VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - One of the most famous restaurant owners in Hampton Roads is finding himself possibly on the wrong side of the law.
Police are investigating the owner of Captain George's Seafood Restaurant on racketeering charges. Racketeering is defined as three or more people conspiring to commit a criminal act.
Police say they have evidence of racketeering, money laundering, and illegal gambling.
Virginia Beach resident George Pitsilides is the owner of Captain George's Seafood Restaurant, and according to court documents Pitsilides is also the owner of the home at 1945 Laskin Road which was the target of a Virginia Beach police sting on Friday, April 1.
A source told WAVY.com a disgruntled 'regular' told police of the activity in the house. Those who participated in regular poker games on Laskin Road would hand over their money, and get chips. The money would then be stored in a box in the attic at the home until the end of the evening. When police busted the gamblers, a source said they found hundreds of thousands of dollars in a box upstairs in the attic. No one was arrested, but everyone lost his money. After police finished their investigation everyone was allowed to leave.
A grand jury will decide whether to charge Pitsilides on racketeering, illegal gambling, and/or money laundering.
Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey Bryant said the investigation has nothing to do with the 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.
After raiding the Laskin Road house, police went to Pitsilides home where, according to the search warrant return, found money but also found heroin and hypodermic needles. Pitsilides' Attorney James Broccoletti said the heroin was not his client's.
"Any of the quote, unquote heroin that may have been found in the house was residue found on a syringe that was discarded by Mr. Pitsilides' son prior to the time he entered into a methadone drug clinic," said Broccoletti.
At the two addresses police, found $384,000. Bryant said the amount says a lot about the investigation.
"When the police go and seize $384,000 in cash, that sounds like an extensive operation," said Bryant.
As for the drugs, Bryant said at the end of the day this is ultimately a case of illegal gambling.
"The house was keeping the money in the gambling operation, and that makes it illegal...and that's the purpose of the investigation," Bryant added.
George Pitsilides had no comment. So far no one has been arrested.
The Grand Jury will decide if there should be charges. On the night of the bust there were several people in the Laskin Road site, but according to Bryant the one most responsible would be the one taking the cut of the gambling proceeds. That would be the "house," and the "house" is owned by George Pitsilides and the Pitsilides Land Trust.
This is not Pitsilides' first run in with the law. In 1997 he was indicted on illegal bookmaking charges. He pleaded no contest and had to pay $500,000 in fines.
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