Father and son charged with operating illegal poker hall

A Maryland cop and his father were found guilty last week of operating an illegal poker hall in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Howard County police officer Michael "Tykie" Thorn, 40, and his father, Gary Allen Thorn Sr., 64, were sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Anne Arundel County police found hundreds of customized poker chips emblazoned with Thorn Jr.'s nickname "Tykie" when the establishment was raided on April 12, 2006. Officers also seized $2,345 from Thorn Jr., who was there with his father when police arrived.

Defense attorneys argued that the gambling hall was a place where people could learn the ropes of Texas Hold'em without having to wager money, and called James Robert Ozman to the stand to testify in defense of the accused.

Ozman, a frequent player at the poker hall who was present during the bust, originally said, "The game is not for money, it is for fun," and assured the court that the club was a place of learning. "It was just kind of instructional," he said.

However, after an assistant state attorney forced Ozman to read aloud from a police questionnaire he filled out immediately following the raid, in which he admitted to having won or lost $200-$300 at the club, Ozman said, "I don't want to lie anymore. We were playing a $5 to $10 poker game. I don't think that's the biggest crime in the world."

Gary Thorn Sr. was found guilty of two misdemeanor charges and his son was found guilty of five. District Judge Thomas J. Pryal sentenced Thorn Sr. to 16 hours of community service and ordered him to pay a $250 fine. Michael Thorn was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $500 fine.

Michael Thorn, a 19-year veteran of the Howard police force, was suspended without pay for 30 days by the Howard Police Department. His lawyer said he will be allowed to retire with full pension and benefits in February and will be on unpaid leave until then.

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