State ABCC raps Polish Club for alleged illegal gambling scheme

  • The Pulaski Club, 79 Maple St., in Easthampton. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

@JackSuntrup
Published: 7/2/2017 11:01:15 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Investigators uncovered an illegal gambling scheme at the Polish Pulaski Club of Easthampton last month, leading the state to suspend the club’s alcohol license for a month and recommend the removal of its president for allegedly hindering the investigation.

In a June 13 report, Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission Chairwoman Jean M. Lorizio told the club that its license would be suspended from Aug. 9 to Sept. 9 this year.

The commission also said the club’s president, Scott Vishaway, needed to be removed from his post after investigators said he hindered their inspection.

A person who answered the club’s phone Sunday said no one was available for comment. A knock at the door of an Easthampton address listed as Vishaway’s went unanswered Sunday.

The investigators — Christopher Temple and Nicholas Velez — found bartenders were paying gamblers for every point the gamblers earned on the club’s two video game machines, a violation of the club’s license.

This is the second known illegal gambling instance uncovered locally in recent months. In May, the commission penalized the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8428 in Belchertown after investigators discovered a similar video game payout system.

Investigators looking into the Easthampton club, a bar and banquet facility at 79 Maple St., uncovered the scheme on Nov. 10 last year. Two ABCC investigators entered the club at 8:45 p.m. and saw two electronic video devices.

The investigators asked a bartender about the machines, and the bartender told them the pub “paid out” 10 cents per point.

At that point, Vishaway interrupted the investigators. The investigators presented their credentials, according to their narrative.

“Vishaway stated that the club does not pay out on the devices,” the investigators wrote. “When investigators reported to Vishaway the bartender’s statement, he replied the bartender did not know anything, and then he walked away.”

The investigators walked behind the bar, but Vishaway came back, they wrote, telling them they could not go there. The investigators said they had the right to inspect licensed businesses, and warned Vishaway that hindering an investigation would be a violation of the law.

“I’m not talking to you,” investigators said Vishaway replied. Vishaway then left, again.

The law enforcement narrative then says investigators found index card-shaped forms with “time, machine, points, name, date and bartender signature” written on them.

Bonnie LaMontagne, who told investigators she was the club treasurer, said she “wanted nothing to do with” the video devices. LaMontagne introduced the investigators to Lauren Pomponio, who said she was the manager of record. Pomponio said when someone won on the video screens, the bartender would fill out the slip, put the slip in the back office and pay the winner.

Two Easthampton police officers approached the investigators, saying Vishaway called them. The investigators showed the officers their credentials. Then, Vishaway entered the room and told LaMontagne and Pomponio to “get out of there.”

The investigators requested access to the back office, but Vishaway refused. He also refused them access to the electronic machines. And he didn’t tell investigators his name when asked.

The report concluded: “Vishaway was dishonest with the investigators” when they asked if the club paid out for the gaming devices. “The President’s refusal to honestly answer the Investigator’s questions or provide them access to the premises” violated state law, the report concluded.

Jack Suntrup can be reached at jsuntrup@gazettenet.com.


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