Georgia Supreme Court upholds dismissal of Rossville man's lawsuit

Georgia Supreme Court upholds dismissal of Rossville man's lawsuit

May 31st, 2012 by Joy Lukachick Smith in News

Joe Mohwish was indicted on a gambling charge under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in 2011.

Joe Mohwish was indicted on a gambling charge...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled against a Rossville man whose lawsuit against local officials was thrown out in a lower court.

The Supreme Court ruled that the suit would interfere with the pending criminal case against Joe Mohwish, who faces prosecution for commercial gambling.

Mohwish filed the suit against Lookout Mountain District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin, Rossville Police Chief Sid Adams and the city after his indictment, seeking an order that would have forced them to return confiscated cash and records. He claimed that his arrest was unconstitutional because he was operating a lawful business.

But the suit later was dismissed by Walker County Superior Judge Jon Wood.

Mohwish took the case to the state Supreme Court, representing himself before the state's highest court in April. He argued that Rossville police have no jurisdiction over a raffle license -- which he said he had at the time of his arrest -- and couldn't go into his business and seize his records.

But the justices unanimously upheld Wood's dismissal of the suit and stated in a written summary that Mohwish wanted the trial court in the civil case to interfere with his criminal prosecution.

Such action is prohibited by law, Franklin wrote in a news release.

Mohwish didn't return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

A bench trial hasn't been scheduled yet for Mohwish's gambling case, said his attorney, Steven Miller.

In 2011, Mohwish was indicted on a gambling charge under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act after authorities claimed he was running an illegal gambling operation across North Georgia.

But Mohwish argues he was operating a charitable raffle for the Michigan Barber School, a nonprofit organization, which is legal with a local license. He further argued before the Supreme Court that his records seized by the Rossville police should be returned because he was operating a lawful raffle.

Mohwish also accused Franklin of being racist and targeting his business because he runs raffles for four black nonprofit organizations.

Franklin later said the accusations were made up.

Mohwish, who owns a bingo hall in Rossville, had been investigated before his RICO indictment. In 2004, he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge for operating an adult bookstore within 1,000 feet of a church, records show. The next year, Mohwish closed the store.

Later, police seized gambling machines from a building he leased on Chickamauga Avenue.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.


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