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Prosecutors Drop Charges in Md. Poker Raid

November 10, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Prosecutors said they will drop charges against 80 poker players arrested after what police called the biggest gambling raid in the city since Prohibition.

Prosecutors said police quoted the wrong statute when charging the players, and if all the cases went to trial, it could overburden an already stressed court system.

``That’s great news,″ said Michael Ruyter, 37, of Crofton, who was charged in the raid. ``I’ll be able to sleep tonight.″

Police raided the Owl’s Nest club on Nov. 2, arresting 95 and seizing more than $25,600 in cash, thousands of poker chips, card decks and liquor and beer allegedly being sold without a license.

Police charged the players under a subsection of law that states that a person may not ``keep, rent, use or occupy″ a building for the purpose of gambling. Another subsection _ one that prohibits a ``bet, wager or gamble″ _ should have been used, prosecutors said.

``Had these 80 players been charged appropriately, we might have taken a different route and prosecuted them,″ said Assistant State’s Attorney Patricia Deros.

Gambling charges and liquor violations remain against the other 15 people arrested, said police spokesman Donny Moses. They include tournament organizers Gerald C. Dickens, 65, of Bowie and Joseph A. Cary, 50, of Pasadena, dealers and waitresses.

Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm said his office would meet with prosecutors to determine the next steps in the case.

Baltimore has not had a raid of comparable size since a gambling spot in Greektown was hit in 1932. Police said 72 people were arrested, but news accounts put the number at 118.

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