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I-Team: State To Punish American Legion Over Illegal Gambling

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve
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BOSTON (CBS) – The I-Team uncovered illegal activity behind closed doors at an organization meant to help local veterans and now the leaders of that group are before the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission admitting they broke the law.

The I-Team went undercover at American Legion Post 121 in Berkley and what we found was completely illegal.

Just put your money on the table and the gambling gets underway. The bartender deals out the cards — called pull tabs — and our hidden camera clearly shows money being exchanged.

The post commander Stephen Thrasher, a former part-time Dighton police officer, tried to deny what appeared obvious.

“What games?,” Thrasher asked, even though the pull tabs were in clear view, inches from him behind the bar.

“Everything we do here is for the benefit of the American Legion and our members,” Thrasher said.

The ABCC didn’t see it that way and hauled out cases of illegal games, even finding a box load of pull tabs stashed in the commander’s truck.

Now Thrasher and other post officials find themselves before the ABCC, accused of permitting gambling and other license violations.

And this time, their lawyer, former Taunton State Representative James Fagan, did not even try to deny the allegations.

“They’ve recognized full well that they were wrong in doing this,” Fagan told the commissioners. “They had no intention to violate the law or do any of those other things.”

The ABCC took the matter under advisement, saying it will come back with a decision within 30 days. Possible penalties range from a fine to the suspension or revocation of the Legion post’s liquor license.

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