War on Drugs

You Know, Maybe We Should Pay Baltimore County Police a Bit More . . .


 . . . becasue they apparently consider a poker game with a $65-buy to be "high stakes," and worthy of a SWAT raid.

Baltimore County police arrested five men after an undercover detective infiltrated an illegal high-stakes poker game in Edgemere, records show.

Police say "Texas Hold 'Em" games were held regularly at the Lynch Point Social Club in the 3100 block of Roger Road, where organizers were making as much as $1,500 in profit a night, according to charging documents.

After receiving a tip, officers conducted surveillance at the club and later sent an undercover detective inside, who participated in a game with a $65 buy-in. The detective played for hours — leaving after he lost all his chips, records show.

A tactical unit conducted a raid on the club Feb. 11, seizing poker chips, electronic gambling machines and a surveillance system, among other items. Forty-one people were inside at the time of the raid.

Michael Benton Gilbert, 35, of the 3100 block of Lynch Road admitted to running the poker games and was given money by the club to pay off winners, police wrote in charging documents. He is charged with several counts related to organizing an illegal gambling operation, as well unlawfully possessing a slot machine, and was released from jail on his own recognizance, records show . . .

"These are financial crimes, and while it might appear on the surface that it's harmless, it festers into other crimes," said Lt. Robert McCullough, a county police spokesman.

Reached for comment, Gilbert referred questions to his attorney, Andrew Alperstein, who said Gilbert had no criminal record and "looks forward to resolving the case."

"In some of these types of cases, police have found other things, like drugs, or things of that nature, but there's none of that in this case," Alperstein said. "This is a wholesome group of working people playing poker. [Gilbert] is just a regular guy, has no record and supports his family."

It's too bad they can't also charge him with "aggravated festering."