Saturday, August 23, 2008
Video Link http://www.wciv.com/news/stories/0808/546821_video.html?ref=newsstory
A Mount Pleasant judge refuses to throw out a case involving an alleged illegal poker game. The hearing comes more than two years after the incident. The five poker players who've been protesting this case say the law they allegedly violated is unconstitutional and it's wording, vague.
It's on TV, it's online, but playing in your own home when betting is involved, not allowed. That, at least is the opinion of Mount Pleasant Judge Lawrence Duffy. The problem, says Defense Attorney Jeff Phillips, "they focused in on the betting, even though the statute does not focus on the betting."
Phillips, a poker player himself, argued with Judge Duffy saying the statute only prohibits playing games with cards or dice in very specific locations.
"The statute clearly says you cannot play any cards or dice in a house of gaming? How do we know what a house of gaming is? This was not a public place, this was a residence that was not, even if it was used to bet in, was not a house of gaming. It was a house to live in," said Phillips.
Bob Chimento was one of 22 players police say gathered at this Mount Pleasant home for a Texas Hold em match. The game was advertised online with a $20 buy-in.
"They were talking about a high stakes poker game in there. That is absolutely the most ridiculous statement I've heard in my life," said Phillips.
Judge Duffy found the law clear enough, stating that the Supreme Court had cited the statute nine times prior. Phillips calls the comparison misleading. This fight, he says, a first to target the law's unconstitutionality.
From here the defendants plan to go trial or they may consider pleading, so an appeal process may then begin. Earlier this year, another major poker bust, where 19 players were arrested in Hanahan after a raid.
Video link is at the Live5News site.
By Tracey Amick, Live 5 News
CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - More than two years after a Mt. Pleasant poker game is busted by police, a motion to dismiss the case has been denied.
Most of the players have pleaded guilty since then and paid a fine, but five players are holding out. Friday their attorney said there are three reasons this case should be thrown out altogether.
First, Jeff Phillips says it's unconstitutional because the statute on this law is too vague for the average citizen to understand.
Second, he says if the law is to be taken literally, that means no games or cards can ever be played, and there's no way to enforce a ban so broad.
And finally, Phillips says the law specifically mentions a house of gaming, which he says wasn't there when the card game took place.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Looks like Tennessee is CRACKING DOWN on poker!
Printed story below:
Alleged gambling house raided, shut downThursday, August 14, 2008By Brian Mosely
Detective Brian Crews of the Shelbyville Police Department examines a case of poker chips that were seized from the office of an alleged gaming house raided by authorities Tuesday night. The words on the doors at 101 Tillett Circle say "PRIVATE" and "DO NOT ENTER," but those warnings were ignored by local law enforcement Tuesday night when they raided an alleged gambling house.
Following a four-month investigation, Shelbyville police, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, along with an area FBI agent, executed a search warrant on the building where high-dollar poker games allegedly took place once a week.
"People were bragging that this was like 'little Tunica,'" said Det. Brian Crews of the Shelbyville Police Department.
The two accused promoters, 38-year-old James Chad Tucker and his wife Christina Tucker, 37, of Meadowlark Drive, were each charged with one count of aggravated gambling promotion -- a class E felony -- and one count of possession of gambling devices, according to jail records.
The couple were booked into Bedford County Jail and released on $6,000 bond. Four dealers and a security guard were also arrested and charged with aggravated gambling promotion.
A total of 26 players were also each cited for misdemeanor gambling and released. All are scheduled to appear in Bedford County General Sessions Court on Sept. 23.
Authorities seized $48,000 in cash, gambling paraphernalia, a small amount of marijuana and firearms, according to a TBI press release.
Crews said he headed up the investigation, which began after he received information about the alleged gambling operation.
"We've conducted surveillance on the building on several nights and we've also had undercover agents in the building," Crews said.
Crews said the Tuckers had a doorman, Victor Gill, providing security for the gaming house and video cameras covering the outside of the building. Two-way radios were allegedly used so that the operators could know when a player would enter the structure.
Once inside, authorities found four commercial poker tables, each with room for 10 players plus the dealer.
"It was high stakes poker games where they were playing Texas hold 'em," Crews said, with one table having a "buy in" of $1,000, another at $500 and two tables with a $200 "buy-in."
"It was no limit, from what we understand," Crews said of the games.
Players would allegedly purchase poker chips from a cash office set up in one corner of the building run by one of the promoters, Crews said. A player could buy extra chips from the table, but most cash transactions allegedly took place in the office, he said.
"Compared to our surveillance, this was a slow night," Crews said, adding that as many as 50 people would sometimes be in attendance at the gaming house, most of whom were from out of town.
Surveillance had been ongoing for several weeks by Crews, Detective Charles Merlo and an unidentified TBI agent.
