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Former owners of Hampton restaurant nix gambling plea
BRENTWOOD — The former owner of a Hampton Beach seafood restaurant — since closed — pulled out of a decision to plead guilty to charges that the business had an illegal gambling operation in the fall of 2009.
The former owners of Lupo’s Seafood and Grille were expected to plead guilty on Wednesday morning to a misdemeanor gambling charge, but suddenly decided to take the case to trial later this month in Rockingham County Superior Court.
The decision marks the second time Michael Lupo — owner of the business — has decided to back out of a plea deal in superior court.
Lupo is not facing charges personally.
County prosecutors charged the corporation with running the gaming operation, seeking hefty fines that could total up to $100,000.
In the latest deal, Lupo’s business would have paid $5,000 in fines in exchange for admitting to running illegal gaming.
Hampton police raided the business on Nov. 21, 2009 with the help of Seabrook police and the state Division of Liquor Enforcement.
A search warrant was served both on the restaurant and a neighboring residence at 597 Ocean Blvd., also owned by Lupo, according to town records.
Police seized alleged gambling machines, computer equipment and an undisclosed amount of cash.
A Rockingham County grand jury in September 2010 returned four felony indictments against the business, located at 595 Ocean Blvd., for allegedly allowing gambling on its premises, according to the indictments.
Lupo’s Seafood allegedly operated the gambling machines between October 2009 and November 2009, indictments say.
Investigators allegedly saw Michael Lupo or another employee pay out an undisclosed amount of cash to a patron in exchange for points accumulated on a machine, according to the indictments.
Cooperating individuals also were paid by a Lupo’s employee for their winnings, the indictments allege.
Cash winnings were tabulated on a point system, prosecutors said.
Jury selection is set to begin the week of June 26.
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