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State Trooper and Others Accused of Running Gambling, Prostitution Ring Claim Activity was Legal

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Oct/02/2022

A trial is set to begin this week for a Pennsylvania state trooper accused of running an illegal gambling operation.  His defense appears to be that the seized gambling machines were legal.  He and other co-defendants are also charged with running an illegal prostitution ring.

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Former Trooper Robert Covington, 49, is accused along with co-defendants David P. Klem, 41, Archbald, Michael P. Ball, 51, Dalton, and Deanna E. Tallo, 33, Throop of running the illegal gambling operation from a strip club, Sinners Swing Gentlemen's Club in Mayfield, PA just outside of Scanton.

Covington and Klem were owners of the strip club.  They are alleged to have paid out patrons who won on illegal gambling machines and took a portion of funds made by strippers in acts of prostitution, investigators charged.

Attorney Brian McMonagle, Klem's counsel, said Friday during a pretrial conference that the defense will seek to call attorney Joseph Grad to testify as an expert witness and explain why the gaming machines seized are actually legal.

Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Adrian Shchuka said he has an issue because the expert is likely to comment on the machines' source code and there is little time to get a rebuttal witness.

Lackawanna County Judge Michael J. Barrasse informed that the only other remedy is a delay, which Schuka said is "not my preference."

Among the witnesses prosecutors intend to call to the stand are Covington's ex-girlfriend and an expert witness who can help translate for the jury a slang that is used in the prostitution business appearing on a text message between Covington and Klem.

As for the gambling machines, a Beaver County court in 2014 ruled that developer Pace-O-Matic's “Pennsylvania Skill” machines indeed require skill and are not illegal gambling devices under the state's crimes code. 

It is unclear whether that finding will be used as part of this trial.

- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com

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