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Pasco bingo player charged with theft of hall's cash

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 73-year-old woman who said she needed money because her daughter is being evicted is accused of lifting more than $600 from a bingo hall this weekend.

Ann Marie Pinto, of 7820 Heather St., faces a grand theft charge. She was released from the Pasco County jail in Land O'Lakes on Sunday after posting 10 percent of her $5,000 bail.

According to a New Port Richey police report, Pinto went to the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 78 building on Jefferson Street for Saturday night bingo. She asked the man working in the office for a cushion to sit on, and as he assisted her, he turned his back on a stack of cash and open cash box. A few minutes later, he noticed the stack was missing.

Alan Bedor, the chapter commander, said he immediately suspected Pinto.

"She's been there numerous times playing bingo," he said.

Having no evidence, he searched all over, including the restrooms, where he found a trash bag with instant bingo tickets and Marlboro Lights cigarette butts with traces of pink lipstick.

Then he walked through the bingo hall and saw only one person smoking those cigarettes and wearing pink lipstick: Pinto.

Bedor said he'd never seen Pinto buy instant bingo tickets. But on Saturday night she bought $26 worth.

He called the police, who confronted her. According to the report, she first said she didn't know anything about the money. But she let police search her purse, where they found $677 — the total from the stack and the cash box.

Pinto has no prior arrests in Florida. She told police her daughter who lives up north was being evicted. She said she took the money to send it to her.

Bedor said he told Pinto something else: "You are a thief. You are going to jail."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Pasco bingo player charged with theft of hall's cash 07/21/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 28, 2008 8:00pm]

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