The new alleged king of video gambling for the Chicago mob told a federal judge Tuesday that his "whole nervous system's shot" -- but it wasn't because the feds had just arrested him.
Casey Szaflarski told the judge at his initial court hearing that he had just had spinal cord surgery.
"I take a lot of medicine, your honor," Szaflarski said. "My whole nervous system's shot."
Despite his medical conditions, Szaflarski, 52, who lives in the Bridgeport neighborhood, will be held behind bars at least until his bond hearing Friday, after federal prosecutor T. Markus Funk said he could pose a danger to the community or might flee before trial.
Szaflarski was charged as part of the criminal case against alleged Cicero mob boss Michael "The Large Guy" Sarno, reputed high-ranking Outlaw motorcycle gang member Mark Polchan and five other men.
As one possible indication of how lucrative the video gambling business can be, federal prosecutors are seeking $3.6 million in illegal gambling proceeds from Szaflarski, Sarno and Polchan as part of the criminal case against the men, according to a new forfeiture allegation added to the case.
Szaflarski also is charged with failing to report more than $255,000 in income on tax returns from 2004 to 2006.
Szaflarski apparently took over the video gambling business run by the onetime head of the Chicago mob, James Marcello, and his half-brother, Michael. Szaflarski allegedly told a government informant that he learned the video poker business from Michael Marcello.
Szaflarski is accused of sharing proceeds of his gambling business with Sarno, a reputed mob leader who's also been dubbed "Big Mike" and "Fat Ass," according to court documents filed in the case.
Sarno, in turn, is charged with ordering the pipe bombing of a Berwyn video and vending machine business in 2003 that was competing with Szaflarski's business.
Investigators from the FBI, IRS and ATF gathered evidence against Szaflarski when they raided more than 20 bars and restaurants in Chicago and the suburbs last year with illegal video gambling machines. They seized thousands of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds and stripped the video poker machines of their circuit boards.
State lawmakers recently legalized video gambling, but bars and restaurants can't legally operate the devices until state regulators fashion rules overseeing what will be the largest expansion of gambling in Illinois history and distribute licenses.
Thanks to Steve Warmbir
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