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Poker News: January 5th, 2011

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Copyright © Journal Gazzette

HEADLINE: White draws probation for Poker Palace

There is not much left of White’s School of the Arts Community Development Programs, a non-profit that operated out of the old Village Woods Middle School.

And Ralph White’s attempt to pump money into the program, through an illegal gambling operation, led to a suspended prison sentence and two years on probation for convictions of corrupt business influence and unlawful charity gaming contracting.

Before he was sentenced Friday, White told Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck he did not personally profit from what was known as the Parnell Poker Palace, and he hadn’t intended to commit “social suicide” by running into legal troubles.

“I have hurt and I have failed those people I tried to help,” he said.

White was one of five men arrested in connection with an investigation into the casino, which operated at 4608 Parnell Ave. from December 2008 to June 2009. The gambling hall was operated by White, 56, Charles I. Keller, 68, and Larry L. York, 47, in a building owned by George Kotsopoulos, 52.

Also charged was Edward Miers, 42, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced Friday to a year of unsupervised probation on a misdemeanor charge in relation to the case.

Keller was sentenced to three years’ probation this month after he pleaded guilty to unlawful charity gaming contracting.

Kostspoulos pleaded guilty to his role and was sentenced to a year and a half of probation. York is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

White’s non-profit offered educational and athletic programs, including martial arts, theater and a health clinic, White said Friday.

For a while, White’s School of the Arts was a “qualified organization,” allowing it to obtain an annual charity game night license.

At the time, Indiana law allowed non-profit groups and charitable and fraternal organizations to obtain a license to sponsor gambling events for charity.

State lawmakers amended the laws concerning charity gambling, making licenses available only to veteran and fraternal organizations.

When it was open, visitors to Parnell Poker Palace could play poker, craps, roulette and blackjack three days a week from noon to 3 a.m.

White, Keller and York recruited and hired dealers and pit bosses and paid them cash, according to court documents.

They enlisted “investors” to help finance the Poker Palace and split the revenue between themselves and White’s School of the Arts.

State law forbids anyone from being paid a salary at a charity gaming facility, and all proceeds from the games must be used by the qualified organization for charitable purposes. The rent charged to the casino must not be based on the proceeds from any event.

White said he tried to get out of the arrangement with the other men when he became aware of how it was operating. He said he was “relieved to comply” with state gaming officials and the police in order to end what he called the “nightmare of greed” the casino was becoming.

But Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Tim McCaulay said White was the representative of the charity and nothing would have happened with the casino without White’s involvement and direct participation.

The dealers were being paid by White’s School of the Arts, McCaulay said.

After the hearing, White said he was glad the case was over.

“I did nothing to try to hurt the community or the people I’ve been an advocate for,” he said.

His attorney, Donald James, said despite White’s intentions to help the school, which has ceased operations, the case was a reminder that “all that glitters is not gold.”

Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on January 5th, 2011

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