Faces $100,000 fine on each count
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 21, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- The owners of Lupo's Seafood and Grille at North Beach are facing charges in Rockingham Superior Court for allegedly allowing illegal gambling to take place inside their establishment on Ocean Boulevard.
Lupo's Seafood and Grille Inc. was indicted by a Superior Court Grand Jury last week on four counts of gambling or wagering entertainment and entertainers.
The indictment handed up to the owners of the restaurant comes as a result of an investigation conducted by the state's Division of Liquor Enforcement and the Hampton Police Department that concluded in November 2009.
"This was an ongoing investigation for quite some time," said Major Todd E. Feyrer of the division. "The illegal gambling had to do with the video poker machines (that were inside the restaurant)."
Police raided the establishment at 595 Ocean Blvd. around 10 p.m., on Nov. 21, 2009, and arrested owner Michael Lupo on a warrant for gambling.
The charge was eventually dropped at the Hampton District Court level but several items were seized as part of the search warrant, including gambling machines, computer equipment and an undisclosed amount of cash.
Authorities allege in the indictment that their investigation showed the restaurant was paying out cash prizes to those who played their video poker machines.
The machines are legal in New Hampshire as long as no money changes hands.
Police allege the owner allowed gambling on his premises on Oct. 3, 2009, by checking the amounts of points accumulated by a patron on a video gaming machine and then paid that patron money for the value of those points.
A cooperating individual working with the Liquor Commission went undercover between Oct. 3 and Nov. 18, 2009, and received payment for his points by an unnamed employee at the restaurant on at least three occasions.
If convicted, Lupo's Seafood and Grille could be fined $100,000 on each count and possibly lose its state license to sell liquor.
An indictment is not an indication of guilt or innocence, it just means the grand jury found enough evidence to warrant a trial in the matter.