This building at 101 Tillett Circle, directly behind Ascend Credit Union, was the location of an alleged gaming house that was raided by local authorities Tuesday night. Along with the four gaming tables, a number of chairs, two large flat screen TVs, a police scanner, thousands of poker chips and decks of cards were seized, Crews said.
Players were also treated to a full buffet, free alcohol and cigarettes, Crews said. Two air purifiers to keep the building smoke free were also taken.
So much evidence was taken from the building that it took a large U-Haul truck to carry it away, Crews said.
The TBI were called in because of the size of the operation, Crews said. The raid was conducted by over 25 officers from the TBI, the Drug Task Force and the THP. Crews noted that the Shelbyville police department "simply doesn't have the manpower here to pull off an operation like that without their assistance."
Crews said the gaming house "had gotten out of control."
"They were bringing people in from all over Tennessee, the types of people they were bringing into this town ... they were dangerous people, drug dealers from other areas, as well as people that were arrested for aggravated gambling promotion in another city," Crews said.
The detective was referring to a gambling bust that took place in December 2006 in La Vergne, in which 22 people were arrested, including a couple from Shelbyville, Steven Colbert and Cathy McPherson, who were charged with the promotion of gambling and aggravated gambling, according to a press release from the city of La Vergne.
The pair were two of the 26 people cited for gambling on Tuesday. Crews said the early part of the investigation involved comparing notes with La Vergne authorities about the 2006 arrests.
Crews said the department was sending a message that "this won't be tolerated. It presents a problem for the city as a whole."
"A lot of people think this is a victimless crime, but ask a lot of these guys' wives if this is victimless," Crews said.
Crews also said that police know this isn't the only gaming house in town, stating that others have "opened up over the last few months."
"They've taken off like wildfire; we're just hoping to cut the head of the snake off."
A total of 33 people are facing charges in connection with a raid on an alleged gaming house in Shelbyville Tuesday night.
Charged with aggravated gambling promotion are:
James C. Tucker, 38, Shelbyville.
Christina D. Tucker, 37, Shelbyville.
Neal C. Phillips, 27, Woodbury.
Samuel C. Owens, 27, Smyrna.
Victor G. Gill, 48, Shelbyville.
Andrew W. Craze, 26, Oliver Springs.
Christian E. Jeppsen II, 24, Bell Buckle.
Charged with misdemeanor gambling are:
Gilbert B. McCarter, 58, Shelbyville.
Michael J. Swain, 36, Shelbyville.
Terry W. Johnson, 50, Columbia.
Cecil H. Robinette, 52, Mt. Pleasant.
Larry D. Wilson, 50, Smyrna.
Anthony Boyce, 35, Shelbyville.
Sompong Ouanevima, 33, Murfreesboro.
Steven R. Colbert, 43, Shelbyville.
Cathy D. McPherson, 24, Shelbyville.
Linda S. Pogue, 62, Huntland.
Shannon H. Jennings, 37, Murfreesboro.
Kenneth C. Spasoff, 24, Wartrace.
Robert D. White, 29, Mt. Pleasant.
Bruce Y. Peery III, 30, Dickson.
Nathan F. Forrest, 34, Nashville.
Donald G. Patterson, 59, Fayetteville.
Christohper W. Simons, 27, Shelbyville.
Audie W. Stewart, 57, Nashville.
Gary A Coleman, 58, Lynchburg.
Timothy L. Hill, 27, Unionville.
James M. Leazott, 53, Lynnville.
Christopher S. Yokely, 20, Ethridge.
Hugh T. Herrington, Jr., 24, Pulaski.
James M. Warr, 63, Memphis.
Pamela J. Williams, 53, Bell Buckle.
Carl E. Harris, 31, Shelbyville.
Channel 5 news video link:
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - Police arrested 33 people and seized $48,000 after raiding an illegal gambling operation in Bedford County.
According to a press release issued by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, police raided a Shelbyville building around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday night. They found four commercial poker tables with room for 10 players each.
More than two dozen players were charged with gambling and released.
Two promoters were arrested, who police identified as James Chad Tucker, 38, and his wife, Christina Tucker, 37, both of Shelbyville. The couple was booked into the Bedford County Jail on charges of aggravated gambling promotion and possession of gambling devices.
Four dealers and one security guard were also booked on charges of aggravated gambling promotion.
Investigators seized $48,000 in cash, gambling paraphernalia, marijuana and firearms.
The TBI, Shelbyville Police Department, 17th Judicial Drug Task Force and the Tennessee Highway Patrol were involved in the raid.
Investigators had been aware of the operation for about 4 months, and believed it to be operation for less than one year.
