Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem
Letter to Attorney General Bill Lockyer Regarding a Gambling License for Moskowitz
Hon. Bill Lockyer
Re: Gambling License for Dr. Irving Moskowitz
Dear Mr. Lockyer:
It is my understanding that you are presently considering granting a permanent gambling license to Dr. Irving Moskowitz for a card club/casino operation in Hawaiian Gardens. I am writing to ask that this license not be granted.
As I am sure you know, Dr. Moskowitz has run a non-profit bingo operation for many years. I have reviewed documentation regarding the non-profit status of Dr. Moskowitz’ bingo operation and it appears that he has repeatedly used proceeds from the non-profit bingo parlor for private, for-profit businesses, including one in which he has a financial interest. There are also serious questions about the "volunteer" status of the people who staff the bingo operation. In addition, the funds raised by the bingo parlor appear to be diverted to a series of other non-profit organizations with boards consisting of a majority of interested persons, with a large portion of the funds going outside of the United States, to fund foreign political purposes and land purchases in Israel. It is reasonable to anticipate that the earnings from the card club/casino operation will be similarly diverted.
There are also substantial questions about the relationship between Dr. Moskowitz and redevelopment agency of Hawaiian Gardens (which is also the City Council) in the provision of public funds to build the casino. Specifically, it is my understanding that funds were given to Dr. Moskowitz in violation of California Health and Safety Code section 33426.5(c). That section forbids the direct use of public redevelopment funds for gambling operations agreed to after April 1996. It is my understanding that Dr. Moskowitz and the redevelopment agency did not agree that the development would be a casino until May 1997.
The former City Attorney for Hawaiian Gardens advised the City Council/Redevelopment Agency that their funding of the casino may well be an illegal use of public funds. After giving that advice, she felt compelled to leave her position. It is my understanding that she believes that the members of the City Council/Redevelopment Agency are afraid to deny Dr. Moskowitz whatever he requests because of his success in recalling defeating their predecessors. Assertions have been made that the intimidation of public officials and the voting public is a fact of life in Hawaiian Gardens.
It is my further understanding that the City of Hawaiian Gardens is severely strapped for cash after having invested significant sums in the Moskowitz casino operation, and that Dr. Moskowitz loans money to the city for its daily operations from his non-profit bingo operation, with the city promising to pay him back from future casino taxes. It also appears that money is being donated to the city by Dr. Moskowitz when he needs a permit or variance.
Rather than approving his casino license, it would be more appropriate to initiate an investigation into the local governmental operations in Hawaiian Gardens and the relationship between the city and Dr. Moskowitz. It may well be appropriate for a receiver to be appointed to run the city and get its finances back in order.
At the very least, Dr. Moskowitz’ practices are questionable. At most, they may be illegal. In any event, it would not serve the your reputation as Attorney General to grant the casino license without a thorough investigation by qualified neutral persons.
Thank you for your anticipated courtesy in investigating these issues. Your recommendation that the casino license not be granted to Dr. Moskowitz would be very much appreciated.
Very truly yours,
The Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem