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San Diego

Bar owner Joseph Matranga pleaded guilty Tuesday to contempt of court involving an attempt to defraud the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas of gambling debts.

Matranga, 63, had been scheduled for trial Tuesday before U.S. District Judge William Enright on charges of mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to obstruct justice and commit perjury.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Charles Gorder said the maximum time Matranga could receive for the contempt charge is one year and one day in jail, which will run concurrently with the sentence imposed on March 20 for a separate conviction on extortion and loan sharking.

Matranga, owner of the Showboat Bar, was convicted last month of 10 counts of extortion involving an admitted con man, Harry Hall, 66, who owed Matranga hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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Matranga is free on $200,000 bail on condition he not contact Hall.

Also pleading guilty to contempt of court Tuesday in the same case was Dr. Goetz Wentzel, 56, a Clairemont gynecologist. Both will be sentenced June 24.


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