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Inexperienced Gambler at the Craps Table, Who Bet Both For and Against the Shooter,
Acquitted by Jury for Trying to Obtain Money Under False Pretenses
By David Ashenfelter, Detroit Free PressMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Oct. 31, 2007 - Joseph Ogundu called it a blunder at the craps table.

Greektown Casino and the police who work there called it cheating, and had the 46-year-old West Bloomfield resident charged with a felony and a misdemeanor.

In July, 11 months after the incident at the Detroit casino, a Wayne County Circuit Court jury acquitted Ogundu.

On Monday, Ogundu returned to Wayne County Circuit Court -- this time, to file a lawsuit against the casino, a State Police officer and an unnamed Detroit cop. He's accusing them of false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, defamation of character and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Ogundu, an engineering consultant, is seeking at least $25,000 in damages.

"It's been a terrible ordeal," he said Tuesday.

A casino spokesman said he couldn't comment on pending litigation. There was no immediate comment from the Michigan State Police.

The incident happened in the wee hours of Aug. 5, 2006, after Ogundu bought $100 worth of chips and stopped at the craps table.

His lawyer, David W. Jones of Detroit, said Ogundu is an inexperienced gambler and a novice at the dice game.

Before long, Ogundu placed an improper bet, prompting the dealer to tell him to remove the bet from the table.

About 15-25 minutes later, he made another improper bet. The dealer, who was getting ready to pay Ogundu $10 for winning, caught the error and paused to explain the rules to him, Jones said.

Later, Jones said, a Michigan State Police officer and uniformed Detroit cop arrested Ogundu.

He was charged with a state gambling violation that carries up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine if he's convicted, as well as a misdemeanor -- trying to obtain money under false pretenses -- which calls for up to a year in jail and a $500 fine upon conviction.

Before trial, the state twice offered plea deals, which Ogundu rejected. A jury eventually acquitted him after viewing video from the casino table.

"He's an honest man," Jones said, noting that Ogundu lost $50 during an hour at the table.

He said the casino violated its own policies, which requires that bettors first be warned about breaking the rules.

Jones said Ogundu was so inexperienced at craps, he bet both for and against the shooter, canceling out his wager.

"That should have been a sign to the casino that he was an inexperienced gambler," Jones said.

Contact DAVID ASHENFELTER at 313-223-4490 or dashenfelter@freepress.com.

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Copyright (c) 2007, Detroit Free Press

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