ANTI-ONLINE GAMBLING RAIDS ON GEORGIA INTERNET STORES
14th March, 2012 at 01:32:30
Seven long-distance calling card stores targeted by Decatur police
Police in Decatur, Georgia raided seven long-distance calling card stores alleged by prosecutors to be fronts for illegal Internet gambling cafes, Associated Press reports.
James Kokott, owner of Big Dawg Calling Cards, was arrested on racketeering charges arising from a DeKalb County indictment that accuses the store owner and two partners of setting up the business to get around laws prohibiting internet gambling.
In addition to Kokott, the indictment names two managers, James A. Clemmons and his wife Marilyn Clemmons. The three are alleged to have earned over $3 million in the last year alone.
"The amount of money that was funneled through this operation was definitely astounding," Nicole Marchand, DeKalb County chief assistant district attorney, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after a raids Tuesday.
Big Dawg Calling Cards operated seven cafes that the indictment alleges were part of a sweepstakes operation associated with the long-distance calling cards they sold.
Customers were told they had to play the sweepstakes to buy the cards, authorities said. Customers would put money on the cards to use in gambling machines and would gain winnings to redeem for cash, authorities claim.
"Governor Deal directed the GBI to start investigations into Internet cafes to try to get a handle on it before it got out of control," Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said. "As part of the investigations, they would send an undercover agent into the locations and play the games."
Authorities searched the seven cafes and Kokott's home Tuesday, but noted the main database of his businesses is located outside of Georgia.
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