A fire chief from South San Francisco has been accused of organizing illegal gambling at his fire station. James Selvitella aged fifty-two, got off with a misdemeanour charge after allegedly collecting cash and debts in between fire calls. Apparently, this illegal sports betting ring handled several thousands of dollars in betting daily. The gambling operation went public in 2007 when a fire-fighter lost almost $30,000 in a bet with the chief.
Indeed, between 2006 and 2009, Selvitella, who also owns a sports bar in Petaluma, California, solicited bets from fellow firefighters and would personally drop off winnings to gamblers, according to the District Attorney’s office. It seems that Selvitella would use his city telephone to place bets and the city computers to research bets follow games and track wagers, according to the court’s records.
After the case went public, Selvitella was brought before the personnel board and fired from the fire department in 2008.
Selvitella was not acting alone; he had two accomplices, and originally all three of them faced felony charges. Later on, the prosecutors dropped these charges and the three men pleaded no contest to misdemeanour illegal gambling. The accomplices, William Kirkpatrick, 63, of Redwood City and Louis Kristovich, 71, of Millbrae, each got 18 months of probation and 30 hours of community service. Selvitella also has to attend Gamblers Anonymous for a year. Seems that in this case, the fireman played with fire and got his fingers burnt!
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