Police who raided an illegal poker tournament at the Owl's Nest in South Baltimore have filed gambling charges against the club's co-managers, as well as a security guard, two barmaids and a number of card dealers.
Club co-manager Joseph A. Cary, 51, of Pasadena was charged with 19 counts of illegal gaming and gambling stemming from the Nov. 2 raid. And co-manager Gerald C. Dickens, 65, of Bowie was charged with 25 counts of illegal gaming and gambling.
The men were also charged with two counts each of illegal liquor sales and possession. The Owl's Nest, a private club located in the 1800 block of Worcester St., sold liquor but did not have a liquor license, according to police.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Cary said he did not break the law. He said he was just an investor in the Owl's Nest and that he thought the poker tournament was legal as long as some proceeds went to charity. He said he did not know that state law prohibits wagering on poker - without exception.
The event was advertised as a charity poker tournament, and many of those who played that night also said they believed they were not breaking the law.
"Sure I'm going to fight the charges," Cary said. "I'm getting a top-dog attorney."
Cary also owns a vending machine business called Statewide Amusements. He said his bank accounts have been raided recently by the state comptroller's office, which is going after him for about $1 million in unpaid business taxes.
During the raid, police confiscated $25,655 - $6,630 of which came from Cary's pocket. He wants the money returned because he says it is personal cash that had no ties to the Owl's Nest.
According to court records, Cary has had other run-ins with the law. In 2003, he served 10 days in jail for gambling charges related to a video poker raid at a fraternal lodge in Waldorf. In 1997, he was charged with possession of marijuana and in 1982 he was charged with arson. Both charges were dropped.
Despite his previous brushes with the law, Cary maintains that he's a law-abiding citizen.
"I'm no gangster, hon," he said.
Dickens could not be reached for comment.
The Owl's Nest charges were filed in court Wednesday, but not before police had a chance to meet with a representative of the city state's attorney's office to make sure they filed the criminal charges correctly. Police cited 80 poker players for participating in the illegal poker tournament after the November raid. But the citations were dismissed a few days later by prosecutors who said police used the wrong subsection of the law.
Cary, Dickens and the others charged this week were not among the 80 charged the night of the Nov. 2 raid.
Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for city State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, said that a member of the police vice squad met with Assistant State's Attorney Patricia Deros to go over charging documents before they were filed at Eastside District Court.
The fact that the judicial officer processed the charges is a sure sign that they were cited correctly, Burns said.
Police Sgt. Craig Gentile, who organized the Owl's Nest raid, said he was confident the charges were correct this time.
"Oh, yes, they are going to stick," he said.
Charges were filed against the following suspects in connection with the raid, court records show: Barry Lee Boone, 48, of Westminister, a retired Howard County police officer who acted as security guard and cashier; Heidi Lynn Cary, 25, of Pasadena, Joseph Cary's daughter, who was acting as a barmaid; and Jill Renee Overcash, 24, of Pasadena, who was also serving drinks.
In addition, those who police say were card dealers were: Phyllis Jean Dotzenrod, 52, of Monrovia; Sang Ho Yi, 22, of Ellicott City; Shinna Yoo, 22, also of Ellicott City; Bruce Herbert Voge III, 27, of Cockeysville; William Ray Williams Sr., 58, of Bowie; Maurice Assaraf, 42, of Rockville; Amy Kumina Yoo, 19, of Ellicott City; Paula Diatsintos, 54, of Clarksburg; Joshua Timothy Barley, 26, of Towson; and Hae Kwang Lee, 32, of Dunn Loring, Va.
All 15 defendants were summoned to appear at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at the John R. Hargrove Sr. District Court & Multi-Service Center at 700 E. Patapsco Ave.
Attempts to reach the other defendants were unsuccessful.
Cary said the Owl's Nest has been closed since the raid but that he hopes to reopen it soon as a strip club. Cary said the new venture would be his alone.