'Diner guy' sentenced in money conviction


Eugene J. Modell, a reputed big-time sports bookmaker who escaped prosecution in a state criminal case last year, has been sentenced to five months in federal prison and six months on home monitoring on a federal money-structuring charge.

Modell, one of the so-called "Diner guys" made famous by the Barry Levinson movie, "Diner," received the split sentence on Monday from Judge Frederic N. Smalkin in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

The defendant pleaded guilty earlier to one count of structuring nearly $200,000 in cash deposits at various Equitable Bank branches in 1987 and 1988 to avoid federal reporting requirements.

Federal regulations require currency transaction reports on cash deposits of $10,000 or more on deposits. But prosecutor Geoffrey R. Garinther said Modell directed an associate, Sam "Rail" Konick, to make 19 deposits of $9,000 or $9,500 each in the bank to avoid the reports, called CTRs.

The source of the money was not clear from court records.

But Modell was alleged in a state criminal case in Baltimore last year to be the ringleader of $5 million-a-year sports-bookmaking and loan-sharking ring that purportedly operated out of a package store and restaurant Modell operated.

Modell escaped prosecution in that case because of a foul-up in the state's attorney's office caused by the six-month disappearance of a critical court file.

Judge Gary Bass eventually threw out the case, which included evidence gathered in the state's first cellular telephone wiretap in 1988.

Richard M. Karceski, Modell's defense lawyer in both cases, on Monday said that his client had made the structured deposits to amass money to pay his income taxes.

"Ironically, we have a man who's going to jail for trying to pay his taxes," Karceski said.

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