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Sparks v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

June 26, 2015

James Lee Sparks, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

Appeal from the Kosciusko Superior Court. The Honorable Duane G. Huffer, Judge. Trial Court Case No. 43D01-1102-FC-80.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: Joseph A. Sobek, Reed Earhart Lennox & Barrett, Warsaw, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana; Christina D. Pace, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Mathias, Judge. May, J., and Robb, J., concur.

OPINION

Mathias, Judge.

[¶1] James Lee Sparks (" Sparks" ) was convicted in Kosciusko Superior Court of Class D felony contracting. Sparks appeals and argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction.

[¶2] We reverse.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶3] In 2009, the Warsaw Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1126 in Warsaw, Indiana (" the VFW" ) was struggling financially. In the summer of 2009, Sparks approached Quartermaster Larry Criswell (" Criswell" ) with the idea of starting a gambling operation to assist the VFW with fundraising. After Sparks learned that the VFW did not have a gaming license, he explained how the VFW could obtain a gaming license and host poker nights to raise funds for its organization. Sparks told Criswell that he was a dealer in Fort Wayne and had encountered a significant number of people from the Warsaw area who travelled to Fort Wayne for gaming.

[¶4] Licensing regulations required dealers to be members of the VFW. Sparks was eligible to become a member

Page 537

because his father was a veteran of the Air Force. Sparks became a member in July of 2009.

[¶5] The VFW members voted to allow Sparks to conduct poker games for one year. Therefore, in October 2009, the VFW filed an " Application for Annual Charity Game Night" with the Indiana Gaming Commission. Sparks was listed as the " principal operator who has overall responsibility for the operation and control of this charity gaming event." Ex. Vol., State's Ex. 4. Deb Messer (" Messer" ), who was responsible for filing the application, falsely listed Sparks as a two-year member of the VFW. Messer did so because an " operator" was required to be a member of the VFW for at least one year.

[¶6] The VFW began to hold poker nights four nights per week. Initially, only VFW members were dealers at the poker nights. However, Sparks later recruited non-member dealers because they were more skilled at dealing. Pursuant to licensing regulations, dealers could not be paid. Therefore, Sparks told Messer to list his non-member dealers as cleaners so they could be paid. Sparks also instructed Messer to list him as security, so he could be paid. ...


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