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Ex-MiCGA board member pleads guilty to running a criminal gambling house at Waterford bar

Detroit - A former Michigan Charitable Gaming Association (MiCGA) board member could face up two years in state prison or a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty Monday, May 18, in Oakland County Circuit Court to maintaining a gambling house for gain in Waterford.

Joseph B. Puertas, 54, owner of the Shark Club at 6665 Highland Road, was charged with illegal gambling following a February 2012 joint investigation by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) and the Michigan State Police. The Michigan Lottery’s Charitable Gaming Division, which formerly regulated charitable poker, requested MGCB’s assistance when the illegal activities were discovered.

“Shark Club previously hosted millionaire parties, and our investigators discovered poker games were being played on multiple occasions at the Shark Club without any charity involvement,” said Richard Kalm, MGCB executive director. “By running an unlicensed gambling business at the Shark Club, Puertas undermined all charitable gaming.”

Puertas forfeited more than $11,800 in suspected illegal gambling proceeds from poker games played from Feb. 10-13, 2012. The MGCB disallowed charitable poker games at the Waterford bar in 2012.

Arraigned Jan. 30 on a state felony charge of running a gambling operation without a license, Puertas was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. He later pled guilty to the lesser high court two-year misdemeanor charge.

“The MGCB appreciates the support of the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Attorney General’s staff in uncovering and prosecuting gambling crimes that hurt charities’ opportunities for legitimate fundraising,” Kalm said.

The Waterford man is scheduled for sentencing July 2 in Oakland County Circuit Court.

Puertas served on the MiCGA board of directors from 2009 to 2011. He joins several former MiCGA board members identified as state gaming law violators since the MGCB began regulating millionaire parties in 2012.

"The Michigan Gaming Control Board shall ensure the conduct of fair and honest gaming to protect the interests of the citizens of the State of Michigan."