Coakley names N.J. State Police veteran to Mass. gaming board

By Neal J. Riley, The Lowell Sun

BOSTON — Attorney General Martha Coakley made her appointment to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission yesterday, selecting a retired New Jersey State Police lieutenant with a history of leading investigations into casino gambling.

Lt. Col. Gayle Cameron, a 28-year state police veteran who supervised an average of 1,500 investigations and 800 arrests per year involving casinos, said at a press conference that the job is a good fit for her.

“I look forward to starting with a clean slate to foster a gaming environment which is secure and robust,” she said.

Coakley’s appointment to the five-member commission, which will determine the location of up to three resort casinos and one slot parlor, was required by law to have a background in criminal investigations and law enforcement.

“Lt. Cameron has the right experience, the integrity and the vision to bring to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission,” Coakley said, noting that Cameron was one of 10 candidates interviewed, whose names are not being released. “We believe her experience will be critical as we establish this new industry in Massachusetts.”

Asked about the lessons learned from investigating New Jersey casinos, Cameron said avoiding “turf wars” between the commission, state police and the attorney general’s office was key and that the threat of corruption was serious.

“There are individuals who will make attempts to do things that may not be legal,” said Cameron, who retired in 2008. “I’m not naïve, I don’t anticipate everything running smoothly.”

Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby, appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick in December, called Coakley’s choice a “home run.”

“She has exactly what we’re looking for, which is no-nonsense, law-enforcement experience,” he said in a phone interview. “She’s in a state that outside of Nevada has the biggest history of casino gambling.”

Crosby said he is not concerned that Cameron has little experience with casinos in suburban areas, which may become a reality in Massachusetts.

“She’s not supposed to know everything there is to know,” he said.

Cameron, 55, grew up in Weymouth, graduated from Bridgewater State University with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education, and owns a home in Plymouth. She receives a $90,000 pension from the state of New Jersey, Coakley spokesman Christopher Loh said.

The commission members’ salary of $112,500, which will be funded by the gaming industry and not taxpayers, was called a deterrent for some potential applicants by Treasurer Steve Grossman in a Boston Globe article published Monday.

Jon Carlisle, a spokesman for Grossman, said the treasurer is in the process of interviewing three finalists. The salary, which some say is relatively low for such a high-scrutiny position, resulted in fewer applications.

“The fact that there might have been a smaller pool of applicants does not diminish the fact that the candidate with the appropriate integrity, wisdom and managerial experience will be chosen,” Carlisle said.

Coakley said the job’s full-time status was also a factor in limiting the number of applications.

“I think there were a lot of reasons why people did not apply,” Coakley said. “I feel ultimately that the salary itself was not a issue in the pool that we had, all of whom were great candidates, and was not an issue in finding the candidate that we think will serve Massachusetts very well.”

The five commission seats must be filled by March 21. Grossman, Coakley and Patrick will jointly choose two of the members.

Crosby said the slow pace of the appointments will make it difficult for the commission to meet some of its early deadlines, such as a report on charitable gambling due April 1.

“I think we’ll be able to work around those dates,” he said. “The key thing is to get those people right.”

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