Judge overturns denial of bingo license


A Circuit Court judge has ruled that the county was wrong in denying renewal of a bingo parlor license to a Florida businessman with alleged ties to organized crime.

Judge Bruce C. Williams decided that the county Board of Appeals improperly applied county codes in denying Stephen Paskind a license to continue operating Bingo World on Belle Grove Road in Glen Burnie.

The county has been trying to get Mr. Paskind out of the business since 1989, when it denied him renewal of his license to operate because of his company's alleged ties to organized crime.

In recent months, federal prosecutors have won convictions in U.S. District Court of Mr. Paskind's associates, who have admitted funneling profits from gambling, loan-sharking, robbery and other enterprises through Bingo World.

Since 1989, Mr. Paskind has been allowed to continue operating the bingo parlor under court order until the appeals process was completed.

In the five-page decision issued last week, Judge Williams said that the "good moral character" clause that the Board of Appeals used to deny Mr. Paskind's renewal only applied to first-time applicants. According to the county code, Mr. Paskind only had to submit an audited financial statement prepared by a certified public accountant for license renewal.

County attorneys said they may appeal Judge Williams' decision.

"We certainly have the right to appeal. We are evaluating that alternative right now," said David Plymyer, deputy county attorney.

He said a decision on the appeal should be reached in the next two weeks.

"The bottom line is, for now, he remains in business," Mr. Plymyer said.

Mr. Paskind will have to apply again for renewal of his license, and the county's position is that he still will have to meet the moral turpitude standard required of all bingo hall operators since a change in the county code in 1990.

Meanwhile, Mr. Paskind has been trying to sell his license to operate Bingo World. A partnership made up of Millersville real estate developer Ernest J. Litty Jr. and four partners in a Baltimore law firm that formerly represented Mr. Paskind has put together a package that would pay him $4.2 million for the license at the rate of $60,000 a month.

But that proposal was rejected last week by the Amusement License Commission, which ruled that Mr. Paskind had no license to transfer to the group. The commission's vote is not binding, but is a recommendation to Inspections and Permits Director Robert Dvorak, who will make his decision in the coming weeks.

Mr. Paskind said yesterday that he was pleased with the court's decision, but that he still hopes to sell his license to the group headed by Mr. Litty.

"My position is exactly the same. We would like to sell and leave," he said.

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