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February 24, 2012 - 3:37pm

All three alleged bookies released from jail following bail review hearing

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.
Gregory Phillips Brian Bordinaro

Lance Engel

Three Batavia men, including two city firefighters, who are accused of operating an illegal gambling operation, are being released from jail this afternoon following a bail review hearing in city court.

All three entered not guilty pleas to the charge of criminal possession of gambling records, a Class E felony.

Gregory Phillips, 39, of Belvedere Lane, and Brian Bordinaro, 43, of Prospect Avenue, both city firefighters, along with 41-year-old Lance Engel, of Wade Avenue, who's a chef at the Western New York Veterans Home, were arrested Thursday following a six-month investigation.

The trio was initially arraigned Thursday and Justice Robert Balbick was required, because of the felony charge, to order them held in Genesee County Jail without bail pending a report by Genesee Justice of their bail status.

The report on all three recommended, because of their strong ties to the community, that they be released on their own recognizance.

Attorney Larry Andolina is representing Phillips. Asked what he made of the charges, he replied to a reporter, "Are you looking for something other than dumb?"

He added, "I think prosecuting somebody for gambling in New York State is at best, dumb. As I was leaving the Sheriff’s department today, there’s a sign with an arrow that says 'Batavia Downs Race Track and Casino' and it points that way. If you drive down that way, there’s lottery tickets on every corner, there’s Power Ball every where, I just don’t understand it."

Phillips is a longtime resident with extended family in the area. He's married with children and owns his home. He's worked for the city 17 years.

Phillips is also accused of possessing a small amount of cocaine and is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th.

Bordinaro is married, too, with one child at home and he's a homeowner. He's been employed by the city 18 years.

Engel has a wife and three children, owns his home and has been employed by the state for 17 years.

The alleged bookies had several friends and family members in the courtroom during the hearings.

Anolina explained that under state civil service law, the two city firefighters will stay on the payroll until the department files charges. Once charges are filed -- this is a process outside the judicial system -- the department will have 30 days to hold a disciplinary hearing or reinstate their pay.

The Rochester-based attorney reminded reporters that "suspects are innocent until proven guilty."

"These are good people," he said. "They are good men. We’re not dealing with people who are bad people. They are good family men."

COMING: The Sheriff's Office conducted a press conference this afternoon. We'll post a separate story on that later.

Peter O'Brien
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"I think prosecuting somebody for gambling in New York State is at best, dumb. As I was leaving the Sheriff’s department today, there’s a sign with an arrow that says “Batavia Downs Race Track and Casino” and it points that way. If you drive down that way, there’s lottery tickets on every corner, there’s power ball every where, I just don’t understand it."

You don't understand.....I do perfectly...... Emperor Cuomo the Second is not getting his cut.

Chris Charvella
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'Attorney Larry Andolina, from Rochester, is representing Phillips. Asked what he made of the charges, he told a reporter, "are you looking for something other than dumb?"

Oh man, can I buy this guy a beer? Truer words were never spoken.

Lisa Falkowski
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To be honest, I tend to agree.

From a devil's advocate viewpoint -
What about the other individuals and local establishments that have been penalized for similar incidents?
The law is the law.
The Batavia Downs paid for the permit to allow gambling.

It's perplexing. I am seeing 2 sides; though, again, I tend to agree with Chris and Peter overall.

John Roach
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Maybe gambling, drugs, prostitution, etc., should be legal. But until they are, and you get caught breaking thoes laws, too bad, so sad.

Peter O'Brien
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I think they should be prosecuted, but I also believe the law is wrong. If I was on the jury I would push for Jury Nullification. As I would with any drug possession charge or distributing if I could see that it was to adults only.

Eric Kingsley
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Possession is possession! If it were anybody else, they would have been hanged! in the 7th? i didnt even know that was possible. theres people who go to prison over pot.. and this guy has coke. Just another proof that its not what you do (ie, be a good person) its who ya know. these guys are supposed to be civil servants! where was their toxies? im sure there are tons of clean sober unemployed people that would love to have there jobs. The long and short of it is where theres one crime theres bound to be more. a gambling ring that has been under investigation for 6 months likely has more then just a "small" amount of cocaine associated with it. or else why would they have not just gambled at the downs? this is a lot bigger then a pool on the superbowl or a friday night poker game. 6 month investigation. There is ALOT more to this story. Id bet on it. no pun intended

Howard B. Owens
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Eric, nobody has been convicted of anything, so I don't know why you think anybody should be in prison.

jeff saquella
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theres people who go to prison over pot.. and this guy has coke. Just another proof that its not what you do (ie, be a good person) its who ya know. ..................what??? did this guy get off on his charges?.......eric....your statement makes no sence at all buddy

Rich Richmond
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Forget the gambling aspect and whether it should be legal, illegal or that they are merely stupid.

Two are City of Batavia Fireman whose wages and benefits are paid for by taxpayers.

Many of these mentioned taxpayers make far less than they do in wages and benefits, not to mention a guaranteed pension and many are barely making ends meet.

If the charges are true, how many Civil Service Laws did they violate assuming they made book when they were on duty?

If the charges are true, they are a disgrace to an honorable profession. They violated the public trust, a trust for which they were well compensated.

Jim Rosenbeck
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A 6 month investigation? I am baffled at how taxpayer money is squandered investigating victimless, consensual activity. The lesson here for these private citizens;
Don't try to compete with the government.

Jim Rosenbeck
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Seriously you think the public trust has somehow been violated?
Sounds more,like pension envy to me.

Bob Harker
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Remember boys and girls, gambling is baaaddd.

Unless the state is the bookie..

And Peter, I'm betting you won't be getting any jury notifications soon. :)

Rich Richmond
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YES SERIOUSLY.

See: The Link to the Office of the New York State Comptroller Division of Local Government and School Accountability.

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/conflictinterest.pdf

Next see the link to Article 18 of New York’s General Municipal Law: The State Conflict of Interest Law for Municipal Officials under the conflicts of interest law.

http://www.nysba.org/Content/NavigationMenu18/EthicsforMunicipalLawyers/...

Cj Gorski
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Hopefully if it's brought by a jury, they will nullify this.

Dave Meyer
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All those who say this is a victimless crime should ask themselves...what about the spouse who sees the family's finances eroded because of the gambler's activities.
Also, what about the taxpayers who pay the salaries of public employees who are conducting this (alleged) activity while they're on the job?

Would neither of these groups of people be considered victims? Get real!

Assuming the charges are proved these guys will probably get a hand slap as first offenders and be sent on their way. However, their job status could be (and in my opinion, should be) in serious jeopardy. How the hell do you screw that deal up? By being so arrogant that you think you'll never get caught.

If you want to make book and put your lifestyle in jeopardy, fine...that's your decision, but don't do it while I'm paying your salary.

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