Troubled Waters: Flint Police Chief’s Illegal Gambling Sentence Coming in April

On April 14, former Flint Police Chief William Bradford Barksdale will be sentenced for allegedly operating an illegal gambling establishment. The Michigan city with a population of 80,000 is no stranger to such troubled waters – officials lifted a “boil water advisory” on Feb. 13 in the city that’s still recovering from the decade-old “Flint water crisis” of lead poisoning.

As for the city’s experience with its former top law enforcement official, Barksdale pleaded “no contest” to illegal gambling charges on Feb. 8. According to the Michigan Department of Attorney General (MDAG) and the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), the “no contest” plea – accepting convictions without admitting guilt – relates to:

  • One count of gambling violations, a five-year felony, and
  • One count of reckless use of a firearm, a 90-day misdemeanor.

Barksdale’s arrest, along with that of his co-defendants, Alvin Crossnoe and Adam Crossnoe, is another illustration of Michigan officials’ commitment to ridding the state of illegal gambling operations. The three operated the West Point Arcade located in Flint. The Crossnoes pleaded guilty in 2021.

On Jan. 26, the MGCB announced the sentencing of a poker pro who ran an allegedly illegal poker room in the Upper Peninsula. In September 2022, the MGCB fought a bill to expand “skill game” use statewide. On Feb. 8, MGCB Communications Specialist Mary Kay Bean told MichiganSharp that that bill was dead.

MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said on Feb. 8:

The Michigan Gaming Control Board believes it’s important to eliminate illegal gaming operations because they don’t offer the protections legal, regulated gambling provides Michigan citizens. Illegal gaming operations do not belong in our neighborhoods, where they bring unwanted crime and prey on senior citizens and other vulnerable people. We are pleased with the outcome of this investigation.

Barksdale’s Role in Alleged Illegal Gambling

When Barksdale and the Crossnoes were first charged in October 2018, Barksdale had been retired from policework for 14 years, according to ABC 12.

Now 70, Barksdale is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14, 2023, in Genesee County Circuit Court.

He’s answering for charges resulting from a 2017 visit from MGCB regulation officers to the West Point Arcade Barksdale was operating with the Crossnoes.

The MDAG announcement said:

The officers were able to play casino-style games on computer stations in the arcade. At the conclusion of the games, the officers were paid in generic gift cards. These activities fit the definition of gambling, which requires a license. After their investigation, the MGCB regulation officers forwarded the matter to the Department of Attorney General for charges.

Flint’s Legacy

Flint’s current police chief, Terence Green, swore to protect and serve the community in September 2020.

His photo and bio are below the department’s mission statement, which partly reads:

We will seek just solutions with honesty and integrity.

Green is protecting a smaller city than the Flint that experienced the water crisis and witnessed Barksdale’s arrest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s a Flint Lead Exposure Registry.

The CDC says:

During April 25, 2014–October 15, 2015, approximately 99,000 residents of the City of Flint, MI, were exposed to lead when the drinking water source was switched from the Detroit Water Authority to the Flint Water System (FWS). On December 14, 2015, lead contamination in the FWS was declared a state of emergency and, by January 2016, CDC – led by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – assisted the City of Flint and the State of Michigan to develop a response and recovery plan.

Perhaps Barksdale’s sentencing will be another step in Flint’s healing process.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is a writer for Michigan Sharp with a focus on online casino content. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Heather's work in Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report, which lead her to MI Sharp.