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Busted New Kensington club has history of illegal gambling, liquor violations

Brian C. Rittmeyer
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Dan Speicher | For The Tribune-Review
The Spartaco Club, along the 2200 block of Constitution Boulevard in New Kensington, as seen on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.

A New Kensington club allegedly running an illegal casino in its basement has a history of liquor law violations, including two previous gambling cases.

After a two-month undercover investigation, officers from the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement served a search warrant Tuesday night at the Spartaco Sporting Club on Constitution Boulevard.

Authorities said they seized 19 video poker machines, gambling documents and $548.

“They had quite an operation going on there,” state police Sgt. Steve Driscoll said.

Driscoll said a complaint of illegal gambling at the club prompted the investigation.

Angelo Spataro and John Borgo are listed as the club's officers with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

They did not respond to requests for comment, and a call to the club was not returned.

Driscoll said criminal charges for illegal gambling would be filed “relatively soon.” State police would not say who would be facing charges.

State police would not say who owns the video poker machines, citing the open investigation.

In addition, administrative violations are pending for sales to visibly intoxicated persons, sales to nonmembers, and for having an interior connection to another business without the control board's approval.

The club's liquor license remains active, Liquor Control Board spokesman Shawn Kelly said.

The license expires June 30. Kelly said the renewal process would begin a few months before, during which its citation history is reviewed in determining if a license should be renewed.

According to the Liquor Control Board, the Spartaco Club had 11 citation cases between February 1993 and June 2012.

The club has been fined nine times for a total of $6,400. Its license has been suspended seven times; five times, it received a suspension of its liquor license and a fine.

Suspensions ranged from one to seven days, Kelly said.

The single-largest fine, $1,650, was handed down in 2003 and involved one of two previous instances of gambling. According to records, gambling or lotteries were taking place at the club in December 2002.

The other gambling offense dates from Nov. 1, 1999 to July 16, 2000, when on 158 dates the club allegedly possessed or operated gambling devices, or permitted gambling or lotteries, pool selling and/or bookmaking on the premises. It was penalized with a suspension and a $1,000 fine.

The club was most often cited for selling alcohol to nonmembers, or for sales between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m.

The Spartaco Club was founded in 1929. It was named after the Roman gladiator and has been a hub of Italian traditions.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701 or at [email protected].

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