SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a public nuisance lawsuit Monday, seeking to shutter a building in the Outer Mission District that has housed the notorious ‘Silver Shack’ gambling den.
Herrera said the operation “will no longer be tolerated.”
“This gambling den is like a weed,” Herrera said. “It has been cut down before. Now we’re pulling out the roots to ensure it doesn’t come back…Our approach is straightforward: we’re focusing on the building they own and their wallets.”
The complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court names property owner Eduardo C. Bato, and managers and operators Angelica C. Bato, Malcolm Vasquez, Kenneth Gurriere and Orlando Leonor as defendants.
It alleges they engaged in unlawful business practices by violating gambling laws, performing construction without the proper permits and violating building and planning codes.
“The Silver Shack has been a blight on the community for far too long,” Herrera said. “It will no longer be tolerated.”
Operating since at least January 2014 out of 4182 Mission Street under different names, including registering as a thrift store named Jhec of all Trades and later Leisure Time, Herrera claims, the business has been a magnet for criminal and nuisance activity, endangering the surrounding community.
Dozens of arrests for drug use, methamphetamine sales, stolen vehicles, theft, and patrons wanted on outstanding warrants have occurred at the Silver Shack since it opened up.
Herrera also said the owners have disguised the operation for years. The window on the main entry door was covered with a reflective mirror material, but patrons wishing to gamble using the computerized machines needed only to knock on the front door for entry.
A security guard generally manned the door.
Herrera claims in his lawsuit that once inside, patrons could find machines to play multiple games of chance including “spinning reel” slot machine games, poker, blackjack, and other card games, and lotto or keno-type “pick and win” games.
Patrons who inserted cash into the machines obtained “points” or “credits” to play.
On Nov. 29, 2016, the San Francisco Police Department executed a search warrant and seized nine gambling devices and arrested several occupants, including Vasquez. Only a couple of months later they allegedly reopened as a new illegal gambling establishment, adding new devices in the form of computer terminals connected via a network.
On Oct. 17, 2017, the police executed another search warrant, seizing three stand-up arcade-style slot machines and 15 computer terminal gaming machines, arresting several occupants, including Vasquez and Gurriere.
Herrera is asking the court to order the closure of the Silver Shack for one year or damages equal to the fair market value of the building for one year.