HARRISBURG - Louis DeNaples, owner of the Mount Airy Casino Resort, in July challenged a Dauphin County grand jury's power to investigate him.
When that effort stalled in a Harrisburg court, DeNaples took his fight to the Supreme Court on Oct. 1. His attorney, Richard Sprague, claimed in a sealed brief that the Dauphin County district attorney was trying to "viciously smear" DeNaples. And Sprague complained repeatedly about details of the investigation turning up in newspaper stories.
The Supreme Court, which temporarily halted the grand jury for two months, on Monday rejected Sprague's requests to end the investigation, appoint an investigator to examine leaks to the media and quash subpoenas for grand jury testimony from DeNaples and state Gaming Control Board executive director Anne Neeb.
And the court unsealed more than 200 pages of documents - about as thick as a Philadelphia phone book - making public many grand jury details.
According to the court file:
The grand jury is examining whether DeNaples lied about his relationship with organized crime members when applying for a state casino license last year.
Someone at the Gaming Control Board forwarded information about DeNaples to the Pennsylvania State Police, which then shared it with the Dauphin County district attorney's office.
The district attorney's office, after consulting with investigators and reviewing "hundreds of pages of reports and other documents," decided a grand jury investigation was necessary.
Sprague contended that the case is part of a long-running turf battle between the State Police and the Gaming Control Board over which agency should do background checks on casino applicants. Francis Chardo, the first assistant district attorney running the investigation, had testified in a General Assembly hearing in favor of the State Police.
Chardo subpoenaed the Gaming Control Board, seeking transcripts and notes from private hearings it held where DeNaples testified about his background. He also subpoenaed a copy of the DeNaples background check completed by board investigators.
Sprague asked a Dauphin County judge overseeing the grand jury to hold a "sealed evidentiary hearing" so that reporters from the Daily News, the Associated Press and the Allentown Morning Call could be questioned about their stories.
When the judge didn't act on that request, Sprague asked the Supreme Court to appoint an investigator to examine possible leaks of grand jury information.
Sprague challenged the power of a district attorney to examine casino issues and asked for the DeNaples case to be transferred to the state attorney general.
The court asked the attorney general for his opinion.
Attorney General Tom Corbett's staff told the court that the Dauphin County district attorney shared jurisdiction with his office on the case. And Corbett's staff discounted a claim by Sprague that the District Attorney was trying to "usurp" the power of the Gaming Control Board, writing, "This argument boarders on the frivolous."