High-end gambling ring busted in Brunswick, police say

By Darren Fishell, Times Record
Posted July 24, 2012, at 2:29 p.m.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — On certain evenings, for several months, sharply dressed men in high-end cars were among those pulling into the parking lot at 14 Thomas Point Road for what Maine State Police allege was a lounge hosting illegal gambling.

Around 8 p.m. on July 2, state police troopers arrived with a search warrant and reportedly discovered around 10 gamblers, according to the lead investigator in the case. State police later summoned two men that they believe organized the operation.

“It was definitely a room designed to carry on this sort of gaming activity,” said Sgt. Michael Zabarsky, an officer with the Maine State Police’s special investigations unit.

Zabarsky said Monday that officers seized as evidence specialty poker chips, playing cards, cash and a surveillance video camera with a monitor inside the gaming room.

That evidence, Zabarsky said, is still being filed with the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office to continue the investigation that began when state police received a tip that illegal gaming was taking place in the building.

The Times Record learned of the investigation and search warrant through an anonymous tip verified Monday by state and local police.

Neighbors and an employee of the tattoo parlor that occupies a portion of the building’s first floor confirmed that high-end cars regularly frequented the building.

“The couple of gentlemen that I did see were wearing a shirt and tie,” said Kristen Moulding, who works at Altered Image Tattoo, regarding nighttime traffic near two garage doors at the rear of the building, which also houses a Beltone hearing aid center.

Following the investigation earlier this month, state police summoned brothers Christopher L. Moulton, 31, and Dennis L. Moulton, 29, on charges of unlawful gaming, a Class D misdemeanor, Zabarsky said.

The elder Moulton said in a telephone interview Monday that there is more to the story and that he has hired lawyers for his defense. However, he declined to detail in full his complaints with the investigation after saying that he challenges the validity of the search warrant.

Zabarsky said that officers did not encounter resistance in executing that search warrant and took statements from several people in the alleged gambling room on July 2.

Brunswick Police Chief Richard Rizzo said Monday that neither Moulton has a history of gambling charges with the department, but that a tip indicating gambling activity at the building surfaced with his department about one month ago.

State police investigators believe that gambling had taken place at the building for “at least several months” and that players — who Zabarsky said are thought to be mostly from the local area — were brought in by private invitations and word-of-mouth.

The investigation will continue until the district attorney reviews the case, and Zabarsky said Monday that he did not know if any others would face charges in connection with the investigation.

Zabarsky said his unit intervened in the case out of concern “that there could be a greater enterprise going on here or a risk of violence due to the cash that is involved.”

The Brunswick Police Department had not yet begun to investigate the tip, Rizzo said, and was notified of the state police’s search warrant just minutes prior to its execution on the night of July 2.

Jim Howard, president and chief executive officer of Priority Group LLC, said Monday that he is in the process of buying the building where the search warrant was executed and has plans to convert it into medical offices. He said that he was unaware of the state police investigation into allegations of illegal gambling there.

“That doesn’t change my plans on buying it, but I need to find out more about what was going on,” Howard said Monday. “There will be no tenants in it when I buy it.”

On June 26, Howard presented the town’s Planning Board with a preliminary sketch of plans to build a 15,000-square-foot addition to the building and a 78-space parking lot on an adjacent 1.2 acres that his company currently owns, according to town records.

County deed records indicate that the building is currently owned by Stephen Sylvester and Cooks Corner Investments LLC.

Howard said that he plans to take ownership of the building in August, but first, “I’ve gotta make some phone calls.”

Reporter Beth Brogan contributed to this report.

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http://bangordailynews.com/2012/07/24/news/midcoast/high-end-gambling-ring-busted-in-brunswick-police-say/ printed on April 25, 2014