www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bal-md.ar.slots25feb25,0,3063238.story

baltimoresun.com

Fraud charges in slots petition referred to state prosecutor's office

Cordish trying to block attempt to call referendum

By Nicole Fuller | nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

February 25, 2010

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The Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office said Wednesday it has referred allegations of fraud lodged by the developer of the state's largest slots parlor against the county elections board to the Office of the State Prosecutor.

"Our office reviewed the allegations, and the serious nature of those allegations led us to refer the allegations to the state prosecutor's office," said Kristen Fleckenstein, a state's attorney spokeswoman.

Deputy State Prosecutor Thomas "Mike" McDonough declined to comment.

Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. sued the board Tuesday in county Circuit Court claiming "massive fraud" in the efforts by the group, Citizens Against Slots at the Mall, to get a referendum onto the November ballot and alleging that the elections board has ignored the alleged improprieties. The suit contends that the petition is "riddled with fraudulent signatures."

Cordish plans to build a 4,750-seat slots parlor on the parking lot of Arundel Mills mall, an action approved by the County Council in December.

The suit was highly critical of FieldWorks, the company hired to collect signatures. FieldWorks spokesman Steve Rabinowitz said Wednesday that the allegations against his company's workers were "fabricated" and "ridiculous."

"FieldWorks takes any suggestion of fraudulent activity very seriously, and we are prepared to vigorously refute every allegation in this bogus lawsuit," he said.

Heather Ford, president of Citizens Against Slots at the Mall, said Wednesday that her group filed a formal complaint with the elections board alleging that pro-slots forces have participated in "ongoing harassment" against those who signed the petition.

The elections board has until March 8 to certify the 18,790 signatures required to get the referendum on the ballot.