Bibb prosecutors strike $1 million settlement in civil gambling case

Bibb County prosecutors have reached a $1 million settlement with nine stores that were shuttered last year in the county’s largest commercial gambling raid.

Prosecutors filed a civil racketeering case against the stores in November seeking the forfeiture of seized money, property and other assets from the stores, alleging that the proceeds came from illegal gambling.

The stores are accused of paying winnings in cash instead of in store credit or lottery tickets as the law allows.

Stores included in the settlement were: Reliance Food Mart, 3609 Pio Nono Ave.; LuLu’s Lottery Store, 3253 Mercer University Drive; Reliance Food Mart, 3590 Napier Ave.; Food Mart, 4381 Mercer University Drive; Quick Serve, 584 Emery Highway; Sunoco, 2440 Shurling Drive; Bateman & Wade Grocery, 2283 Clayton St.; Market Place, 4515 Hartley Bridge Road; and Quick Serve, 2260 Shurling Drive, according to the agreement filed in Bibb County Superior Court on Friday.

“Today we got justice in the civil action,” District Attorney David Cooke said of the settlement. “Make no mistake, the criminal prosecution is still ongoing.”

Krunal Patel, 38; Harpreet Kaur, 40; Shuken Patel, 29; and Navpreet Kaur, 39, have been charged with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Vinod J. Patel, 46, and Hardeep Kaur, 67, are charged with commercial gambling.

A message seeking comment from an attorney representing the stores wasn’t immediately returned Friday.

By entering into the settlement, the stores haven’t admitted to any wrongdoing, according to the agreement.

The stores have agreed to pay the $1 million total in lieu of turning over property seized in last year’s raids. The money is due within 90 days and will be split between the district attorney’s office and the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

Cooke’s office is set to receive 65 percent of the money, with the sheriff’s office getting the remainder, according to a judge’s order accompanying the settlement agreement.

As part of the settlement, the stores are permanently barred from obtaining a license to operate coin-operated amusement machines, the video gaming machines commonly found in Middle Georgia.

Owners of the Shell station at 1585 Forest Hill Road struck a separate settlement with prosecutors in December for $175,000.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.