Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said today that he doesn't expect any prosecutions to result from an on-going police investigation of bingo games run by the Annandale Boys Club because "we don't find any violations we can prove."
County police have been investigating the club's five-night-a-week bingo operation in connection with a alleged violations of the state law passed four years ago that raffles and bingo games as the only legalized forms of gambling in Virginia. The club grossed $305,964 last year, according to a report the club filed with the county this week.
County police have probed cash payments that the club makes to workers at the bingo games and leasing arrangements for the Baileys Crossroads bingo hall used by the club. A final report of the investigation is expected to be ready within days, Horan said.
Asked if charges might be filed because of what police investigators have alleged was a consistent pattern of illegal payments to bingo workers, Horan said, "That's a possibility. We haven't totally closed that area, but that's nickle-and-dime stuff. You're talking about kids getting small amounts of money."
The bingo law states that no part of the games' receipts may "inure directly or indirectly to the benefit of any private shareholder, member, agent or employee" of the organization sponsoring the bingo games. Violations of the law are misdemeanors punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and the loss of an organization's bingo operating license for up to three years.
As far as the leasing arrangements for the bingo hall are concerned, Horan said, "They (Annandale Boys Club) did not violate the present law.
According to the financial report field this week the Annandale Boys Club paid $87,858 of its gross receipts to Landlord Investments, Inc., an average of $7,320 a month, for "rent, electric, air-conditioner, janitorial supplies, custodial services, trash collection, maintenance repairs and remodeling." The club cleared $84,226 for its youth sports programs.
Landlord Investments, a corporation formed by Edward L. Hinkle and Robert Gerber, leases the hall from the Row Corp. for $2000 a month including utilities according to officials of the corporation that owns the bingo hall.
Meanwhile the Senate General Laws Committee last night approved a measure that would tighten the existing bingo law in order to prevent alleged abuses such as those that sparked the probe into the Annandale Boys Club bingo operation. As many as 300 people a night have been betting about $15 apiece at the club's games.
The proposed bingo law sponsored by Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William) would require an annual financial report of the bingo operation to be made under oath and then audited by an official of the local government in the jurisdictions where the games are held. The current law does not require that the report be made under oath.
In addition local governments would be empowered to regulate the frequency hours and places where the games are held a power the governments do not now have.
The amended bingo law also states that rent for the bingo halls could not exceed the fair market rental value of the property and could not be based on a percenetage of the bingo games' receipts. Penalties for violation of the bingo law would remain the same.
A grandfather clause included in the Senate committee version of the bill guarantees already-licensed bingo operations that their times, places and frequency of games will not be altered if their licenses do not expire before July 1. 1979, although they could be after that date. The rental restrictions of the bill, however, would go into effect next July 1.
Sens. Adelard L. Brault (D-Fairfax) and James T. Edmunds (D-Luenburg) opposed the grandfather clause. Brault asked Sen. Wiley F. Mitchell (R-Alexandria), who supported the clause, "If there's a cancerous situation here, why don't you want to cut it out?"
Mitchell said the grandfather clause was intended to give "some good people who tried to abide by the law" enough time to readjust their financial obligations that are partly dependent on bingo game revenues.
Mitchell was referring to bingo games run by the Montessori School in Alexandria. That game grossed [WORD ILLEGIBLE] last year, the most of any bingo operation in Northern Virginia, of that mount.$132,263 was paid to the school's account and $16,333 donated to charities.
Mitchell also said the grandfather clause was needed to keep the bill from being killed in the House of Delegates where both he and Colgan expect opposition to it.
Colgan said he expects Edmunds to attack the grandfather clause when the bingo bill is debated by the full Senate. But Colgan said he believes it still will be approved by the Senate.