A wealthy McLean Businessman, whose home had received 162 telephone calls from the residence of a suspected gambler, found himself the target of an areawide sports betting crackdown Sunday afternoon when Fairfax County police swept through his house looking for gambling evidence.
But the supposedly incriminating calls, which Fairfax County police had used as the basis for obtaining a search warrant, were made to his 17-year-old daughter by another teen-ager, according to business man Eugene Martin. And the only gambling paraphernalia seized by the seven policemen who raided the Martin home were race-track programs from a 1978 visit to Shenandoah Downs in West Virginia.
"I have as clean a record as anybody on the face of this earth -- I don't even know where the police department is," Martin said yesterday. "I just can't believe they could issue a search warrant on such flimsy evidence."
Legal authorities said yesterday that federal courts have held that such circumstantial connections as telephone calls alone generally do not constitute the probable cause requred by the 4th Amendment for police to legally search a house.
The search of Martin's home was part of coordinated gambling raids conducted simultaneously at 10 locations by police in Fairfax, Arlington and Montgomery counties, Alexandria and the District of Columbia. In an early afternoon sweep in which police staged a phony fire in Arlington, posed as florists at the Martin home and searched for betting slips at the stately Columbia Country Club, authorities siezed more than $20,000 worth of gambling receipts and made five arrests.
One law enforcement source estimated the alleged gambling operation netted more than $500,000 a week in telephone bets placed on college and professional football games. Arlington County was described as the most recent site of the alleged ring, which police say was a sophisticated operation with elaborate security procedures.
For Martin, however, the euphoria of law enforcement officials was small consolation. The 52-year-old, semiretired businessman spent much of Monday trying to understand how he had become a suspect in the investigation.
He also was agonizing over the sudden disappearance of more than $28,000 in gold coins and five small diamonds, which he said were missing shortly after Sunday's raid. Martin said he has been collecting coins for years and had stored a small bag of them in his desk drawer in his locked study Friday night, intending to have a jeweler fashion a necklace for his wife for Christmas.
According to the search warrant, police learned by means of a dialed number recorder -- an electronic device placed on the telephones of several gambling suspects -- that Martin had received 162 calls during the last two months from the McLean home of Sharyn Haje Corry.
Corry and her brother, Charles John Haje of Springfield, have not been charged with conducting gambling operations. Police said yesterday, however, they seized gambling paraphernalia and $1,400 in cash from the Corry home and gambling ledgers from the Haje home when they raided both houses Sunday afternoon.
While the warrants for Corry, Haje and other homes searched by police cited informants as well as telephone calls to justify police suspicions, the search warrant for Martin's residence referred only to telephone calls. It said that 89 of the 162 calls from the Corry home to the Martin residence had been made on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, "on which days professional and college football games were played."
"There's 50 million people in the U.S. who fit into that same category," argued Martin.
The calls to his home that apparently aroused so much suspicion, he said, were to his teen-age daughter, whom he described as "best friends" with Corry's 16-year-old daughter.
"Can you imagine a so-called judge signing a search warrant for that?" Martin complained.
Martin said the family maintains an extra telephone line for the use of their three teen-agers and 9-year-old son and that friends of his children, including the Corry girl, frequently call the parents' number when trying to leave messages. That further accounts for the noticeably high number of calls from the Corry home, Martin and his wife, Opal, said yesterday.
Milton Alexander, the chief Fairfax magistrate who issued the search warrant, said Monday he thought there was probable cause to believe that the Martin home might be involved in illegal gambling. But Alexander refused to discuss the criteria he used in signing the warrant, arguing that the matter "is not the sort of thing that should be discussed in public . . . it's a matter between the police and the individual."
Fairfax County police defended their decision to search the Martin home. They also denied taking -- or even seeing -- the gold coins and diamonds Martin said were missing from his home. Opal Martin said she was not allowed to accompany police when she unlocked her husband's study so they could search it.
Police said yesterday they have agreed to go to the Martin home later this week to investigate the robbery complaint, a visit Martin said authorities at first declined to make even after he reported the theft.
The Martins also voiced resentment at the police intrusion that they said frightened their children. "They were here 2 1/2 hours, a house full of police with guns on their hips," Mrs. Martin said. "Children don't forget a thing like that."
In their five-jurisdiction gambling probe, police said they were seeking persons believed tied to Norman J. (Fat Smitty) Smith, a convicted Washington gambler who allegedly masterminded the betting operation. Police said the operation floated between Arlington and the District every two weeks in an effort to elude authorities.
On Sunday, Arlington police, fearful that valuable evidence would be destroyed, enticed gambling suspects out of their offices, which were registered to Coast Line Roofing and Bronley Contracting. Police threw smoke canisters under the suspects' cars and arranged with fire officials to respond to the phony emergency.
When the suspects rushed out of their offices at the sight of firetrucks, police dashed in and seized more than $20,000 worth of alleged sports betting slips, which had been recorded on water-soluble and highly flammable paper.
In Montgomery County, Maryland State Police went to the posh Columbia Country Club where they believe many of the bets originated. But the search failed to uncover any evidence of gambling activities, and police theorized later that a prime suspect at the club may have been tipped off about the raid.
Alexandria police also failed to find evidence of the gambling operation in their raid of an apartment at the exclusive Watergate at Landmark complex. Six police officers entered the apartment of a woman who was not home, seized telephone bills and two pieces of notebook paper that authorities said looked like part of an office football pool.
Alexandria vice detective George Branton said the woman's apartment was raided because she had received about 70 phone calls over the last five weeks, mostly before or after games, from Haje, whom police described as her boyfriend.
Arrested and charged with gambling violations in the District were Henry Berman, 80, of 3636 16th St. NW, and Reuben Schwartz, 66, 1784 Sycamore St. NW. Charged with gambling violations in Arlington were Edward Lawrence, 37, of Arlington, Richard B. Thomas, 37, of the District, and Fritz Temple Sandoz, 36, of Montgomery County.