Westmoreland judge to hand down verdict this week in New Kensington bar gambling case

October 3, 2018

A Westmoreland County judge this week will decide the case against an Allegheny County woman charged with operating a gambling device last year in a New Kensington bar.

Mindy Wilson, 36, of East Deer is the first of nine people to go to trial in connection with a state investigation into an illegal casino operation at a Spartco Sporting Club in 2017.

Common Pleas Judge Tim Krieger conducted a nonjury trial Monday on allegations Wilson, who worked as a bartender in the club, paid out winnings to a person playing a slot machine in the upstairs portion of the private social club.

Timothy Zundel, a liquor control enforcement officer with the Pennsylvania State Police, testified he visited the bar numerous times in an undercover capacity and witnessed club staff pay out winnings to gamblers. Wilson paid a patron during his July 20, 2017, visit to the bar, Zundel said.

Investigators contend the club operated what amounted to an an illegal casino. Zundel said two slot machines were discovered in the upstairs portion of the bar and another 17 slot and poker machines, along with a poker table, were in operation in the building’s basement.

Wilson did not testify during the trial. Defense attorney Paul Zavarella argued there was not enough evidence to prove money changed hands.

Assistant District Attorney Adam Barr said it is clear illegal gambling was taking place.

“What kind of bar do you go to where you come out with more money then you went in with?” Barr said.

Krieger dismissed one gambling count against Wilson and said he will render a verdict as to the remaining misdemeanor charge this week.

Police last year charged five officers of the Spartco club with gambling, conspiracy and other offenses. Four employees, including Wilson, were charged with lesser offenses.

In August, Spartco club President Armondo Spataro, 39, of Pittsburgh pleaded guilty to five charges and was sentenced by Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Rita Hathaway to serve two years on probation and six months of house arrest. Charges are pending against the other remaining officers, the club and employees charged in connection with the gambling allegations.

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