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Ex-Bayside attorney’s casino suit thrown out

A former Corona and Bayside attorney who sued several Atlantic City casinos after a gambling addiction cost her her practice has run out of options.

New Jersey Federal Court Judge Renee Bumb threw out Arelia Taveras' case Sept. 19, almost exactly a year after she filed the suit.

Taveras, 37, who had an office on Bell Boulevard, was seeking $20 million from the casinos where she racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling debt, alleging the casinos did nothing to stop her from gambling and continued to send her incentive packages.

"Plaintiff does not point to any authority in support of this strained understanding of casinos' common-law duties," Bumb wrote in her opinion. "In fact, the great weight of authority supports defendants' position that common-law tort principles do not require casinos to rescue compulsive gamblers from themselves."

Taveras started gambling in 2000 and became addicted in 2004, according to court papers. At the peak of her addiction, she was gambling five days a week and losing an average of $5,000 an hour, court papers show. She spent nine months in rehabilitation at a facility in Minnesota, the papers said.

Taveras, who now lives in Bloomington, Minn., represented herself, though she has been disbarred.

Taveras' law practice was ended by the state Court of Appeals in June 2007 after several clients accused her of stealing nearly $100,000 from them. Five months later, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown filed grand larceny, forgery and fraud charges against her.

According to the criminal complaint filed by the DA's office, Taveras accepted a $25,000 deposit and down payment for a co-op she was selling in Bayside. But when the buyer's application was denied by the co-op board, Taveras allegedly refused to give the buyer the money back.

If convicted, she faces up to seven years in prison, the DA said. Her next court date is Monday.

Before being disbarred, she was a prominent attorney in Jackson Heights and Corona, serving as counsel for state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) and writing "The Gangsta Girl's Guide to Child Support," a book for single mothers on family court.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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