Couple settles bingo suit for $400K

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2002

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage couple running one of Alaska's biggest bingo operations has paid the state $400,000 to settle civil fraud charges accusing them of bilking charities out of profits.

Mark and Sue Griffin were accused by the state in 1998 of squeezing excessive rents and management fees from nonprofit groups, which by law are supposed to benefit from bingo and pull-tab games. A trial was scheduled to begin next month.

Under the settlement, the Griffins admitted no wrongdoing and Sue Griffin continues to run Northern Lights Bingo in Anchorage.

The state will decide how to distribute the $400,000 settlement to charities, said assistant attorney general Randy Olsen.

The Griffins have changed their way of doing business since the state went to court, both sides said.

Mark Griffin has gotten out of gaming and Sue Griffin now runs Northern Lights Bingo as a licensed operator.

The state cited a long list of grievances, including what it said were Sue Griffin's towering management fees.

"Ms. Griffin never or rarely attends bingo sessions," said the state's complaint. "Her management oversight consists largely of being available by telephone in case anyone at the bingo halls has a question they cannot answer.

She does not keep regular hours, is out of state for months at a time, and spends little or no time working on behalf of the (charities). For this service, she charges and receives almost $200,000 per year."

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