Saturday, July 12, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

$2,500 Parx winner ends up in prison

Bensalem police say it was "coincidence" that an Altoona man was arrested on outstanding drug charges hours after he won big at the casino.

$2,500 Parx winner ends up in prison

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Mateen Johnson

Mateen Johnson couldn’t lose at Parx Casino’s blackjack tables, winning $2,500 Friday night.

But the 34-year-old Altoona man’s luck ran out Saturday morning, when a Bensalem Township police officer “came across him” and arrested him on outstanding drug charges.

Now, Johnson and his winnings are being held in Blair County Prison.

Altoona police said that when Johnson cashed out on Friday, Parx officials checked his identification, learned of a warrant, and called police. An ID check and the filing of an Internal Revenue Service form are required for winnings of $1,200 or more, said Doug Harbach, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.  

But Johnson’s arrest was strictly “a coincidence” that was made miles from Parx and without a call from casino officials, Bensalem Sgt. Andrew Aninsman said Tuesday.

“It was an officer conducting an investigation of wanted people who came across him at one of our motels on Lincoln Highway,” Aninsman said.  “It was a coincidence that he [Johnson] had been at the casino.

Aninsman said it was unlikely that the casino, which routinely cooperates with police, would have known about the warrant.

“If they knew he was wanted, they would have called us,” Aninsman said. “I don’t know how they would have known he was wanted.”  

A Parx spokesman did not respond to phone and e-mail messages.      

Johnson, who was found with a small amount of pot, was taken to the Bensalem Police Department for the warrant, Aninsman said. Bucks County sheriffs later took him to the county prison, where Altoona officers picked him up.  

Johnson told those officers that he had gone to the casino to raise some cash because he was planning to turn himself in and wanted make his bail, the Altoona Mirror reported.

His $2,500 winnings came up quite a bit short. He’s being held on $200,000 bail.

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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