As the Prince George's County Council deliberates today on plans for a controversial 1,500-seat bingo hall, the most visible representatives of the enterprise will be Claude H. Humbert II, a heavyset Waldorf Jaycee who would manage the operation, and Gerard T. McDonough, the lawyer representing the sponsor, Eastover Bingo.
The two primary investors are outsiders, less well-known, but with a colorful past.
Philadelphians Stanley Bear and Joseph Greenstone rose through the rough-and-tumble world of the vending-machine industry, they have said, through their hard work and tenacity.
Along the way, by their account, they have had business associations and occasional social contacts with leading organized-crime figures in Philadelphia; a vending company in which they are officers and shareholders had paid slain Mafia boss Angelo Bruno and Bruno's former driver to secure business.
That's not unheard of in the City of Brotherly Love's close-knit world of vending machines, where organized-crime figures have often established relationships with legitimate businessmen, according to law enforcement officials. Because of their associations, Bear and Greenstone have been the subject of criminal investigations.
"It don't mean nothing," Greenstone, 68, said last week of his associations. "I'm not a racketeer."
Greenstone's son is married to a daughter of Raymond (Long John) Martorano, Bruno's driver and twice-convicted drug dealer who is serving a life prison term for ordering a gangland-style execution.
"I knew Raymond before he became part of my family, so to speak," Greenstone said in an interview. "We had no problems. He was a nice guy. He was trying to be friendly.
"Even earlier in my relationship, he'd say, 'Let's go out for dinner' a lot of times. I wouldn't go. Then when my son married his daughter, I wound up having dinner with him three or four times.
"I told him up front, 'Martorano is a bad name.' He laughed. I think some of these guys enjoy being gangsters."
Greenstone said he also knew Bruno, although not as well. "When I first came into the business, we were in competition with him. We eventually stayed away from each other in the vending-machine business . He really was a sweet guy. You wouldn't know he was as powerful as he was. He was very quiet."
Greenstone said Bear, his partner, "would go [to dinner with Martorano and Bruno] more times than I would. I would make up excuses."
In 1959, Martorano founded John's Wholesale, a South Philadelphia tobacco wholesale and vending firm later owned by his wife and other family members. In 1963, John's purchased a vending firm owned by Bruno's wife and, in 1965, Bruno went to work as a salesman for John's, an arrangement law enforcement officials described as a front for Bruno's organized crime activities.
In 1976, John's sold much of its business to J.D. Vending, of suburban Haverford, Pa., and to Jay Vending, a company in which Bear and Greenstone are officers and shareholders.
The sale, according to the Pennsylvania Crime Commission, included an agreement that J.D. Vending and Jay Vending pay Bruno 3 cents a pack for cigarettes sold at locations whose business Bruno had solicited. In addition, Bear said, J.D. and Jay agreed to service each other's machines on the shared routes acquired from John's.
Eleven months after Bruno's gangland-style execution in March 1980, Raymond Martorano testified at a New Jersey crime commission hearing that he no longer worked for John's. Instead, he testified, "I work for my son and I work for a couple of other companies," including "Jay Scott, [president of] Jay Vending, Jimmy Del Caine [president of J.D. Vending]."
Pennsylvania Crime Commission investigators said organized-crime figures have controlled the locations of vending machines through contracts with bar and store owners.
"If you want your business to be profitable, you have to have locations," said Russell Millhouse, a former IRS investigator who now works for the commission. "If you don't deal with them, you're going to die on the vine."
Looking at his own arrangements, Greenstone said, "Everytime we bought a route with a racketeer running it, we were doing the city a favor, because we were putting a racketeer out of business." But under the commission arrangement, he acknowledged, his firm was also supporting the alleged racketeer.
"We give them a certain amount of money on each pack," he said. "This is one of the things I wasn't happy with. I own 15 percent of Jay and have nothing to do with running it."
After Bruno's murder in 1980, Martorano testified that he worked as a salesman soliciting routes for Jay, J.D. and a third firm whose owner Greenstone said he had "known for years."
