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Feds Seize Chinatown Building In Gambling Case

Government Will Sell The Property And Keep Majority Of Proceeds

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Last week, the federal government of the United States claimed a six-story New York City Chinatown building valued at about $17 million in a case related to illegal gambling.

The building’s owner — Won & Har Realty Corporation — had to forfeit the property after it was determined that it was aware of the illegal gambling going on and didn’t take any action to stop the operation. In other words, it wasn’t an “innocent owner,” as it tried to claim.

Won & Har will forfeit the building to the United States. The feds will sell the building, retain 65 percent of the proceeds of the sale after accounting for the costs of selling it, and then return the remainder of the proceeds to Won & Har Realty.

According to public documents filed in Manhattan federal court:

“For at least the two years prior to the filing of a civil forfeiture complaint in May 2012, the Building consistently hosted a group of illegal gambling operators offering various gambling options, including pai gow poker and computer-based slot machine games. For nearly a year after a search conducted by law enforcement in 2011, which resulted in the seizure of hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling proceeds, illegal gambling continued to be conducted openly in the building, within full view of any passersby in the building’s public hallways. In addition, a large sign advertising gambling was displayed on the front of the building.”

In May of 2012, 11 individuals were arrested in the raid.

The case was handled by the office of Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Bharara was also the man behind the Black Friday indictments against the major offshore online poker sites and is generally not well-liked by the poker community.