A story in Tuesday's Washington Post incorrectly named a church that had received only $2,818 of about $76,000 that was earned in its name in bingo games in Alexandria. The church involved was St. Paul's Pentecostal Church.
A promoter who ran into bingo games for Northern Virginia charities kept most of the $130,000 his games cleared during a six-month period and gave the charities phony financial records showing the games were far less profitable. Alexandria's special bingo prosecutor said yesterday.
Prosecutor Edward J. White's statement came during a four-hour preliminary hearing into charges that promoter Alva Ford Thompson violated Virginia gambling laws through the bingo games he ran in Alexandria.
In one instance, games Thompson ran for St. Paul's Episcopal Church netted profits of $76,000 in a six-month period that ended in May, testified Coy Ivy, a state police investigative accountant. But the church received only $2,818, Ivy said.
Ivy and undercover Alexandria police officer Kathleen Bralove, who posed as Thompson's secretary, testified during the hearing that Thompson kept duplicate bookkeeping records, and ran bingo games illegally without charitable sponsors as well as for sponsors with revoked bingo permits.
Fairfax County Judge G. William Hammer, presiding in Alexandria General District Court, found probable cause "to believe that a felony has been committed" and sent the case against Thompson to the grand jury scheduled to meet Wednesday.
Thompson's attorney, Jack B. Stevens, had asked Hammer to find Thompson guilty of violating a bingo law, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and the loss of a bingo permit.
But prosecutor White was successful in pressing the felony gambling charge contending that because Thompson's operation had grossed more than $2,000 and had continued more than 30 days, it had violated the state's gambling laws. The charge carries a maximum penalty of a $20,000 fine and 10 years in jail.
Thompson was the first person arrested on charges filed by White since he was appointed in April to investigate allegations of widespread irregularities in the city's $1.2 million-a-year bingo industry. White said after the four-hour hearing that he expects several other indicments in the bingo probe on Wednesday.
According to state statutes, only nonprofit organizations may run bingo games, and none of the game workers may be paid. Only organizations with valid bingo permits may sponsor games under the law.
According to Ivy and Bralove's testimony Thompson asked his employes to solicit sponsors for the games. Then according to the testimony, he would conduct the games for them and under a verbal agreement with the organizations, would tell them he would keep $400 a game for expenses.
But Ivy said Thompson kept duplicate sets of weekly and daily records on proceeds of the games. On the records he gave to the organizations Thompson reduced the actual gross and raised the actual expenses incurred, Ivy said Thompson told him. On several occasions no sponsors of the games were listed on the records or groups whose bingo permits were revoked were named as sponsors of the games, Ivy said.
In one instance Thompson rearranged the books for a bingo game, reducing the gross for one night by $800, Ivy testified.
Ivy also testified that $65,369.25 of bingo proceeds were deposited in the bank accounts of Gridiron Inc. and Arlandria Bingo. Thompson is the only stockholder of Gridiron. Ivy testified, Arlandria Bingo is the name of a hall Thompson ran, police said.
Officer Bralove testified that white posing as Thompson's secretary at his company: Metropolitan Talent Inc., Thompson received phone messages on Feb. 3 stating that the Liberty Rebecca Lodge and a YMCA had lost their bingo permits. Ivy testified that Thompson's records showed that he held bingo games for the lodge on Feb. 7, 8 and 9 and during those three days the gross income totaled $5,621.25.
In the case of St. Paul's church, prosecutor White said he is unable to account for more than $60,000 in bingo game proceeds raised for the church.
Under cross-examination by Stevens, Ivy testified that Thompson's books "were not kept in the manner in which they should have been kept. There are discrepancies. They are not kept in accord with the bingo statue."
"I don't know why these sponsors didn't ask what happened to the rest" of their money. White said in his closing argument. "That's what we're here for, to find out what happened to thousands and thousands of dollars."
Stevens argued that Thompson was acting as an agent for the organizations and not profiting from the bingo games himself. Stevnes also said that "there is no evidence that any records required to be filed have been falsified."
"There's no evidence of gambling other than bingo," Stevens said.