Five accused of skimming bingo funds

    FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Five people are accused of skimming about $1 million from charity bingo games at an American Legion post near Fort Wayne.
    The Journal Gazette reports that Allen County court records show that an Indiana Gaming Commission investigator believes that at least $988,000 was illegally taken from the games at American Legion Post 330 in New Haven and used to pay people who were supposed to be volunteers.
    The post had a gaming license that allowed it to host charitable bingo events three nights a week, court records show.
    Two people who authorities say managed the bingo games, Lana Brooks, 55, and Steven H. Bouse, 60, both of New Haven, are charged with corrupt business influence, theft, professional gambling and unlawful charity gaming contracting.
    Brooks’ husband and post trustee, Kenneth Brooks, 64, and James E. Schultz, 68, of New Haven, the post’s finance officer, are charged with aiding theft and aiding unlawful charity gaming contracting. John Gahan, 67, of Fort Wayne, who was the post’s finance officer off and on from 2006 through June 2010, is charged with aiding corrupt business influence, aiding theft, professional gambling and aiding unlawful charity gaming contracting.
    A statement put out by attorneys for the post and Schultz said they believe that former post leaders are the primary targets of the investigation.
    ‘‘We are confident that justice will prevail in a timely and appropriate resolution of this matter,’’ attorney Randy Hammond said.
    All five were released on their own recognizance. It was not known if the others had attorneys. The telephone number listed for the Brooks in New Haven had been disconnected, and there were no listings for Bouse or Schultz. A message seeking comment was left for Gahan at his home by The Associated Press.
    According to court records, Gahan told investigators that the post’s finance committee would meet weekly and put $1,000 in cash in two white envelopes to be delivered to Bouse and Lana Brooks. A woman who has not been charged would take the envelopes to a New Haven restaurant, where they would be given to Bouse and Lana Brooks or her husband.
    State agents said they witnessed a delivery during an April 18 stakeout, court records show. On June 27, investigators with a search warrant seized two white envelopes from the courier contained $1,000 each; ‘‘Lana Brooks’’ was written on one, and ‘‘Steve Bouse’’ was written on the other, court records said.
    During an interview with gaming officers, Lana Brooks said she was paid ‘‘to run Bingo’’ and that receiving payments to do so was illegal. She told them that Schultz had authorized the payments to her and Bouse and that Gahan had established the system of weekly $1,000 payments.
    Information from: The Journal Gazette,