Action News exposes gambling-for-charity scheme

NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio - Some northeast Ohioans lost their life savings to a gambling-for-charity scheme that Tom Meyer, The Investigator, was the first to expose.

One of the victims who asked to simply be called Kathy said that she feels "taken advantage of." Like so many others, she paid good money to play instant bingo and the slots at Goldnugget Bingo.

It was all for a good cause … at least that's what Kathy was led to believe.

"We were told it was going to help underprivileged kids, education and things like that," Kathy said.

Goldnugget Bingo is now nothing more than an empty office. It's out of business, but police still want to know where all of the profits went.

Some money, they say, paid for private school tuition for two children whose parents were Goldnugget volunteers.

Gwen Widlewski, of Parma Heights, had her kid's tuition paid for at Saint John Bosco with cash that police said should have gone to charity. Another Goldnugget worker, Diedre Kalin, of North Royalton, paid for her child's tuition at Ursuline College with gambling profits.

"My kids aren't getting paid to go to private schools," Kathy said. "I think it's kind of crappy."

Police confiscated eight illegal slot machines -- machines which generated nearly $2 million in sales. It was money that was supposed to go to an inter-city church. Police and prosecutors are now saying, however, that Saint Anthony Holy Science Church is a sham parish used to sponsor illegal gambling.

"The charity didn't complain because the person who set this up is Mr. Fred Taylor," North Royalton Police Det. John Barsa said. "His brother is the pastor of the church."

And guess what? Taylor is also a retired Cleveland cop. He and nine Goldnugget workers have all been indicted on 86 felony counts, including illegal gambling, money laundering and racketeering.

Action News tried to speak with Taylor, but he did not return numerous phone calls.

Widlewski told The Investigator that she didn't know it was illegal to use gambling profits for her child's education.