Police have cracked down on gambling at an area seafood processing plant.
Eileen Ceralde, Marlyn Baker, Luisa East, Amelito Maglasang, and Perla Salacup have all been charged with promoting unlawful gambling. The crime is a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for the crime is a $10,000 fine and a year in prison.
The Unalaska Department of Public Safety launched their investigation in July, after receiving a tip that high-stakes games were going on at Unisea. Michael Centeno, an employee with the company, filed a complaint that he had played a game called “paycheck poker” and that the organizers were profiting. Sgt. Jennifer Shockley explains the rules.
“Essentially, everybody antes up some sum of money. Twenty dollars was what seemed to be kind of the standard amount, but not the only amount,” says Shockley. “Your poker hand was determined by some numbers on your paycheck. That correlates somehow to cards in a poker hand.”]
It worked kind of like an underground raffle. Maglasang, 31, allegedly put together the game Centeno played. The prize was a Coach handbag worth $280, and 14 people bought into the game. But the organizer played for free. That’s why this situation is illegal and a Saturday night poker game isn’t.
“So, if you’re sitting around with a bunch of your friends, and you guys are playing poker, and everybody’s anteing up – you know, you’re winning some, you’re losing some – but your winnings at the end of the game are based solely and exclusively on what you chose to bet,” says Shockley. “That’s very different from you organizing a poker game with a bunch of your friends, and essentially, in some fashion, coming out ahead regardless of what you bet.”
And that’s a problem, even if you’re only coming out ahead by a small amount.
“So it’s a very small amount that you’ve benefitted, but you have just gained $20 because you’re not having to pay the same thing that everybody else is,” says Shockley.
As the investigation progressed, police realized that gambling at the processing plant was pretty widespread. They were also able to charge four women involved in a round of paycheck poker that was played on August 14.
According to court documents, Eileen Ceralde, 34, organized a game that involved 200 participants. There were multiple prizes, and a winning ticket could earn you cash, a Bowflex exercise machine, or even a Jeep Liberty. It was such a high-stake game that Ceralde paid three coworkers to bring in more players. She told police that she paid Perla Salacup, 51, a total of $250 to collect antes. Marlyn Baker, 47, also admitted to receiving $200 for recruiting six players. Luisa East, 51, admitted to earning $300 from Ceralde.
Salacup, Baker, and East told police that they had also organized other games of paycheck poker in the past.
The winner of the Jeep Liberty also provided information in the case. Estrella Ricardo stated that her buy-in was up to $100. She added that she eventually sold the Jeep for $5,000 because she did not possess a driver’s license.
While Unisea frowns upon gambling, the company does not have a policy against workers participating in games on their own personal time.
The charges were filed in mid-September, and arraignments are scheduled for October 16. None of the persons accused have a criminal history in Alaska.