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Gambler gets 18 months for bad checks

May 17, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

While Kenneth Brian Pereschuk vowed Wednesday to pay back the $4,277 in bad checks he wrote during a two-week gambling binge at the Williamsport Red Men's Club, he will first have to spend some time in jail.

Pereschuk was sentenced to 18 months in jail by Washington County Circuit Judge Donald Beachley, who ordered him to participate in the Jail Substance Abuse Program.

"There is an interest to make restitution but justice is for you to spend some time in jail," Beachley said. "My concern is your alcoholism."

It was an alcohol relapse that triggered last spring's 15-day gambling spree that prompted Beachley to ask the private club for an explanation of how Pereschuk was able to write more than two dozen checks in such a short period of time.

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On Wednesday, Beachley mentioned a letter from the Red Men's Club explaining that they have about 11 bartenders who may not have realized how many checks were being written.

Red Men House Committee Chairman Ernest C. Unger said in April that the club now sends a letter to a member who cashes a bad check and gives the member 10 days to make the check good.

If that isn't done, a second letter is sent and the member is put on a bad check list. Membership can be suspended and prosecution is possible, Unger said.

Pereschuk, 38, of 20109 Leitersburg Pike, pleaded guilty to one count of felony check/scheme, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

According to court records, Pereschuk cashed 26 checks ranging in value from $77 to $200 at the club between March 20 and April 5, 1999, in exchange for membership privileges, specifically gambling on tip jars.

All the checks were on the Bulldog Federal Credit Union and were returned marked nonsufficient funds, court records said.

Washington County State's Attorney Kenneth Long said the Red Men's Club is seeking full restitution, including $650 in bad check charges, for a total of $4,927.

Pereschuk's background includes a 1980 forgery conviction and a 1999 theft in Baltimore for which he was still on probation.

Beachley learned Wednesday that marital problems were the source of the alcohol relapse and gambling binge.

Now employed by Buck's Pizza, Pereschuk agreed to pay $200 a month while on work release from the Washington County Detention Center.

"I've been praying every day that I wouldn't go to jail so I could keep my job," Pereschuk said. "God has delivered me from alcohol."

Long said the Jail Substance Abuse Program has a track record that could be reinforcement for a person who has had a relapse.

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