By Mike Petersmpeters@greeleytribune.com
A battle is quickly brewing between the owners of Rafferty’s Bar in west Greeley and the state agencies that arrested five of their patrons for gambling.About 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Greeley police, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Colorado Liquor Board conducted a raid of the bar and arrested five people on misdemeanor ganmbling charges.Greeley police spokesman Sgt. Joe Tymkowych identified the people who were arrested as:• Kevin P. Raley, 43, Windsor, a table dealer;• Timothy Oullette, 45, Greeley, table dealer;• Mary Lynch Paiz, 57, Greeley, game manager/coordinator• James R. Vaughn, 39, Evans, table dealer• Branden E. Waddle, 30, Greeley, game manager/coordinator They were all booked into the Weld County Jail on charges of professional gambling, then released on $3,000 bond.But the owners of the popular Greeley nightclub said the state officials were out of line with the raid.“This was a poker club” said Rafferty’s co-owner Rich Miner. “The house didn’t take a cut of the money, we didn’t force anyone to buy drinkds, we made sure we met all the state requirments.”The club plays on Tuesday and Sunday nights, Mibner said, and everyone who joins is required to read the by-laws, which qualify it as a club. “There was nothing secret about it,” Miner said. ‘It was on our website and we had posters in the bar.”Miner and co-owner Steve White cited a state law defining “social gambling” as legal if the people have a “bona fide social relationship.” The men say the club members were themselves a social organization, so they met the requirements of social gambling.But, according to Mark Couch, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue, for gambling to be conducted in a place where liquor is sold is illegal in Colorado. “If they have a Colorado liquor license,”Couch said, “games of chance are not allowed.” The exception, of course, are the Colorado towns that allow legal gambling.
by Paul A. Romer - Telegram Staff WriterPublished August 15, 2008215 Views View Map
BELTON - The Bell County District Attorney’s Office hoped circumstantial evidence was enough to prevail in a case against a man they believe was the getaway driver in a heist that took place in June 2007 at a high-stakes poker game in Killeen.
It found out Tuesday that the evidence presented didn’t warrant a conviction when a jury, convened in 264th State District Court, deliberated for four hours and 20 minutes before returning a not guilty verdict on behalf of Calvin Dewayne Williams, 26, of Killeen.
Williams was exonerated on two counts of aggravated robbery.
“I totally respect the verdict of the jury. What we had was a largely circumstantial case,” prosecutor Mike Waldman said. “I believe Calvin was the driver …What I think happened was the jury did a good job following their oath and I think they found that we didn’t prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Williams’ car was used in the late-night heist, which occurred in 2900 block of Tucson Street in a gated community.
A would-be participant in the poker game drove up to the house and saw men dressed in black run from the house and get into a car.
The man told police he continued past the house with the car following behind him and was able to get the car’s license plate number.
Police tracked the car to Williams, who lived less than two miles from the robbery scene.
When officers arrived they knocked on the front door.
“My client was just at home and didn’t know anything was going on,” said Jack Holmes, Williams’ attorney. “He didn’t even know his car had been used.”
An officer stationed at the backyard of the property said he heard someone scale a rear fence and then saw a man run to a creek bed where he attempted to hide, according to court documents.
Police said that man was 22-year-old Richard Daniel Moaney IV, who pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery in February and is serving a 45-year prison term.
Waldman called Moaney “the main actor.” He said Moaney was the one who kicked in the door and pistol-whipped one of the poker players.
“He did that while he was on felony probation for engaging in organized criminal activity,” Waldman said.
Police reported finding two handguns along with $16,000, wallets and cell phones that matched those stolen in the robbery in a woodpile at a house next door to Williams’ house.
“We didn’t have anyone who could say for sure it was Calvin (driving),” Waldman said. “Our case was nothing more than circumstances that we put together. I think the jury wanted more.”
Waldman said he explained the nature of the case to the victims before it went to trial.
“They are happy with the way we tried the case,” he said. “They understand.”
The homeowner told police that after his door was kicked in two men with coverings over their faces and pistols in their hands ordered everyone to get down on the floor.
A guest who told police he refused to lie on the floor said he was pistol whipped and then slashed across his chest with a knife.
Moaney traveled from the Telford Unit in New Boston to testify at the trial but was never called.
Holmes said Moaney’s story was that Williams was not involved in the heist.
When asked why he didn’t call Moaney as a witness Waldman spoke about Moaney’s felony convictions.
“I sure didn’t want to sponsor him as one of my witnesses,” he said. “I didn’t care what he had to say.”
Since Williams was only charged with two counts of aggravated robbery and there were a total of eight victims, the state could potentially charge Williams with six other counts.
“No other charges are being considered,” Waldman said. “The jury spoke and we totally respect that.”
Police believe four men participated in the heist. The only people ever arrested in the case were Moaney and Williams.
Saturday, August 09, 2008