Rockville Police Chief Jared Stout said yesterday that at a news conference Tuesday he had grossly overstated the amount of money risked at poker games at the all-male Progress Club.
Stout had told reporters that club members had risked $25.4 million in poker games over 28 months, but in a telephone call yesterday to The Washington Post he said that amount should have been $2.54 million.
"That's what happens when a liberal arts major tries to do something scientific. Blame it on the decimal point or math skills, but the mistake was all mine," Stout said.
On Wednesday, the club goes on trial on a charge of operating a place to gamble. Last June 5, Rockville police swept through the club arresting 21 members on charges of illegal gambling after a 5 1/2-month undercover investigation that included culling card game scoring sheets from club trash bins. Charges against all but one of the men were dropped in exchange for community service.
Members contend that police and prosecutors have exaggerated the club's decades-old tradition of playing cards into a "casino-type" gambling operation.
Said club member Herman Eig, 73, of Stout's nearly $23 million gaffe: "That's not the only mistake he's made -- everything that's been said has been inflated. Chief Stout and [Montgomery County state's attorney Andrew L.] Sonner are trying to justify what already has taken place and so they are trying to paint the club as black as they can."