Illegal Slots Lead to Death of Clerk in Pennsylvania

Video slot machines that operated illegally at a convenience store in Pennsylvania are at the center of a new wrongful death lawsuit filed Wednesday. The lawsuit was filed by Saltz Mongeluzzi and Bendesky, on behalf of the family of a man who was fatally shot while at work by an individual that robbed the location’s illegal video slot machines.

Store Clerk Shot Fatally

The incident dates back to December 12, 2020. Ashokkumar Patel, 50, was an attendant at a Sunoco-affiliated retailer for only a week. The man was mopping the floor at work while around 9:30 PM, a gunman entered the store and shot him fatally. The shooter was identified by the police as a well-known drug dealer who also gambled at the location’s illegal video slot machines. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Patel’s widow, his two daughters and his son, alleges that the defendants prioritized their profits over the safety and security of their employee, who was fatally shot.

A statement released by Saltz Mongeluzzi and Bendesky, alleges that defendants “Georgia-based Pace-O-Matic (POM), Sunoco and their affiliated companies, along with Miele Manufacturing, of Williamsport, are well-known throughout Pennsylvania and permitted an unsafe “mini casino” to operate without the security measures in place that communities expect from legal gaming operations.”

Defendants Prioritized Profits over the Safety of Employees

Robert W. Zimmerman, a member of Saltz Mongeluzzi and Bendesky’s legal team, revealed that the criminal who shot and killed Patel escaped with thousands of dollars from the illegal machines. He outlined that Patel’s family wants to hold accountable the defendants that ignored “basic safety and security protocols” and threatened his life.

Workers like Mr. Patel were considered “essential” during this time in the pandemic. But the only thing that was essential to the defendants was to place as many illicit profit centers – these illegal gaming devices – throughout the state as they could, without any regard to their inherent dangers.

Robert W. Zimmerman, member of Saltz Mongeluzzi and Bendesky

Larry Bendesky, a part of Saltz Mongeluzzi and Bendesky, revealed that the recent lawsuit is likely the first such claim in Pennsylvania. He said that the “illegal gambling devices” have long attracted criminals who are looking to score easy money. Bendesky pointed out that the locations that offer those machines typically are small businesses that expose the life and well-being of the workers to risk. He explained that in this specific case, the security cameras were used just as evidence for the investigation of the crime and did not serve as a deterrent.

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