Grand jury to continue state gaming board probe

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HARRISBURG -- Gaming officials may have been too quick to breathe a sigh of relief after a May grand jury report recommended no charges.

A second grand jury is being empaneled in Pittsburgh to continue the probe into alleged problems with the regulation and enforcement of gaming, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Grand jurors on the previous panel ended their term in the spring with plans to pass along transcripts of testimony to the new jurors, who are expected to be seated by September.

The new grand jurors also are expected to pick up their predecessors' probe of alleged corruption within the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, the sources said.

A grand jury is a closed proceeding in which selected jurors hear testimony and determine whether there is enough evidence to recommend charges. In Pennsylvania, unlike other states, grand juries cannot indict, but they can recommend charges against someone.

Before their 18-month term ended, the original grand jurors issued a scathing report condemning practices at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

They found that politically appointed supervisors forced gaming investigators to delete potentially damning information from reports that board members relied on when they awarded casino licenses.

Board Chairman Greg Fajt responded to the grand jury's report by admitting "minor missteps along the way" but no criminal wrongdoing or improprieties that affected the board's integrity or its decisions.

That initial report came with an indication that the investigation wasn't finished scrutinizing the board's actions.

In accepting the report, Cambria County Common Pleas Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III, who supervised the grand jury, said more details would be disclosed in a larger report by another grand jury.

Gaming board spokesman Doug Harbach said Thursday that he has heard no indication that members or employees remain the subject of any state grand jury probe.

A spokesman for the Turnpike Commission could not immediately be reached.


Tracie Mauriello: tmauriello@post-gazette.com or 717-787-2141. Bill Toland: btoland@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2625.


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