One less wharf shyster

Stay away from our tourists, scammer!

The crafty crook who tricked visitors into gambling on a rigged game at Fisherman’s Wharf was sentenced Monday to three years probation and ordered to stay away from Piers 1 through 45 and Jefferson Street.

Larry Michael Barnes, 56, of Oakland, must also pay restitution to his victims, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

The Oakland shyster was convicted of luring unwitting visitors and residents into losing their cash on a shell game at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Barnes had participants place bets on which of three bottle caps contained a ball after he shuffled them. Barnes used a sleight-of-hand trick to fool bettors into believing the ball was under a certain bottle cap, Assistant District Attorney Seth Steward said.

He could make a participant lose whenever he wanted, Steward said.

He had two buddies chip in on the scam. They would either act as lookout for the presence of cops, or they would play the game and win, convincing passersby that they could win as well, Steward said.

“You think your chances are pretty good,” he said. “Even if you guess right, you’re going to lose money.”
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Cops arrested the scammers Dec. 26 at Fisherman’s Wharf. They found the crooks with more than $1,200 cash, prosecutors said.

It took the jury only 15 minutes to find Barnes guilty of one count of unlawful gambling and three counts of obtaining money by fraud or trick, prosecutors said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Follow The San Francisco Examiner’s crime blog, Law & Disorder, on Twitter @sflawdisorder. 

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