VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A lengthy undercover police investigation resulted in the indictment of well-known Hampton Roads restaurateur George Pitsilides.
Pitsilides is the owner of Captain George's Seafood Restaurant.
The 59-year-old is charged with three counts of operating of continuous illegal gambling operation. Lisa Michelle Crain, 41, of the 1800 block of Thomas Lane in Virginia Beach is facing two counts on the same charge.
Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey L. Bryant says a grand jury meeting in Virginia Beach Circuit Count returned the indictments, which are the result of an investigation by the Virginia Beach Police Department's Special Investigations Division.
"This was an undercover operation a police officer was in place who played in there and in this game for over a month's period of time. I think they were confident about where they put it it had been there for some period of time," said Bryant.
In April 2011, WAVY.com reported that police were investigating Pitsilides on racketeering, money laundering and illegal gambling allegations and that a grand jury would decide whether or not to charge him. Harvey said the investigation had nothing to do with the popular restaurant.
"The police department in their investigation established that the amount of money in this particular operation [at 1945 Laskin Road across the street from Captain George's] exceeds the statutory amount for a per game or weekly basis, and there was a cut going to the house that makes it illegal," said Bryant, in an April 2011 interview.
In 1997, Pitsilides was indicted on illegal bookmaking charges. He pleaded no contest and had to pay $500,000 in fines.
Monday evening, Pitsilides released a statement refuting the allegations, adding the Commonwealth considers poker a game of skill.
"My client is innocent of any wrongdoing and we will vigorously fight the charges against him," said Pitsildes' attorney James Broccoletti."The fact that it took more than a year for the case to proceed to Grand Jury speaks volumes about the weakness of the evidence against my client."
According to the release, the charges stem from a home game of Texas Hold 'Em played with close friends.
"The case against Mr. Pitsilides is specious at every level," Broccoletti said. "The money that was collected was to help cover the cost of food and refreshments during the game. It is a total waste of taxpayer dollars to indict someone for hosting a legal game and sharing the cost of the pastrami sandwiches."
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