Bingo parlors used to be another target of the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI), but it looks like the agents of the State of Florida had their fill, and bit off more than they could chew, in the biggest of the bingo cases. I referred to the case briefly in my book, and had one important part incorrect: The two defendants and several corporations that took the criminal case to trial were acquitted on all counts by the jury. It is the civil case that they originally lost, was overturned on appeal, won, and is now once again in appeal status, according to the file. The bingo case began in 1995 and continues today.
Back in 1995 when the criminal case was filed there were 17 defendants, and 8 of those defendants were corporations. One of the acquitted defendants was Pondella Hall for Hire, Inc. – Pondella was in Orange County (Orlando), but this was a large-scale commercial bingo operation comprising 15 bingo halls in 12 Florida counties. Leave it to the overzealous MBI to be the investigators to pursue a racketeering (RICO) case. The criminal case is Case Number 95-CF-0012838, and it is an Orange County case. I have never seen so many filings on a case as this one, except in the civil case that continues. The civil case was also filed in 1995, as the state sought to forfeit all of the property of the bingo halls and the defendants. Today the victims also seek damages and losses from the State of Florida. The civil Case Number is 1995-CA-006890-0 and it is also in Orange County.
The two defendants that didn't plead guilty to the lengthy list of felony counts are Roy Killingsworth Jr. and Philip Leroy Furtney. I recall Furtney being in the news in leg-irons well over a decade ago, and must believe that it was during the criminal trial when he was being taken to court, but it may have been right after his arrest. Furtney was the one connected to Pondella, and the man is a legend – he fought these abusive overzealous whacks until he died in September of 2007. His brother Bruce, on behalf of his estate, carries on in the civil case today. The last filing on the case was on May 28, 2009. Can you imagine a 13 year fight over a bingo hall case and then to die before it's resolved? Well, it is resolved in that the state lost and has pay for all the forfeited property – today it's about how much they have to pay for property value changes and specifically what state office is paying.
It should be the end of the MBI for twisting the Florida racketeering statutes to the point of obscurity in a case that has cost Florida taxpayers an unknown sum of money that has yet to be revealed. But hey, it gave all the attorneys and agents something to do, right? I still have the MBI Governing Board minutes from meetings in 1994, and forward, wherein Pondella is discussed, so the board was well-aware of this abuse of the statutes. May Philip Leroy Furtney of Ontario rest in peace – eventually they will pay for all that they did.