Video gam­bling op­er­a­tion dis­man­tled, of­fi­cials say

East Wash­ing­ton man ac­cused of gen­er­at­ing mil­lions through scheme cov­er­ing four coun­ties

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Local News - By Jonathan D. Sil­ver

Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette

A mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar video gam­bling op­er­a­tion in Al­legheny, Fayette, Wash­ing­ton and West­more­land coun­ties has been shut down, state au­thor­i­ties say.

State At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro’s of­fice an­nounced Thurs­day that state po­lice have filed nearly three dozen charges against An­thony Zen­ner, 58, of East Wash­ing­ton.

The at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice said Mr. Zen­ner ran his il­le­gal op­er­a­tion in 33 bars and clubs through­out the four coun­ties and al­leged that he pulled in $7 mil­lion in prof­its over the past decade.

Mr. Zen­ner was ar­rested Thurs­day. He is charged with cor­rupt or­ga­ni­za­tions, deal­ing in pro­ceeds of un­law­ful ac­tiv­i­ties and gam­bling de­vices.

“He co­op­er­ated with the ini­tial search of his home and his busi­ness. We are just get­ting the charges to­day and in­tend to de­fend against all of them,” said Mr. Zen­ner’s at­tor­ney, Christo­pher L. Black­well.

Au­thor­i­ties said Mr. Zen­ner owns Zen­ner Vend­ing, which gave bars, clubs and restau­rants at least 142 il­le­gal gam­bling de­vices from 2006 to 2017.

“To­day we’ve ended Tony Zen­ner’s video gam­bling op­er­a­tion,” Mr. Shapiro said. “This de­fen­dant raked in mil­lions of dol­lars in il­le­gal pro­ceeds, drain­ing money from Penn­syl­va­ni­ans — and from the com­mon­wealth of Penn­syl­va­nia — over the last decade.”

The ar­rest was the cul­mi­na­tion of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that be­gan in 2016 and in­volved un­der­cover surveil­lance. Bars and clubs that had the ma­chines paid cash to play­ers who won cred­its, the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice said. A statewide in­ves­ti­gat­ing grand jury de­ter­mined that Mr. Zen­ner split his prof­its evenly with the venue own­ers. The at­tor­ney gen­eral al­leged that Mr. Zen­ner raked in $14,470 a week.

Mr. Black­well dis­puted that num­ber and said his client’s vend­ing ma­chine busi­ness gen­er­ates in­come from an ar­ray of de­vices.

“This is a le­git­i­mate vend­ing ma­chine com­pany. He has ev­ery­thing from dart­boards, pool ta­bles to soda pop ma­chines, snack ma­chines,” Mr. Black­well said.

“He ob­tained a li­cense to place these ma­chines within their mu­nic­i­pal­ity. He paid the ap­pro­pri­ate taxes and the li­cens­ing fees that go along with that. So we’re go­ing to look at each and every lo­ca­tion, and there’s 33 of them, to de­ter­mine which ones he had a li­cense for and paid the mu­nic­i­pal­ity for the priv­i­lege of putting a ma­chine

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