Police: Gaming board officials knew about probe

March 4, 2008 1:11:14 PM PST
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board officials knew about an ongoing state police perjury investigation into a northeastern Pennsylvania businessman before the panel awarded him a casino license, the state's top police commander told senators Tuesday.

With gaming board officials apparently saying the opposite - that they knew nothing of the investigation into Louis A. DeNaples - one senator asked who was being untruthful.

Col. Jeffrey Miller, the Pennsylvania State Police commissioner, told the Senate Appropriations Committee that one of his troopers repeatedly told the gaming board's top agents about the investigation in the weeks before the panel awarded a casino lic

ense to DeNaples.

Miller also said he believes that then-board chairman Tad Decker knew about the investigation before the Dec. 20, 2006, vote. Miller, however, suggested that not all seven gaming board members were privy to what agents in the board's Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement knew.

"The board should have known because the BIE did know because they were the ones who referred it to us in the first place," Miller told the senators.

Decker has insisted that the gaming board had no evidence to find DeNaples unsuitable for casino ownership, but that the state police had such evidence and didn't share it.

The state police charged DeNaples on Jan. 30 with four counts of perjury and accused him of lying to gaming board agents to win a license for Mount Airy Casino Resort, which DeNaples opened in October.

DeNaples allegedly lied about the extent of his relationships with two reputed heads of a Scranton-area organized crime family and two men at the center of a federal investigation into corruption involving Philadelphia City Hall.

DeNaples' lawyers say he is innocent, and are challenging the charges against him.

Miller's testimony came in response to questions from senators who heard testimony a week ago from top gaming board officials. In statements to the Senate panel and reporters in recent weeks, Decker and current board members have accused the state police of violating an agreement to cooperate with the gaming board's ba

ckground investigations of casino applicants.

Last month, the gaming board's chairwoman, Mary DiGiacomo Colins, told lawmakers that if the gaming board had known about the state police's perjury investigation into DeNaples, the agency would have put off a vote on his application.

The two agencies also are in a dispute over how the state police began the perjury investigation into DeNaples.

Miller and other state police officials insist that gaming board agents believed that DeNaples had lied to them but could not prove it. Thus, the agents asked the state police to request transcripts of the depositions DeNaples gave to them in 2006, which they did, Miller said.

However, gaming board officials say state police initiated the request, and subsequently made no effort to share a transcript of an FBI telephone wiretap that later helped form the basis for one of the perjury charges against DeNaples.

The disparity in testimony before the Senate panel prompted Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, to say that "at the minimum, someone isn't being honest with this committee."