Lawsuit continues crackdown on computerized slot machine operators like NetStop and City Business Center that harbor criminal activity, create neighborhood nuisances
SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 19, 2015) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed suit against the owners and operators of Kingston Shack, an illegal gambling operation at 3437 Mission Street in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood that has defied multiple police citations by continuing to operate. The 10-page civil complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning alleges that the establishment flouts multiple state and local laws by soliciting patrons to play electronic slot machines for the chance to win cash payouts. If successful, Herrera’s litigation could permanently bring the illegal gambling to a halt, shutter the establishment for one year, secure penalties of $25,000 against each of the five named defendants, and amass significant additional civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each unlawful business act proven at trial.
“Illicit gambling dens like Kingston Shack are a terrible neighborhood nuisance,” Herrera said. “They inevitably harbor criminal activity, they diminish residents’ quality of life, and it’s no surprise that they quickly emerge as major targets of neighbors’ complaints. I hope my lawsuit today sends a clear message that we actively partner with our Police Department to shut these nuisances down, and that we will aggressively pursue maximum civil penalties to deter this kind of lawlessness. Thanks to the leadership of Police Chief Greg Suhr and the excellent work of San Francisco’s police officers, we’ve had a lot of success in closing down these illegal gambling operations previously. I’m certain that Kingston Shack’s owners and operators will come to regret that they didn’t take warnings from police more seriously.”
Herrera’s civil suit continues a string of enforcement actions targeting gambling-related neighborhood nuisances, which typically attract related criminal activity and dramatically increase calls to police from neighborhood residents. Herrera’s 2013 litigation against Net Stop Business Center in San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood forced the establishment’s closure nearly a year ago. That action also successfully secured a stipulated injunction from its gambling software vendor, Figure 8 Technologies Inc., to cease all of its operations in the State of California for five years. Within months of the Net Stop lawsuit’s filing, unlitigated enforcement actions ended similar illicit gambling operations at Cybertime and City Business Center.
Herrera currently names five defendants in his civil action involving Kingston Shack: Marlene Cruz, Norma Estrada and John Gregory Ibarra are owners or operators of the alleged illicit enterprise; and Lien Sheng Ho and Jian Rong Ma, as trustees of the Ho/Ma Family Trust, own the property where Kingston Shack operates. They are alleged to be in violation of California’s “Red Light Abatement Act” (Penal Code sections 11225-11235) over their illegal gambling operation; California Penal Code section 330b and San Francisco Municipal Police Code sections 325-327 for possessing and operating illegal slot machines; and California’s Unfair Competition Law for engaging in unlawful business practices.
The case is: City and County of San Francisco and People of the State of California v. Marlene Cruz, et al., San Francisco Superior Court case number CGC-15-544222, filed Feb. 19, 2015.
PDF of the Kingston Shack complaint presskit (February 19, 2015)
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