- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2002

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) The City Council agreed to pay $10,000 in city money to help sponsor a billiards tournament organized by a man who was convicted of operating a casinolike gambling operation out of his home.
Mayor William E. Ward said he was aware of Barry Behrman's conviction. But he said the money was given because of the economic effect of one of the country's biggest billiards events, the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship.
The event draws 256 of the best pool players from around the world and is expected to attract thousands of fans to the Chesapeake Conference Center this week.
"We are certainly trying to promote the city as a center for conferences and conventions, and certainly this gives us an opportunity to reach a broad audience," said Mr. Ward, who asked that Behrman's request for the money be placed on the agenda at Tuesday's council meeting.
Behrman, a longtime pool promoter, was arrested in December and accused of running casinolike parties in his $625,000 Chesapeake home. In May, he pleaded guilty to two felony counts of conducting an illegal gambling operation, two misdemeanor counts of illegally selling alcohol and two misdemeanor counts of failing to file a certificate for a business license.
Felony possession of cocaine and misdemeanor possession of marijuana were among eight other charges that were dropped. Behrman received a suspended sentence of six years and four months, was put on supervised probation for five years and ordered to pay $1,000.
Chesapeake's contribution to the tournament will help pay production costs for a three-hour, pay-per-view TV broadcast with a potential market of 30 million homes and 10,000 business establishments, Behrman said. Customers in the United States and Canada will pay $9.95 to view the finals Sunday, he said.
"This money does not go in my pocket. They're not paying me," Behrman said Wednesday. "It takes a lot of money to produce live TV."
The council voted 7-1 in favor of giving the money with the condition that the city get maximum media exposure during the broadcast.
The event hasn't always been successful. Last year's tournament failed because it coincided with September 11 and many fans couldn't fly.


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