Crime blotter: pull-tab chicanery

class=img_thumbleft>Pull-tabs, that cherished past-time of Minnesota barflies, are rife with opportunities for fraud. With so much loose cash floating through alcohol-impaired hands, there's bound to be a fair amount of mischief. But it's fairly rare that such petty fraud comes to light.

Earlier this month, however, an employee of the Viking Bar, the venerable West Bank watering hole and music venue, got nailed for just such chicanery. According to a criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court, some $10,000 in pull-tab tickets were cashed by an individual identified only as T.H. between September, 2004 and April of this year. When Minneapolis police officers confronted T.H. about his remarkable gambling success, he insisted that he had not cashed the winning tickets and that it wasn't his signature on the cards.

T.H. eventually led the officers to Viking manager George Alfonzo Bell. Bell initially denied signing the tickets, according to the complaint, but subsequently fessed up. He has been charged with one count of lawful gambling fraud and faces a maximum penalty of three years in jail and a $6,000 fine.

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