Greenstone and Bear belonged to a group of young men who entered the vending-machine business in the 1940s. "We started with nothing, made money from vending," he said. "Everything was legitimate. We pay our taxes."
Greenstone, the son of an Atlantic City grocery clerk, and Bear, a native of Philadelphia, went into business during World War II with one machine. A month after the machine was placed in a bar, they had $28 in profits, enough to buy a second machine. Soon, they had machines in 10 or 12 locations.
Greenstone said it was a cutthroat business in which he was a maverick, refusing at first to join the association of vending-machine operators who carved up the territory.
Shortly after the war, the two partners, who both served in the military, sought to acquire trucks for their business from the War Assets Board, which gave priority to veterans buying military surplus vehicles for their own use.
Greenstone said the six trucks they bought didn't work, so they sold them before the required six-month waiting period and were charged with war surplus profiteering. Both were convicted in 1951 and fined $500 each.
Eventually, the firm of Bear and Greenstone was butting heads with Scott and Katz, another Philadelphia vending firm. "We were bidding each other up for routes , so we sat down one day and merged," Greenstone said. About a year ago, Bear and Greenstone sold their interest in the merged firm, S&K Amusement. They continue their involvement with Jay Vending, which shares a small, squat brick building in West Philadelphia with S&K.
"Over the years, I sold cars," Greenstone said. "Did everything. It's a book. I just finished reading [the book by Chrylser Corp. Chairman Lee A.] Iacocca. He's nothing compared to me."
Bear and Greenstone expanded to the Washington region in the 1950s by building a gambling casino in Charles County, during the era of legalized slot machines in southern Maryland. The Stardust, which they continue to own, now has as its major tenant the Waldorf Jaycees, who have run charity bingo games there since 1975.
It was the Waldorf bingo games that led them to launch a string of similar ventures in Allentown and Harrisburg, Pa., and Philadelphia -- and, ultimately, to try to open one in Eastover Shopping Center, just across from the District line in Prince George's.
Typically, the Philadelphians formed a for-profit corporation to renovate a decaying structure, often a department store, provided the professional bingo expertise and then leased or sub-leased the space to charities. The corporations derive their income from rents and management fees.
In Prince George's County, Bear and Greenstone have invested most of the $200,000 spent to rent and remodel an old J.C. Penney's store and furnish it with bingo tables, chairs and television monitors.
But, so far, the Prince George's County has refused to issue gaming permits, and legislation has been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly, as well as in the County Council, to bar such commercial-charity bingos. The legislation was prompted largely by churches and charities who run their own bingo games and fear the competition could hurt their fund-raising.
Meanwhile, Bear and Greenstone claim that they no longer play an active role in the vending business and devote their time strictly to charity bingo work.
They operate two bingo halls in Philadelphia, one filling 14,980 square feet in sprawling Jerry's Corner, a former discount center and farmers' market close to oil refinery tanks and an auto junkyard by the Passyunk Avenue Bridge.
The 350-seat parlor shares a low-lying building with businesses they do not own -- a bottling company and a bazaar offering adult sex books, movies and live entertainment. There, for $1, customers can "talk to the girl of your dreams," scantily-clad women who beckon from small booths.
The bingo parlor was first licensed in 1978, for a capacity crowd of 1,500, in the name of the Haim-Parnes Ladies Auxiliary No. 151 of the Jewish War Veterans. Greenstone's wife, Judith, is vice president of the auxiliary.
One recent Wednesday night, the bingo hall had 310 players, mostly women middle-aged and older.
Bear said he works at the bingo hall one night a week. Greenstone also helps out one night, and his son, Marc, he said, "works for the bingos . . . and is buying some properties for rental . . . . "
Marc N. Greenstone married Roxann C. Martorano on April 15, 1980, according to Pennsylvania marriage records. Both listed their occupations on the marriage application as "sales" and their fathers' as "businessman."
Mobsters, Greenstone said, are a "peculiar group of people. They're not businessmen. They're not smart. They think they're big shots, but they're little people. It's a sad thing. I feel bad for them.
"Everybody in the rackets in Philadelphia is either killed or in jail, so what the hell's the money worth?"