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'Out of Control' Gambling at Salem VFW Leads to License Suspension

The Salem Licensing Board imposed a three-day license suspension at their meeting Monday night.

Salem VFW. Patch file photo.
Salem VFW. Patch file photo.

At a crowded Licensing Board meeting Monday night, Det. Sgt. James Page contended that an ABCC complaint suggesting a stalled investigation into illegal gambling at the local VFW was the result of an effort by police to protect the club's manager was "absolutely not true."

"For everyone that is present, that is absolutely not true," Page said, adding that the suggestion that local police were involved in a cover-up "resonated like a cannon to me. It struck me pretty hard." 

Page assured board members that the investigation into gambling at the Witch City Post No. 1524 VFW on Derby Street began in September 2013, when he was contacted by ABCC Special Investigator Caroline Guarino-Wilichoski concerning a complaint.

Guarino-Wilichoski said the first complaint alleged that "there was a lot of car and foot traffic to the VFW and people could be seen carrying in completed football cards." 

The ABCC consented to allow Page to conduct the initial investigation, which he said "included both spot and stationary surveillance of the VFW as well as other investigative strategies." That investigation didn't pan out, Page said, because of "hurdles (officers) couldn't overcome." 

On Dec. 12, Page was again contacted by Guarino-Wilichoski and was advised of a second complaint suggesting that gambling was still taking place and local police were covering for the manager. 

Ten days later, Guarino-Wlichoski accompanied local detectives on an administrative inspection at the VFW and discovered a supply of "football cards" and score sheets as well as customers openly engaged in completing "football cards", evidence of a Super Bowl raffle and "football squares" for an upcoming Patriots game, according to the complaint.

A black backpack, several thousand dollars worth of cash and evidence of gambling seized by police during the inspection were presented to board members at Monday night's meeting.

"What was going on there was way out of control," board member Rick Lee said. "I'm disappointed in your decision-making as a club." 

Following the hearing, board members approved a three-day license suspension as punishment for the club's infractions. Two days will be served on Feb. 18 and Feb. 25. The third day will be held in abeyance.
Michael Whitaker February 11, 2014 at 05:43 AM
They get to choose to close on two Tuesdays?
Jroug February 11, 2014 at 07:08 AM
And they waited until football season was over!!
Sandy Martin February 11, 2014 at 08:30 AM
I don't see why this is a problem. Probably the person who complained did so because they LOST! Football cards...oooohhh! My mental picture is big thugs with baseball bats and black masks...maybe not so much?? I think the police would make better use of their resources going after the purse snatchers and burglars.
Chris February 11, 2014 at 02:54 PM
So the day the ABCC guy walks in he immediately sees evidence of gambling, but in two months of surveillance the Salem PD found nothing? LMAO.
John Dumas February 11, 2014 at 04:52 PM
Why the sneaky terror tactics? Why couldn't the police get a permit at the clerk's office and put it up on the wall?
Merry Christmas February 12, 2014 at 01:30 AM
The worst part is not only the possibily of cronyisms downtown. any opposition or truth against publick officals gets silenced in salem. they cant handle someone speaking there mind or respecting them for it. the liberals will investigate you or destroy not say thank you for what you have to say. after all the veterans gave to let us have them enjoy this right. there is a lot of waste on city boards and state offices. The action here is like hard on for pee herman people working in this state. its sad to see this do they look into bingo to see if there are people smoking or smuggling acholhal. do the publid officials in salem understand they are subject to scrutiny via news blogs and vasts sources of media. I don't know if they realize there very facist and liberal means freedom to live and speak not squash or silence. anyway professionalism is very low in salem and the old patronage of Massachusetts is alive and well. theres people living in public housing in salem working off the books and employees of the housing authority living in public housing wtf is that about.
Mack Mcguffey February 12, 2014 at 11:17 AM
Every club and bar in america has football polls its like bingo
WiseOneDoll February 12, 2014 at 04:24 PM
That's illegal???
Merry Christmas February 12, 2014 at 05:00 PM
im sorry these vets deserve a break and some board people should resign.
John Pajak February 12, 2014 at 11:02 PM
Waste of taxpayer money - EVERY bar, club, office group, etc. has some kind of "pool", particularly for the Super Bowl. Really? Cut the crap - the state lottery takes in billions more and it's legal. But a few people get together for a little fun and it's a crime??? Change the names and the faces, and this is like the mob sending in "enforcers" to get their "cut".

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