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Card Game Busted By Blind Side Approach

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, July 27, 2010, at 12:33PM
hustle Ed Fuentes

A shell game takes place on Broadway in 2006.

Hustles like shell games and three-card monte are fixtures on the sidewalks of Downtown, particularly along Broadway and in the Toy and Fashion districts. While the games are often easy to spot, good lookouts can make it hard for police to make an arrest.

Detectives Bryce Spafford and Mark Campbell yesterday morning arrested Leobardo Valencia, 67, who was dealing a three-card monte game in front of 533 S. Los Angeles. They were surprised he didn't see them coming, but it turns out they may have just happened on the right side.

"Usually these games have lookouts, but for whatever reason, they did not notice us walking up in our suits," Detective Spafford explained. "After we arrested Valencia we realized he had a glass eye. I guess we walked up on his blind side."

The two had spotted the game taking place while driving down the block.

According to police, Valencia has nearly 30 arrests and eight convictions for "theft by trick or device," the legal description of a three-card monte game.

While the hustles may seem like they only harm those foolish enough to waste their money on a fixed game, police say that they act as catalysts for more serious robberies and grand theft.

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