Charges dismissed in Colorado poker case amid confusion

Charges laid against three Palmer Lake, Colorado, poker playing residents were dropped by the El Paso County District Attorney's Office last Thursday, January 12, it has been revealed. Diane DeKeyser and Trish and Ed Flake were part of a group of 22 people playing cards at local restaurant Guadala Jarra's on April 26, 2005, when it was raided by a SWAT team. All 22 players were cited for violating state gaming laws, including a former police chief.

Subsequent to the raid, the District Attorney's Office suggested the misdemeanor charges be dropped against all 22 offenders on condition each offender donate $50 to a charity of their choice. While 19 of the players happily accepted the deal, the Flakes and DeKeyser refused on the grounds they were not violating state gaming laws.

According to DeKeyser, her and the Flakes' refusal to pay was not out of an unwillingness to support local charities, but because "We just did not feel like we were guilty of the offense and were not willing to plea bargain."

The case highlighted widespread confusion surrounding Colorado gaming laws. Gaming Division spokesman Don Burmania admits that, at the time, laws permitted people who had a "bona fide social relationship" to partake in gambling outside of casinos. And, despite the fact that the District Attorney's Office had no prior knowledge of the SWAT team's intention to raid the dining establishment, authorities maintain that undercover agents who had no personal relations with fellow players were participating in poker games at the restaurant - thus contradicting the claim's of the defendants.

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