Crime

Gambling machine company owner pleads guilty to criminal charges in $240 million enterprise

DA describes $240 million gambling enterprise

Sandip Patel, principal owner of Forest Park-based Sudama Resorts LLC., pleaded guilty Monday, May 8, 2017, to three counts of commercial gambling in a Bibb County Superior Court hearing in Macon, Georgia.
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Sandip Patel, principal owner of Forest Park-based Sudama Resorts LLC., pleaded guilty Monday, May 8, 2017, to three counts of commercial gambling in a Bibb County Superior Court hearing in Macon, Georgia.

The “principal” owner of Forest Park-based Sudama Resorts LLC, a company that last week agreed to forfeit $1.6 million in a racketeering and illegal gambling lawsuit, pleaded guilty Monday to criminal charges.

Sandip Patel, 41, pleaded guilty to three counts of commercial gambling. As part of a plea agreement, he was sentenced to one year on house arrest followed by four years on probation.

The key part of Patel’s plea agreement is his continuing cooperation with authorities and his testimony in future proceedings, if he’s called as a witness.

Patel also was granted immunity from being prosecuted for statements he makes while helping authorities.

“His medical condition and extreme cooperation with the state are the only things that saved him from the penitentiary,” said Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke.

If sent to prison, taxpayers would have to pay for his medical care, Cooke said.

Prior to July 1, 2015, owners of coin operated amusement machines and convenience stores where they’re placed were required by law to self-report the amount of money played on the machines and the net profits received monthly.

The machines were directly connected to a central computer system that recorded customers’ play and winnings beginning July 1, 2015.

In order to be legal, the games must require an element of skill and cash payouts are prohibited. Winnings can be redeemed for store credit, gas, merchandise or lottery tickets.

Sudama Resorts, the owner of 600 machines placed at 100 locations across the state, self-reported that $15 million was played between July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2015, Cooke said during Patel’s plea hearing Monday in Bibb County Superior Court.

During the same period, Sudama reported $12 million was paid in winnings and receiving a $3 million profit, he said.

The central computer system reported players played more than $12 million between July 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2015, nearly as much in three months as the company had reported for all of a 12-month period, he said.

Winnings for the three months totaled $8 million and profits were recorded at $4 million, Cooke said.

In the last five years players have fed $240 million into Sudama machines and been paid $168 million, he said.

Cooke said undercover police officers played the machines and received illegal cash payouts at more than a quarter of the locations where Sudama machines were present.

He said reports filed by Patel and others were falsified monthly reports filed with the state, filed false tax returns and failed to pay Georgia sales or use taxes on the winnings paid out.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.

Amy Leigh Womack: 478-744-4398, @awomackmacon

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