly report.

Had the citations been upheld, a fine of $1,500 and a 15-day suspension had been recommended by the commission for each infraction.

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