Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Police Raid North Nashville Poker Game

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Poker can be fun, but people playing for cash in Tennessee could be breaking the law.

On Monday night, Metro police broke up what they called a sophisticated gambling operation with a familiar Nashville businessman in the mix.
Channel 4's Sara Dorsey was with police during the raid.

At a house on McGavock Pike, cars crammed the driveway, cameras were mounted on each corner and police said the gambling operation was going on inside.
"This isn't your work group getting together and playing cards once a month. This is somebody organizing a game and making money off of it," said an undercover detective.
Police said the man responsible is Paul Eichel, who had an expired business license under the name Casino Royale School for Gambling.
But the undercover detective said the line between business and criminal poker is cash.
"By chance, I was able to get in and play one night. I bought in at $100," he said.
The amount was enough for a warrant, plus neighbors and Metro Councilman Phil Clayburn have been complaining.
Tracey Baggett, who was one of the 14 or so people inside the home, said money is being exchanged but that it's all in good fun.
"It's just a bunch of guys having a good time; it goes on every day all over the place," he said.
Police said they're looking for people generating a lot of complaints and making a lot of money. So, if a few people get together for poker night, police said not to worry.
"We've heard reports of $5,000 or $10,000 being on the table at one time," the detective said.
Police said they seized about $3,000 in cash, a computer, and a gaming table along with a lot of chips.
Detectives said they know this is an uphill battle but if nothing else, maybe gamblers will see that police are serious.
Eichel has been in the news before: In 2005, police questioned him and searched his property in the disappearance of Janet March. March’s husband, Perry March, who was later convicted of Janet March’s murder, had been Eichel’s attorney.
In 2002, when Eichel owned a few troubled clubs in Nashville, he spent time in jail for not filing proper IRS documents on money he made.
In Monday night’s raid, he faces charges of promotion of gambling and possession of a gambling device.
Eichel was the only person charged in the raid. Police said they want to focus on the gaming organizers who are making the money.
The other players were all searched, run for warrants and then allowed to go home.

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