For several years, a well known carnival owner, Danny Huston, has been bringing his gang of racketeers to Dearborn and ripping off children/teens with illegal games at the International Arab Festival. Several of his itinerant midway game operators and agents violate Michigan law and Dearborn Ordinances by perpetrating illegal gambling and fraud. The carnival company he co-owns, North American Midway Entertainment (NAME), is brought into Dearborn by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce each year to “entertain” Warren Avenue fair-goers.
I am a retired Dearborn police officer; formally trained in carnival midway game enforcement tactics according to Michigan law and Michigan Attorney General’s opinions about such games.Just prior to the 2012 Arab Fest, I was contacted by a NBC Universal “Today” show producer and was asked to advise her about no-win type carnival games. She had heard about my second book: “Carnival Games: $10,000,000,000 Hoodwink Racket – Organized Crime on American Midways” and wanted to know about rip-off midway games in the U.S.
The “Today” show also assigned me the task to monitoring and surveying the midway games at four Metropolitan Detroit carnival sites, to include providing pictures and video of any suspect games on traveling carnival lots.
The “Today” show also went undercover to a NAME midway in Indianapolis and decided to concentrate on the commonly seen basketball game and three other games.
We had found through surveillance that the four game watched contained elements of illegal gambling and fraud and were nearly impossible to win do to gaffs and trickery. Cheating or trickery for money is fraud.
Two of my assignments were to survey and report on the games at the 2012 Dearborn Heights Spirit festival and the Dearborn’s annual International Arab Festival.
I had watched and counted as customers paid $2 for one shot or 3 shots for $5 at the “One in Wins,” “Long Range Basketball” games at both festivals.
The “Today” show went undercover to Indianapolis to survey a traveling North American Midway Entertainment (NAME) carnival and discovered that all four games they concentrated on were next to impossible to win and contained elements of fraud.
During my survey of the basketball concession at the Spirit festival, I was surprised to find that out of 115 attempts, there was not even one winner at that that NAME carnival.
The next week NAME was in Dearborn at the Arab Fest, sponsored by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce.
At this Warren Avenue street fair, neighborhood kids were lined up to try to win a prize (beach ball, basketball, or large plush, etc). I counted 166 customer attempts (mostly children and teens) to discover that all 166 lost (failed to score) and did not win any prizes (in only 15-20 minutes of surveillance time).
(I then measured the hoops at all three concessions containing four hoops each) to find that they were all oval or elliptical (football or egg shaped) and presented an optical illusion to victims. These hoops measured just 10-1/2 inches front to back and 17 inches side to side (regulation hoops are 18 inches in diameter and obviously round). The balls were normal size (9-1/2 inches) but over-inflated.
Deceived victims would shoot the over-inflated balls which usually struck metal rims and bounced like super-balls. Victims had been prevented from seeing the configuration and size of the rigged hoops because of side curtains of plush. Thus, the hoop games were considered fraud and gambling (operating illegal games of chance).
At a rate of 166 victim attempts in 20 minutes at each of three 4-hoop concession locations, there would be a projected rate of 498 attempts per hour for each of the concession locations or 1494 attempts (3 X 498) over the entire midway each peak hour. Figuring $2 a shot, there would be approximately $2,984 wagered by victims in only one busy hour. In 10 hours of prime time business, total projected loot would be approximately $29,840 from just the Arab Fest basketball concessions alone.
Because of great weather, this year’s Arab Fest midway was in continuous operation for three days. Combined with all the other games, total take at this year’s Arab Fest midway games could easily amount to $100,000, not counting sales from rides and midway food concessions.
In 2011, I (and two other witnesses) voiced a complaint about the Arab Fest illegal games to Fay Beydoun and Ahmad Chebbani, festival organizers and sponsors from the American Arab Chamber of Commerce. They have contracted Danny Huston and his carnivals for several years. Beydoun and Chebbani had ignored our complaint.
As a police trained specialist in carnival game enforcement, I had submitted a written complaint to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department in 2011 and 2012 about the same basketball scams. The WCSD (and not Dearborn police) is contracted to provide policing at the fair. County deputies have refused to take any enforcement action in 2011 and 2012 and have also refused to document the complaints in county files. Sheriff Benny Napoleon’s office is very much aware of this lawlessness.
Still, deputies, for some reason, continued to allow illegal games to rip off unprotected young victims while providing foot patrols past the big dollar basketball concession scams.
Cash from all the 2012 Arab Fest carnival games (both rigged and non-rigged) could have reached an estimated $100,000. NAME rides and food concessions could have taken in another $100,000, and likely much more.
It is unknown if the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department is somehow profiting from the NAME carnival, or if the WCSD is being paid by the Chamber with carnival money.
If walking patrols from the WCSD will not police the carnival, who will?
Perhaps someone at the Michigan Attorney General’s Office needs to investigate the paper (mostly cash) trails and take appropriate enforcement action against culpable parties for allowing children/teens to be ripped off and abused by serial thieves from North American Midway Entertainment on an annual basis.