Indicted Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney William L. Cowhig "was of overall control and command of the entire operation" of allegedly illegal bingo games conducted by an Explorer Scout troop he helped organize last year, and kept all or part of the profits from the games himself, according to court papers released yesterday.
Additionally, Cowhig, Alexandria's chief prosecutor, "actively participated in the financial management" of another series of bingo games he conducted, according to the papers filed yesterday by Alexandria Special Prosecutor Edward J. White.
The detailed statements are contained in re-indictments of Cowhig returned by a grand jury that White file yesterday in Alexandria Circuit Court, several weeks after a similiar indictment of another bingo figure were successfully challenged as containing insufficient information. The reindictments add no new charges against Cowhig, who has removed himself from office pending disposition of those charges, but provide vivid new details of his alleged illegal gambling activities.
White did not seek to reindict Cowhig on the charge that he asked for and accepted $34,000 worth of bribes from Dirgham Salahi and the Montessori School of Alexandria Inc. which Salahi runs, because that indictment is regarded as containing enough specific information to withstand any legal challenges, according to a knowledgeable source.
White also obtained reindictments against George Leonard Berry, William H. Fields, James Fike, and Alva Ford Thompson on the same illegal gambling charges of which they had formerly been accused.
On May 13, 1977, and for three days afterwards, Cowhig "did personally initiate the establishment of . . . bingo games and did manage, coordinate, and supervise said bingo games, and was in overall control and command of the entire operation" of the games run on behalf of Scouting U.S.A., the youth group he had helped establish, according to the papers.
Cowhig was not authorized under Virginia law to conduct bingo games for his own profit "inasmuch as he is not now, nor was he ever, a charitable, nonprofit organization," which alone are allowed to conduct such games, the reindictment states.
Additionally, the group itself was not authorized to conduct bingo games because it "had not been in existence for a period of two years prior to the (start) of the games," as is required by law, according to the papers.
"Cowhig did allow a part or all of the gross receipts to inure personally to him and to his benefit . . . and did personally profit from the sale of gambling devices known as 'tear tabs,'" which are both violations of the Virginia gambling laws, the re-indictment charges. No specific amount of money is mentioned in the charges.
Cowhig, who has pleaded innocent, said during an interview last May that the Explorer Scout games netted only a $40 profit, and that the games were legal because the national scouting organization had been established in Alexandria for decades.
From March 1, 1977, through Jyly 30, 1977, the reindictment alleges, Cowhig "personally" helped establish bingo games on behalf of B and J Specialties Inc., a firm owned by his friend and former law client, James Fike, who also has been indicted. Cowhig "did personally supervise and direct numerous aspects of the operation and management" of the B and J games, the reindictment charges.
Cowhig also "actively participated in the financial management" of the B and J games, the papers charge, although the alleged specifics of his participation were not stated.
Several weeks ago Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Wiley Wright, Jr. threw out an illegal gambling indictment against George Leonard Berry on grounds that the indictment stated a conclusion rather than a series of facts. The reindictments yesterday of Cowhig, Berry, Fields, Fike and Thompson were in apparent answer to Wright's opinion that the original indictments were "fatally flawed" because of their brevity.