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Somerville bar sanctioned by state for illegal gambling

Posted by Matt Byrne  March 7, 2012 10:10 AM

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State regulators will suspend for three days this month the liquor license of a Washington Street bar for hosting illegal gambling, authorities said.

Investigators from the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission found that Michael's Bar at 97 Washington Street hosted off-track betting, card games, and professional football pools, according to a decision released by the commission.

Investigators visited the bar in September and found the trappings of a betting parlor, according to the commission. A horse racing book was in plain view, and races were being played on three of the five televisions, the report said.

At the helm of the operation were Richard Ghiozzi, 55, of Peabody, and Tino Novello, 70, of Saugus, according to the report.

Chandra Allard, spokeswoman for the state treasurer's office, which oversees the liquor commission, said the investigation was spurred by an anonymous complaint. Documents show that the tip came after a debtor to Ghiozzi and Novello attempted suicide because of mounting gambling debts.

At the bar, investigators watched as bettors made wagers, rooted for horses, and received cash winnings. The bartender kept an envelope that contained a spreadsheet on football lines as well.

After three races, a man approached Ghiozzi, who asked him, "What did you hit?"

The man gave him the horse's odds, and Ghiozzi handed him an unidentified amount of cash.

As the man walked away, the report said, Ghiozzi called out to him, "Wait, I owe you more," and paid out more bills.

Attempts to reach bar owner Robert Parise at his Somerville home and at the bar were unsuccessful this morning.

In lieu of the suspension, Allard said the establishment could opt for a fine, but it was unclear if attorneys for the bar had negotiated such a solution with the state. 

The suspension is slated for March 28 to March 30. Two addition days of suspension will held over the owners in case further violations are found, Allard said.

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