|By Mike Wereschagin, The Pittsburgh
Tribune-ReviewMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jun. 4, 2009--The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reinstated the casino license of a Scranton businessman accused 18 months ago of lying to the board about whether he was tied to organized crime.
Dauphin County prosecutors dropped perjury charges against Louis DeNaples in April, on the condition he turn his Poconos casino over to his daughter. DeNaples denied any mob connections.
The board's unanimous vote yesterday still bars DeNaples from profiting from Mt. Airy Casino Resort, but he is again allowed to enter the building and advise those who run it, including his daughter, Lisa DeNaples.
"Lifting the suspension, albeit with strict conditions, permits the investigative process surrounding both Mr. DeNaples' license renewal and request to divest ownership to proceed," said board lawyer Douglas Sherman.
DeNaples did not attend the hearing, board spokesman Doug Harbach said.
The board suspended DeNaples' license in February 2008, shortly after Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico filed the perjury charges. The suspension prompted an uproar among gambling opponents who said it proved the gambling board wasn't doing its job.
The suspension made public a fight between the board and state police over who should investigate applicants for casino licenses. Gov. Ed Rendell and state Auditor General Jack Wagner last month urged House Democrats to pass a law giving that authority to state police.
A spokesman for Rendell said he wasn't going to "second-guess" the board's decision.
"The gaming board did its best to protect the interests of prospective customers, as well as the interests of the commonwealth," said Chuck Ardo.
State Supreme Court Justice Max Baer yesterday swore in the board's new chairman, Greg Fajt. Rendell appointed Fajt, a former state legislator from Mt. Lebanon and Rendell's chief of staff for two years, to a three-year term.
"When I served during the formation of this agency, I always said that the staff assembled to take on the task of starting a new industry such as gaming was second to none," Fajt said. "As I return, what has been accomplished by this board and staff in just four years is nothing short of amazing."
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