Yesterday we talked about the Miami Herald breifly mentioning the "maquinita" story in one of their articles from last week and now the Miami New Times picks up our coverage of the maquinitas. Our friend Francisco Alvarado went one step further than we did with regards to the expert witness report and analysis of the maquinitas in police custody, he actually reached out to the expert witness, D. Robert Sertell, and gave him a call regarding the report. From the article...
You know those gambling maquinitas in convenience stores around Miami, Hialeah, Opa-locka, and Miami Gardens? Turns out Miguel Exposito was right and then some about the racket. Last year, Miami's then-police chief fell out of favor with Mayor Tomás Regalado when cops confiscated 105 "video amusement" machines from dozens of markets, cafeterias, and laundromats.
Exposito said the devices were being used for illegal gambling purposes. When Regalado allegedly tried to stop the raids, the top cop reported the mayor to the FBI for meddling in a criminal investigation. Eventually, Exposito was forced out. But three months before the chief's departure, a gambling machine expert hired by the Miami city attorney's office concluded the seizedmaquinitas were indeed for gambling purposes.
What's more, D. Robert Sertell -- a former slot machine mechanic for an Atlantic City casino -- found that many of them were rigged to make sure the user always lost. Sertell's findings were never made public until recently.
After reading about it on Mike Hatami's blog the Strawbuyer, Banana Republican contacted the gambling expert. Sertell said he spent three days in June 2011 analyzing the machines seized by Miami police officers. "They were designed and manufactured specifically for the purpose of gambling," he said. "It's a slam dunk."
Furthermore, Sertell continued, most of the maquinitas were designed to cheat the customer. He explained that the confiscated machines would not be allowed inside establishments where gambling is legal in Florida. He should know. He has inspected gambling machines for 15 years and has a contract with the state to keep an eye on slots.
If the maquinitas held by Miami police were in a casino, Sertell said, they "would get immediately shut down and whoever was responsible for them would be subject to punitive action."
Even though he was paid $5,221 by the city, no one asked him to provide a written report, Sertell said. He typed one up only after a former Miami police official recently requested a copy. He declined to name the official. (Hatami tells Banana Republican he obtained his copy from a concerned private citizen.)
However, the city might still call on Sertell to give testimony in an ongoing lawsuit filed by the owners of the maquinitas who want their machines back.
Regalado and City Attorney Julie Bru did not reply to four phone messages seeking comment. Ricardo Merida, the lawyer for the maquinitas owners, declined to comment because he had not read Sertell's report.
However, one of their clients, Miguel Gonzalez, scoffed at Sertell's assertions. "He doesn't know what he's talking about," said Gonzalez, who lost ten machines in the raid. "I'm just a hard worker trying to make a living for my family."
Nice! Isn't it amazing that no matter who the machines are taken from, their line is always something along the lines of "I'm just a hard worker trying to make a living" or "We are not breaking the law, we are just providing entertainment for people who choose to eat a meal here", yet these are the same characters that'll brag about how much money they take in every week from these same machines that they know are rigged to screw the players. Whatever. At the very least we know that there's more people paying attention to this somewhat forgotten maquinita story now.
I'm going to attend an important court hearing this afternoon regarding former City of Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito and his termination from his post as police chief by the City of Miami commission last year. I'll update early this evening with the results.