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Feds raid casino in San Bruno

 | Published on 3/3/2011


Federal officials swarmed Artichoke Joe’s in San Bruno yesterday morning, frisked its patrons and closed the card club’s doors to customers as investigators executed search and arrest warrants as part of a Bay Area-wide investigation into organized crime.

An Emeryville card club was also raided.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is leading the investigation but did not unseal the indictments as of last night although authorities had arrest warrants for more than a dozen people.

At least 10 locations throughout the Bay Area were searched as part of the investigation, including a home in Belmont, where investigators were seen carrying boxes out of a residence on Continentals Way at 8:30 a.m.

Artichoke Joe’s is owned by Dennis Sammut and managed, in part, by Ron Cox, a former Foster City councilman. Neither could be reached for comment yesterday.

The FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS and the state Justice Department’s Bureau of Gambling Control was executing arrest and search warrants with the help of local law enforcement agencies. The investigation has been ongoing for at least two years, federal officials said.

San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputies turned customers away from Artichoke Joe’s well into the afternoon yesterday as FBI investigators combed through the three-story card club at the edge of San Bruno’s downtown.

Deputies could not say how long the club might be closed, although it could be several days.

When the raid was conducted, each individual in the casino was detained until they could be identified, said FBI spokeswoman Julianne Sohn.

“Everyone had to be identified first,” Sohn said. Frisks were conducted before regular customers were allowed to leave the casino.

The warrants detailing who was sought for arrest and why were not unsealed yesterday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“We can’t give out any details right now,” said Jack Gillund, spokesperson for the office.

Artichoke Joe’s is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has 40 gaming tables. It is also one of San Bruno’s biggest tax contributors.