Mob client 'nervous' about switching business to competitor

November 16, 2010 7:07:42 PM PST
"I was nervous," admitted a business owner testifying about his decision to switch video poker distributors.

Government witness George Stavropolous took the stand Tuesday in the government's case against five men, some with connections to organized crime, who bombed a competing amusement supply company in Berwyn in 2003.

Stavropolous was among several bar owners, a social club treasurer and a gas station owner who testified Tuesday that they placed Amusement Inc. owned video poker machines in their establishments and illegally paid out winners. Each witness stated that defendant Casey Szaflarski was their contact and that he regularly showed up to empty the machines and split the proceeds.

Stavropoulos, who owned George's Too, a liquor store and bar in Lyons, said he did business with Szflarski for years then switched to C & S Coin Operated Amusements to get a better deal but was nervous about telling Szaflarski. Szaflarski is charged with illegal gambling and tax evasion. Co-defendants Anthony Volpendesto, his 87 year old father Sam Volpendesto, Outlaw biker Mark Polchan and career criminal Michael "the Large Guy" Sarno are charged with bombing C & S, a video poker competitor. Sarno is an Outfit boss according to investigators and a convicted racketeer who lives with his family in west suburban Westchester.

On cross examination, Stavropoulos admitted that it was his decision to make illegal payouts to winners playing the gambling machines and that those machines were all labeled "for amusement only." Szaflarski's former clients explained how the FBI raided their businesses in May of 2009 taking the poker machine circuit boards and business records. An FBI agent testified at the end of the day to explain how the machines kept track of players' bets and payouts. Szaflarski and Sarno are the only defendants out on bail.

The trial is expected to last four weeks.


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