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For week ended February 13, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

Kingstons Accused Of Mafia Ties
Denver CO Rocky Mountain News 13Feb00 D5
By Lou Kilzer: Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

DENVER, COLORADO -- A Denver Rocky Mountain News article this past Sunday details the position of the Kingston Clan's businesses in Colorado and implies those businesses may have connections to organized crime. The Utah-based polygamy group, known as the Latter Day Church of Christ, is tightly controlled by seven brothers, sons of the first wife of John Ortell Kingston and by the descendants of John Ortell's brother Ardous, who have gained control of the group's ventures in the amusement machine market.

The Kingston group got a lot of unwanted publicity last year when John Daniel Kingston was arrested for whipping his 16-year-old daughter, after she fled a marriage to her uncle, But the trial didn't bring out much new information about the group and the businesses it runs. Now, the Rocky Mountain News gives a profile of the group in Colorado, and its two Colorado businesses, Mountain Coin and A&E Amusements.

The group first entered Colorado in the 1970s, seeking a toehold in the nascent market for 'amusement' machines - the coin operated video games and tabletop games often found in bars, bowling alleys and in dedicated arcades. After the major player in the Denver market suffered from a political scandal, the Kingston businesses grew rapidly, and now face just one serious competitor, who claims to share the market with the Kingston's about equally.

The businesses involved in this industry are sometimes owned by organized crime because they are cash rich businesses -- businesses that process a lot of cash in their operations. A former employee of the group's Utah amusement machine operations, Merlin Symes, even claims that the group has direct ties to organized crime. Symes says that Elden Kingston, who runs Mountain Coin, told him that reputed New Jersey mobster Carmen Ricci had offered to let the Kingston's invest in an oil shale business. And the Rocky Mountain News confirmed that Mountain Coin's subsidiaries in Denver, Albuquerque, Des Moines, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake and Pocatello, Idaho had all purchased coin-operated video machines from Grayhound Electronics, a slot machine and video machine manufacturer run by Ricci.

A 1995 undercover operation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation also determined that A&E Amusements, a route operator owned by the Kingston's, was involved with providing illegal slot machines to its customers. Under the law, 'video poker' machines are to be for amusement only, and shouldn't be able to 'accumulate credits' over multiple plays. However, undercover CBI officers were able to arrange for such a machine from A&E, one equipped with a remote-control switch that could disable the machine's illegal features should authorities investigate.

Elden Kingston of Mountain Coin denies all these allegations, saying, that Mountain Coin does "not handle gambling devices or machines that are illegal in any state that we distribute in." He added, "I, myself and/or Mountain Coin is not now, or never has been, associated, involved or has any connection with organized crime, any crime family or any other illegal activity."

Kingston also denied any connection to organized crime. He says he doesn't know who Carmen Ricci is, and doesn't know anything about the ownership of SMS Manufacturing, Mountain Coin's main supplier of video games a decade ago. "We have never purchased any illegal gaming machines from them. I am not aware now, (nor) was I aware at that time if there may have been any connection with SMS and any crime family."

The Rocky Mountain News article also gives further information on the Kingston group's history and current leadership, including Paul Kingston, who is the group's current leader. It also tells about the group's frugal lifestyle and business empire, estimated at $150 million at least, but said by some to be as much as 10 times that figure. The article even quotes one source claiming that the Kingston's businesses are worth $11 billion.


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