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November 17, 2022 Legal, Technology, Land Based, Finance

Illegal slots machine operation blamed for store clerk death

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A lawsuit has been filed against the slot manufacturers and store in Hazelton, Pennsylvania.

A lawsuit was filed on Wednesday over the death of Ashokkumar Patel, a Hazelton, Pennsylvania convenience store clerk. An illegal slot machine operation was running at Craig's-Sunoco store, which was robbed on December 12 2020, leading to Patel’s death.

The lawsuit alleges that the illegality of the slot machine operation meant that it did not have the proper security measures in place that made it a target for armed robbery. Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky (SMB), a personal injury law firm, stated that the store: “prioritized profits over the safety of the defenseless clerk.”

Patel had been working at the Sunoco-affiliated retailer for just under a week before he was murdered. He was mopping the floor when he was fatally shot at 9:30PM at close range by the gunman, a local resident, and known drug dealer, according to police.

The shooter was a frequent gambler and often visited the store’s illegal video slot machines which were designed and manufactured by the defendants in the case. These defendants are Pace-O-Matic (POM), Sunoco and their affiliated companies, along with Miele Manufacturing of Williamsport.

SMB representative Larry Bendesky commented: “As noted in the complaint, these illegal gambling devices have a long and nefarious history in our Commonwealth's criminal justice history as magnets for violent criminals looking for an easy score.

"They know that the small stores that typically provide them are stocked with thousands of dollars to make instant cash payouts, and lack any of the necessary security measures to protect the low wage, front-line workers and customers.

“As a result, the combative, controversial industry that refers to these devices as "skill games", and their partners at gas stations and other small businesses unequipped to handle these operations, needs to be held accountable for what in this case was clearly a killing machine."

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