Pennsylvania casino owner is charged

Harrisburg – Mount Airy Casino Resort owner Louis DeNaples was charged today with four counts of perjury for lying to state regulators about not having ties to two mob figures from Northeastern Pennsylvania and two men swept up in the federal corruption probe of Philadelphia City Hall.

A grand jury found that DeNaples, 67, a wealthy Scranton businessman, misled gaming regulators by denying having connections with the late mob boss Russell Bufalino and his protégé and one-time driver, William D’Elia, the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office announced. Prosecutors also said that DeNaples also lied about his relationships to the late Ron White, a chief fund-raiser for former Mayor Street who was swept up in a broad political corruption investigation in Philadelphia before his death; and Shamsud-din Ali, the West Philadelphia imam who was charged in connection with that corruption investigation.

Such connections might have prevented him from winning one of the five state’s 14 lucrative slots licenses.

„Perjury is a serious offense,“ said Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico. „When an individual violates the oath to tell the truth, consequences follow. That is why we’re here today.“

Marsico said that DeNaples will be allowed to turn himself in, likely later this week or early next week.

Ted Chylack, one of the attorneys representing DeNaples, said he could not comment on the charges yet because he had not yet seen a copy of the grand jury’s presentment.

DeNaples was awarded a casino license in December 2006. He opened the state’s first stand-alone slot-machine casino in Paradise Township in the Pocono Mountains in October.

A political and business power in the Scranton area with large land holdings and widespread business interests, DeNaples won his casino license after assuring state regulators that he had no connection with mob figures, including D’Elia.

D’Elia has been among dozens of people called to testify before the grand jury.

Arrested more than a year ago on money-laundering and murder-conspiracy charges, D’Elia, 61, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted. But some law enforcement and underworld sources believe that D’Elia may be looking for a way out by cooperating.

Unknown is what, if any, information D’Elia has provided to the grand jury.

Late last year, DeNaples‘ lawyers tried to end the grand jury’s inquiry, claiming among other things that Ed Marsico, the Dauphin County district attorney, did not have jurisdiction to handle the case through the grand jury process.

The state Supreme Court temporarily froze the grand jury’s work while it considered the request, but last month ruled against DeNaples.