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Encore Boston Harbor brawls prompt state investigations

Boston Herald

Marie Szaniszlo and Andrew Martinez

August 13, 2019

A series of early morning brawls at the Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett is now being investigated by the state Gaming Commission and the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

Two people were arrested on a variety of assault charges, a third person will be summonsed, and a fourth was so intoxicated that police took him into protective custody when he kept bellowing at the brawlers as they were escorted off the grounds, state police said.

Rosie Salisbury, an Encore spokeswoman, said the casino’s security team and police were able to “quickly respond to and control the situation with no impact or disruption to other guests or operations.”

Gaming Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said, “As a matter of standard procedure, the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau, in close coordination with the State Police Gaming Enforcement Unit, will conduct a review of the facts and circumstances to assess Encore’s regulatory compliance with the required internal controls, policies and procedures.”

ABCC director Ralph Sacramone said, “We will look into it. If we do find there was a violation, we would file one with the Gaming Commission.” That could mean a warning, a fine or suspension of revocation of liquor licenses.

Critics predicted unruliness and other problems when the Gaming Commission granted Encore a license to serve alcohol until 4 a.m., past the 2 a.m. cut-off that applies to other establishments under Massachusetts law.

Celeste Ribeiro Hewitt, a casino gambling opponent, said, “That’s the business model for casinos: Keep plying people with alcohol so they keep spending. Along with all of the other promises they made, they promised to avoid or contain this kind of thing. As long as there is no robust plan to monitor, investigate or dole out any repercussions, we can just expect more of these incidents.”

State police were not immediately able to provide the number of arrests at the casino since it opened June 23. The surrounding Boston, Everett and Somerville police departments Monday said the Herald would have to submit a formal public records request for information on casino-related arrests, including any drunken-driving arrests where the operator reported last drinking at the casino. Public records requests include a wait of up to 10 days and allow record holders to deny requests in some cases.

Just after 2 a.m. Monday, state police said, troopers and officers assigned to the joint gaming enforcement unit were assisting with crowd control as a large group of patrons left Memoire, a nightclub at the casino, at closing time. After 2 a.m., alcohol is only served to patrons on the gaming floor.

A brawl erupted, forcing troopers and officers to call for backup, police said. State police in Medford and Revere, state police dog unit and Everett police arrived and charged Shani Mohamed Abo, 29, of Everett with assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

At about 2:15 a.m., a second fight broke out among a large group in the hotel’s main lobby. Police said a Lynn man argued with two women, pushed one of them, then grabbed her cellphone and threw it across the lobby. One woman told police he had touched her inappropriately. Herby Charmant, 25, of Lynn was charged with indecent assault and battery, assault and battery, lewd and lascivious behavior and disorderly conduct.

A few minutes later, a third fight broke out on the gaming floor. Troopers dispersed a group of people. A 26-year-old Lynn man will be summonsed to court on an assault and battery charge. Then, at about 3 a.m., police took a “highly intoxicated” 32-year-old Lynn man into protective custody because he kept yelling at people who were being escorted off the property.

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