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Las Vegas bar surrenders gaming license after bartenders caught selling drugs

Updated August 22, 2019 - 6:02 pm

There’ll be no more smuggling at the Smuggle Inn.

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday approved a stipulation for settlement in which the now-closed dive bar on Valley View Drive near the Las Vegas Country Club surrendered its restricted gaming license after undercover police detectives caught bartenders selling drugs.

The vote was unanimous, and it took just five minutes for commissioners to sign off on the settlement agreement filed Aug. 2 by the state Gaming Control Board following an investigation in December by Metropolitan Police Department detectives.

Senior Deputy Attorney General John Michela told commissioners Thursday that the owner of the Smuggle Inn, Richard DiCandilo, attempted to surrender the license prior to the complaint being filed. However, the board declined to accept it and required the license be tendered through the complaint-and-settlement process so that a public record was made of the violations.

DiCandilo, who has owned the Smuggle Inn for 30 years and is 73, admitted to the allegations, didn’t contest the complaint and indicated he mistakenly trusted employees who were caught.

“A number of months ago, (DiCandilo) gave the keys to the landlord and walked away from the business,” his attorney, Dennis Gutwald, told commissioners.

State statutes and regulations allow authorities to discipline licensees through fines, but DiCandilo and Smuggle Inn weren’t fined in the case.

According to the Control Board complaint, Metro undercover detectives bought cocaine or methamphetamine from two bartenders on two separate occasions and found a third in possession of illegal substances on another date. The three bartenders weren’t named in the complaint.

The complaint said Metro became aware Dec. 9 of several Smuggle Inn employees selling illegal controlled substances from behind the bar. An undercover detective bought cocaine from the bartender that day. An arrest warrant has since been issued.

A second undercover cocaine buy occurred Dec. 17 at the bar, the complaint states. The complaint gave no indication of whether the bartender was apprehended.

On Dec. 26, Metro executed a search warrant at the bar and a third bartender there was found in possession of 69.3 grams of cocaine, 5.7 grams of methamphetamine and $6,222 in cash.

That bartender pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell on Jan. 22.

Metro cited DiCandilo for allowing narcotic sales within his business and suspended his license.

Gaming regulators cited DiCandilo for violating gaming license suitability statutes and the catch-all Regulation 5 addressing activity that would be unsuitable involving the “public health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare of the people of the state of Nevada or that would reflect or tend to reflect discredit upon the state of Nevada or the gaming industry.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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