Crime

Bibb County deputy arrested in statewide racketeering scheme involving gambling machines

Gambling machine owner describes how to play

Butch Foshee, president of the Georgia Music and Amusement Operators Association demonstrates how to play a gambling machine. Similar machines are located in Macon area convenience stores.
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Butch Foshee, president of the Georgia Music and Amusement Operators Association demonstrates how to play a gambling machine. Similar machines are located in Macon area convenience stores.

A Bibb County sheriff’s deputy was among those arrested after an investigation into a statewide racketeering enterprise.

Deputy Rahim Jamal McCarley, 23, of Macon, owns one of three Macon stores raided by authorities Tuesday. He was charged with racketeering.

McCarley allegedly participated in a scheme involving bribery, tax evasion and money laundering that pocketed nearly a half million dollars in profits from illegal gambling in his store in a little more than a year, according to a news release.

His arrest was part of an announcement from Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke of the filing of civil forfeiture action against four gambling master license holders: S&W Amusement Inc., Booray Group LLC, Krishna Amusement Inc. and PNP Amusement Games LLC.

With hubs located in Bibb, Bullock and Chatham counties, the license-holders own more than 400 gambling machines at about 70 reportedly legitimate business locations throughout the state, according to the release.

They are accused of failing pay taxes on more than $39 million in profits from illegal operation of video gambling machines in 2017 and 2018, the release said. During the same time period, customers gambled more than $121 million on the machines and received $82 million in cash and prizes.

Additionally, stakeholders at these companies and the owners of convenience stores allegedly laundered gambling profits by funneling millions of dollars through the trusts without paying required taxes, the release said.

The license holders also set up “straw men” at store locations as storefronts established for the machines, the release said. This allowed license holders to keep gambling proceeds instead of sharing them with store owners as required by state law. The proceeds allegedly were not reported for tax purposes.

The stores allegedly accepted monetary inducements and did not report them as income, the release said. The inducements were allegedly paid by license holders to entice store locations to place their machines in the stores, the release said.

The other Macon stores raided Tuesday include Quick Serve at 1106 Rocky Creek Road and the Exxon at 4290 Dellwood Drive.

Racketeering charges were also filed against Manoj J. Patel, 47, of Rincon; Nital Kumar Raval, 39, of Statesboro; Bhunica Ambu, 31, of Savannah; and Zankhana Patel, 31, of Rincon, accordng to the release.

Calling the gambling machines a “cancer on our society,” Cooke reiterated his call for the state to ban them.

“Today’s forfeiture action and the associated criminal case are just another example of the negative impact these gambling machines have on our community and our state,” Cooke said at a news conference that was aired on Facebook.

“In addition to the financial crimes associated with their operation, this type of gambling has been described by experts as being incredibly addictive, hooking our society’s most vulnerable members into gambling away money they can’t afford to lose,” Cooke said. “This just compounds the challenges we face relating to poverty, blight and violent crime.”

The IRS, Georgia Lottery, Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Commercial Gambling Unit and the Georgia Department of Revenue, and the Eastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office assisted with the case, the release said.

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Becky Purser covers breaking and Houston County news. She previously covered crime and courts for Houston and Peach counties for The Telegraph. A graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville with a bachelor’s degree in communications/news-editorial sequence, Becky also has covered city and county government for Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia newspapers.
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