The owner has flouted the law for years, attracting crime to the neighborhood
SAN FRANCISCO (March 5, 2018) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced today he had filed a lawsuit this morning against the owners and operators of the Silver Shack, an illegal gambling den in the Outer Mission that has attracted frequent unlawful activity and created a public nuisance. For years the owner has operated an array of digital gambling machines in violation of both state and local law, refusing to permanently shut down despite numerous San Francisco Police Department raids and arrests.
“The Silver Shack has been a blight on the community for far too long. It will no longer be tolerated,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. “For years neighbors have had to deal with the consequences of this illegal enterprise. Despite other attempts to shut it down, the property owner and operators concocted ways to resurface. Not this time.”
“This gambling den is like a weed,” Herrera said. “It has been cut down before. Now we’re pulling out the roots to ensure it doesn’t come back. We are holding to account the people responsible — the property owner and the operators. Our approach is straightforward: we’re focusing on the building they own and their wallets. Others looking to make a quick buck off this type of lawbreaking are on notice. We take these matters seriously. We are going to protect our neighborhoods.”
The complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court names property owner Eduardo C. Bato, and managers and operators Angelica C. Bato, Malcolm Vasquez, Kenneth Gurriere and Orlando Leonor as defendants. It alleges they engaged in unlawful business practices by violating gambling laws, performed unpermitted construction, and violated building and planning codes.
Operating since at least January 2014 out of 4182 Mission Street under different names, including registering as a thrift store named Jhec of all Trades and later Leisure Time, the business has been a magnet for criminal and nuisance activity, endangering the surrounding community. Dozens of arrests for drug use, methamphetamine sales, stolen vehicles, theft, and patrons wanted on outstanding warrants have occurred at the Silver Shack since it opened up. The owner also performed illegal construction to the interior of the building to change its use from an office to a gambling establishment, violating building and planning codes in the process.
The defendants tried to hide the illegal gambling from the public. The window on the main entry door was covered with a reflective mirror material, but patrons wishing to gamble using the computerized machines needed only to knock on the front door for entry. A security guard generally manned the door.
Once inside, patrons could find machines to play multiple games of chance including “spinning reel” slot machine games, poker, blackjack, and other card games, and lotto or keno-type “pick and win” games. Patrons who inserted cash into the machines obtained “points” or “credits” to play. Patrons played by selecting buttons on the video displays or on the machine, and won or lost their “points” or “credits” as they played. The machines keep track of the patron’s “wins,” and patrons collected their winnings from a cashier who paid them in cash.
On Nov. 29, 2016, the San Francisco Police Department executed a search warrant and seized nine gambling devices and arrested several occupants, including defendant Vasquez. Only a couple of months later they reopened as a new illegal gambling establishment, adding new devices in the form of computer terminals connected via a network. On Oct. 17, 2017, the police executed another search warrant, seizing three stand-up arcade-style slot machines and 15 computer terminal gaming machines, arresting several occupants, including defendants Vasquez and Gurriere.
Herrera is asking the court to order the closure of the Silver Shack for one year or damages equal to the fair market value of the building for one year. Herrera is also seeking penalties of at least $200 per day for each day that the code violations existed, civil penalties of $25,000 against each defendant, and penalties of $2,500 for each violation of the Unfair Competition Law, among other things.
The case is: People of the State of California v. Eduardo C. Bato et al., San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC-18-564770, filed March 5, 2018. Additional documentation from the case is available on the City Attorney’s website at: sfcityattorney.org.