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Gambling charges against Lebanon Legion post dismissed

HAVERHILL - Grafton County Attorney Lara Saffo has dismissed two felony counts of illegal gambling against an American Legion post in Lebanon.

In a filing at Grafton County Superior Court, Saffo said her office couldn't prove its case against Guyer-Carignan Post 22.

In the filing, she appeared to agree with the post's financial officer Bill Wilson who said in an interview earlier this year he believed the post was operating within the law in February when administrators organized and ran raffles "used to benefit charity."

"The activities at issue in this case were not done in accordance with the law," Saffo wrote.

"However, post indictment, evidence of the efforts of the ... American Legion to ensure that they were following the law came to light."

Attorney George Ostler of Norwich, Vt., who represents the Legion post, said Saturday he was "really happy for the Legion."

Calling the post's members and administrators "incredibly stand-up guys," who had no intention of breaking the law, Ostler said they worked hard following a similar incident in 2010 to make sure all their gaming activities were conducted within New Hampshire law.

He said that effort included having a 34-page document prepared that outlined their plans and getting approval by both the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission and the Lebanon Police Department for running games of chance in the future.

Ostler said, however, that the liquor commission somehow did not have a copy of that document this year prior to its agents' Feb. 1 gambling raid on the post.

In April, a Grafton County Superior Court grand jury indicted the post on two Class B felony counts for gambling, and a charge called "entertainment and entertainers."

The latter charge refers to gambling at an establishment that's licensed to sell "alcohol and/or liquor," according to the indictment.

State Liquor Commission agents raided the post Feb. 1 and confiscated about $15,000 in what they said were illegal gambling proceeds.

It was the second time in four years the post had been raided, though the state dropped the matter in the first incident and returned seized money.

Ostler said Saturday he would work now to have the state return the post's most recently seized money.

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