published Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Gambling raids snare 4 Calhoun businesses

Police on Thursday identified four Calhoun, Ga., businesses they say illegally were shelling out hundreds of dollars in cash prizes for video gambling machines.

Six people, either owners or employees supervising or handling the money, were arrested Thursday and charged with misdemeanor counts of commercial gambling and keeping a place of gambling, said Lt. Tony Pyle with the Calhoun Police Department.

At the BP gas station, Abdul Rauf Abdullah was arrested; at Parkland Amusement, Monica Leanne Womack and David B. Holden were arrested; at the Marathon Oil station, Kumar and Bahadur Thapa were arrested, and at North Side Amusement, Manuel Jesus Santos was arrested.

Each business was raided and all the gambling machines taken, Pyle said. None of the businesses had been working together, he said.

Illegal gambling is an off-and-on problem in the city, where most businesses follow the law requiring cash prizes be worth $5 or less, Pyle said. But about once a year, investigators find three to four businesses at a time that are breaking the law and do a similar sting, he said.

"The majority do what they are supposed to do," he said. "[And] once they see this in the paper they have the tendency to fall in line, if nothing else, for a brief time."

All six suspects are being held in the Gordon County Jail without bond. No one answered the phones at the businesses Friday.

Police said the investigation took a month, and Chief Garry Moss said police expect to make more arrests.

Pyle said often the owners are involved in the illegal practice because they financially can benefit from the cash prizes, which attract more business.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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