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Judge Halts Trial against Chicago Sweepstakes Machine Company Owner

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A lawsuit filed against the owner of a Chicago sweepstakes machine company, who faces accusations of an alleged loan extortion scheme, recently hit a snag after a witness in the trial mentioned organized crime, the Chicago Tribune reports. The case involves two Addison residents, Gene “Gino” Cassano, 55, as well as Gioacchino “Jack” Galione, 47. The two are facing charges of conspiring to collect a debt through extortion. Additionally, Galino’s accusations claim he resorted to violence to collect a loan from a victim.

The lawsuit stems from an incident dating back to August 1, 2016. At the time, Luigi Mucerino was allegedly assaulted by Galione over an outstanding $10,000 loan, prosecutors claim. The victim claimed that he was returning home from a business trip when he was called by his worried wife after someone was banging on the doors and windows of their home.

Mucerino claimed he received a call from Galione on the same night and agreed to meet with him in his garage. Once the duo arrived at the garage, the victim claimed he was knocked out by Galione.

According to Mucerino, he didn’t have a chance to ask what the purpose of the meeting is. He later claimed that once he came back to his senses, he saw Galione who stood over him. When asked why he was hit, the victim claimed he was told it “was just business.”

Mention of Organized Crime Results in a Mistrial

The trial against the two hasn’t been going smoothly at all. There was a total of six motions for mistrial by the defending teams. However, in an unexpected turn of events, a federal judge decided on Friday to declare a mistrial after a witness testimony mentioned organized crime.

David Patch, a special agent with the FBI, testified recently and when he was asked about his professional background said that he was involved in investigations of national and international “organized crime matters.” This statement immediately captured the attention of the defense teams who objected. Subsequently, US District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ended the trial for the day and subsequently declared a mistrial.

In a written statement, Damon Cheronis and Todd Pugh, the defense attorney representing Galione and Cassano claimed that the prosecution “has been attempting to find ways to inject organized crime gloss to this case from the jump.” The lawyers also wrote: “Of course, nobody is entitled to a perfect trial but there must be a line and this court has to be standing on that line and protecting the rights of these two men because the government has abandoned its post.”

Considering the mistrial, the jury was discharged last week. This snag further delays the legal case as the trial will now have to start once again.

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