Editor’s note: Below is an updated version of the story that was originally published July 29.
NAUGATUCK — Police broke up what they called an illegal gambling operation Wednesday after an undercover police officer played in poker tournaments a few times at a discreet, vacant storefront on North Main Street.
The sting operation was the culmination of a six-month investigation the Naugatuck Police Department coordinated with the Connecticut State Police Statewide Organized Crime Investigative Task Force.
It wasn’t hard for the undercover officer to get into the poker games — he found a phone number for those interested in playing on the game operator’s Facebook page, according to court documents.
Once he made contact with the operator, Stephen Kloc, 47, of Naugatuck, the officer began receiving text messages from Kloc’s cellphone about days and times of the games.
The officer’s experience as described in court documents does not mention criminal activity other than illegal gambling at what was known as the Main Street Social Club in a storefront of a small strip mall at 423 North Main St. in Naugatuck’s Union City section. However, it describes a scene reminiscent of a speakeasy from the days of prohibition in the 1920s — duel security doors, a buzzer, a peep hole and covered windows.
Kloc said all of that, plus security cameras throughout the storefront and two locked safes, were meant to protect against robbers, according to court documents.
What made the games illegal is that Kloc and his brother and partner in the operation, Andrew Kloc, 44, of Naugatuck, were making money on top of anything they earned from gambling by taking a percentage of each money pot, police said.
“Stephen would not discuss the amount of money he was making at the MSSC and claimed that he played in the games for his money and did not benefit from any of the games otherwise,” court documents state.
Andrew Kloc said he was not willing to speak to police without an attorney present “but stated he was broke and there was no way he was making money” off the club. He also told police he didn’t believe he was involved in anything illegal and “believed this entire event to be a waste of time.”
Stephen Kloc told police the space was intended for his brother’s electronic cigarette shop and that he was going to sell furniture he made by hand in the basement. He said they intended to have the poker tables as a hobby and that they were not in any way involved with an organized crime family or organization.
The Klocs told a reporter they are not yet willing to speak to the press but hope to eventually be able to tell their side of the story.
Court documents say there were three poker tables with 10 chairs at each table and security cameras throughout. There was a small office that contained DVR for the security cameras and two safes that contained money and poker chips, according to police.
Several large TVs and a projector with a laptop computer were used to show different game information, such as current pot and bet tallies, police said.
During the games, the house would “rake” from the betting pot, or take a percentage of money that was to go toward “the house.”
“This money was represented by poker chips that was consistent with the fees paid by participants,” the documents state. “This was not to be confused by the dealers’ tips, which were visibly kept separate from the rake.”
Nearly two dozen people in all were charged last week.
Stephen Kloc and Andrew Kloc were both charged with gambling on a premises as a nuisance, gambling and professional gambling, and transmission of gambling information.
Those who police say were also involved in running the operation are Michael Santos, 33, of Naugatuck, Domenic Mancini, 27, of Watertown, and Sarah Bernier, 35, of Naugatuck, who police said were dealers, and Marisa Mango, 29, of Bristol, who police said was a waitress. They were charged with gambling and professional gambling, and conspiracy at professional gambling.
Sixteen players were also charged with gambling and issued summons to appear in court. Police identified the players as: Scott Walker, 34; Greg S. Callis, 54; Michael Camacho, 29; Mike Q. Santos, 32; Maria Teixeira, 54; Domingos G. Teixeira, 51; Jeffrey A. Mackowski, 47; David Moffa, 56; Richard Jordan, 53; Jorge Teixeira, 53; Liridon Ramadani, 24; Perry DeGeorge, 48; David Andreoli, 53; Antonio Ribeiro, 37; Michael Hatoum, 27; and an unnamed 17-year-old. A police news release did not state what town they live in.
Jonathan Shugarts contributed to this article.