Lazarus Pertginides was a big loser Monday night.
About 20 minutes before the kickoff of Monday Night Football, officers from several agencies served Pertginides a search warrant and arrested the Spokane man on two counts of felony professional gambling in the first degree, two counts in the second degree, and transmitting/receiving gambling information by telephone.
Gary Drumheller, East Region manager of the Washington State Gambling Commission, said Pertginides is alleged to process between $30,000 and $50,000 in sports bets a month, with most of his customers betting on football. A bookmaker customarily gets 10 percent of the cut.
When Spokane police handcuffed Pertginides and escorted him out of his apartment at 2731 W. Broadway into the bitter cold, he was met by reporters and TV camera lights.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Pertginides said while he was led into the back seat of a squad car. “There are 50,000 guys here for nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
Pertginides, 59, added, “I served in Vietnam to give you guys the right to do this to me?”
Drumheller said when police, gambling commission and FBI officials entered Pertginides’ apartment at approximately 5:30 p.m., he was taking bets for the Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers game over the phone.
Monday Night Football begins at 6 p.m. in the Pacific time zone.
Law officers confiscated a book that is believed to have names of Pertginides’ clients. They continued to search the apartment after the suspect was arrested.
Drumheller said the gambling commission and other agencies have been investigating Pertginides for about a year. However, they were familiar with the suspect for about 10 years.
Drumheller said Pertginides is believed to be an acquaintance of admitted bookie, Mafia informant and confessed killer Nicholas P. Mitola Jr. The Spokane mobster, by way of New Jersey, is awaiting sentencing on a federal conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“They knew each other. They hung out with each other. They knew what each other did,” Drumheller said.
Drumheller said further investigation will focus on gaining information on the person or people behind the bookmaker.
Officials also plan on pursing the people whose names appear in Pertginides’ book.
Betting is considered a third-degree misdemeanor.
Pertginides was taken to Spokane County Jail where he awaits arraignment.