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Cafe Owner Accused of Having Gambling Device

Claimed machine sitting on bar didn't belong to him, police said.

The owner of a Main Street cafe was arrested by warrant Thursday for allegedly possessing a gambling device.

Police said the arrest of George Pampoukidis came about after his establishment, Athens Cafe, was inspected on Sept. 30 by agents from the state's Liquor Control Commission, accompanied by members of the state police and Norwalk officers.

Norwalk Police spokeswoman Sgt. Lisa Cotto said the investigators found a gambling device sitting on the bar. Cotto said Pampoukidis allegedly claimed it wasn't his machine and he didn't know who owned it.

Cotto said Pampoukidis allegedly said he found the machine in the basement when he purchased the cafe at 144 Main St.

Cotto said a customer used the device by inserting cash into it to obtain credits. The customer pressed a button to activate the device, which would then add or deduct credits.

Cotto said a customer won if, at the end of play, the device showed a gain in credits. She said Pampoukidis would then pay the customer cash out of the "house account."

Cotto said although Pampoukidis denied owning the machine, he did have a key to open the cash drawer. The investigators seized the device.

Pampoukidis, 51, of 89 Strawberry Hill Ave., was charged with Seizure of Gambling Device, a Class A misdemeanor. He was held on $1,500 bond and given a court date of Oct. 25.

State statute defines a gambling machine, in part, as being "any device or mechanism by the operation of which a right to money, credits, deposits or other things of value may be created as the result of the operation (involving an) element of chance."

State statute says all gambling devices are common nuisances and, if found in a place known or suspected to be a gambling premise, are subject to seizure immediately upon detection by any peace officer.

The director of the state's Liquor Control Commission, John Suchy, said on Friday the reports prepared by investigators would be reviewed to determine if a hearing needed to be held to consider revoking Pampoukidis' liquor permit. Hearings are not automatically called for as the result of a liquor permittee being found in possession of a gambling device, Suchy said.

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