VALPARAISO — The gambling trial involving the now-shuttered Broadway Cafe was postponed for a day Wednesday after the defense objected to a last-minute witness proposed by prosecutors aimed at countering claims that the accused has been wrongly charged.
Prosecutors had intended to kick off the evidence portion of the trial Wednesday with testimony from Darron Farha, vice president and general counsel at Valparaiso University.
Farha was to counter claims raised by the defense during opening arguments Tuesday afternoon that George Borovilos was wrongly charged with a felony count of promoting professional gambling because at no time did he own, manage or have control over the Broadway Cafe where the illegal activities reportedly took place, said Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Salina Malone.
But defense attorney Larry Rogers objected, saying he was not notified about the new witness until after the trial ended for the day Tuesday.
He said he needed time to prepare a response.
Malone said she filed notice of the new witness at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Senior Judge Thomas Webber, who is sitting in for Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford, recessed the trial and sent the jurors home until Thursday morning to give Rogers time to come up with a response.
While 67-year-old Borovilos is identified as the owner of the business in the charging documents, Rogers said Tuesday the restaurant that had operated until just last week along a local stretch of U.S. 30 was owned by a corporation that was entirely controlled by his wife.
The felony count of promoting professional gambling Borovilos faces requires that he had control over the location where the gambling allegedly took place and that he knowingly allowed the illegal activity to go on, Rogers told the newly selected group of jurors.
The case, which resulted in charges against others as well in Porter and LaPorte counties, was triggered on Oct. 25, 2013, when Indiana Gaming Commission Control Officer Carl Diaz noticed what he believed to be gambling going on around him as he was having breakfast at the diner by Sturdy Road, according to court records.
During the two-year investigation, Diaz placed several bets on professional and college football games using parlay cards and saw evidence that Borovilos knew that betting was going on at the restaurant and by some of its staff, Malone said.
Rogers said while the state carried out a costly and timely investigation, which he believed jurors would come to see as a waste, it never investigated Borovilos.
Rogers said Borovilos began hanging around the Valparaiso restaurant as a way to occupy his time and help out as needed after a stroke 15 years ago left him unable to continue working as a courtroom law enforcement officer in Chicago, Rogers said.
The control of the restaurant was solely in the hands of his wife, who did not allow gambling to go on, he said.
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Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.
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