Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2019

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Slot cheat, former casino regulator, reputed mob figure added to Black Book

The Nevada Gaming Commission listed reputed Kansas City, Mo., mob figure Anthony "Tony Ripe" Civella in the book despite arguments Thursday from his lawyer, Oscar Goodman, that the book is just a publicity gimmick.

Also listed was Ronald Dale Harris, a former state Gaming Control Board staffer who pleaded guilty last year to four counts of slot-cheating.

The third person to be placed in the book Thursday was Jerry Dale Criner, who has a record of slot-cheating and money-laundering convictions and is on a similar "excluded person" list in New Jersey.

Goodman, arguing to keep Civella out of the "black book," described it as "a cosmetic device with no practical value but to gain publicity" for Nevada's casino industry overseers.

He also said Nevada moved too slowly against Civella because his record had been known for many years. To wait so long "smacks of punitiveness," he added.

Deputy Attorney General Mike Wilson countered that Civella hadn't been a threat until recently because he had been locked up in a federal prison in Texas for fraud in the resale of prescription drugs. He was released last June after serving four years.

Wilson also noted Civella, 66, was found guilty in 1975 of illegal bookmaking and in 1984 of holding hidden casino interests and skimming in Las Vegas, and for taking part in a murder conspiracy.

Civella's father, Carl, and uncle, Nick, were both "black book" members. Their names were removed years after they died. The Civella brothers once ran Kansas City's crime hierarchy,

In Harris' case, Deputy Attorney General Joe Ward noted he had pleaded guilty to four counts of slot-cheating by rigging slots at the Crystal Bay Club at Lake Tahoe and Fitzgerald's in Reno.

Harris, who worked for years as a technician with the GCB's electronic division, allegedly devised a computer program that inserted a gaff into computer chips used in slot machines that increased a player's chances of winning a jackpot.

Harris said he wouldn't fight state efforts to list him in the "black book." He's the first former Nevada gambling industry regulator to be listed.

Harris faces similar charges in Las Vegas, and was charged in Atlantic City in connection with a sophisticated scheme to cheat a hotel out of a $100,000 jackpot.

In Criner's case, the Gaming Commission was told by Deputy Attorney General Joe Ralston that he had several convictions, including two in Nevada that involved slot-cheating or cheating attempts.

Ralston said Criner also was convicted in a New Jersey slot-manipulation case; and did time in Oklahoma for his role in a money-laundering scheme.