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Burton man pleads guilty, agrees to pay restitution in charitable gaming larceny case

Detroit – A 56-year-old Burton man pled guilty Dec. 5 in Genesee County Circuit Court to a single felony count of larceny by false pretenses and will pay Flint-area charities $11,258 in restitution for diverting money from their charity poker events. Charges were filed earlier this year against Todd West following a Michigan Attorney General’s office and Michigan Gaming Control Board investigation of charity events at Gloria’s Poker Palace in Burton between 2010 and 2013.

At a pre-trial conference with Judge Geoffrey L. Neithercut, West pled guilty to the five-year felony of larceny by false pretenses of $1,000 to $20,000. He agreed to pay restitution in exchange for dropping two other felony counts of larceny by false pretenses and 10 Bingo Act violations. West will be sentenced in Genesee County Circuit Court on Feb. 2, 2017.

“Charities need every penny earned in fundraising to help the community,” said Richard Kalm, MGCB executive director. “West shortchanged charities by leading them to believe some of the diverted money was helping youth, but he actually was skimming profits. By enforcing Michigan gaming regulations, the MGCB helps charities avoid becoming victims of similar crimes.”

West, who arranged and operated charity gaming events at Gloria’s Poker Palace, admitted to stealing money from Blessed Sacrament Church, the church’s men’s club and rosary altar society, Knights of Columbus Council 11532 and Kearsley Hockey Boosters. He must pay the restitution within six months of sentencing.

West worked on charity poker events with former Bentley School Board member Michael McCollum, 52, of Burton, who pled guilty in June to two felony counts of larceny and 11 misdemeanor counts of charitable gaming violations. In September, McCollum was sentenced to 90 days in jail and required by plea agreement to pay $40,000 in restitution to Blessed Sacrament and St. Francis Xavier churches for stealing from their charity poker fundraiser proceeds.

Gloria’s and two other Flint area “poker rooms” --  Pocket Aces and Lucky’s  --  are among several Michigan locations where charitable gaming was discontinued following investigations. Since 2014, 14 people associated with Gloria’s, Pocket Aces and Lucky’s have pled guilty to gaming crimes following investigations by the Michigan Attorney General’s office and the MGCB.

"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."