Convenience store owners arrested -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Convenience store owners arrested

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –   Three owners of a Dougherty County Convenience store are arrested for money laundering and racketeering.

Dougherty County Sheriff's and District Attorney Office Investigators and the Lee County Sheriff's Office raided the store and two homes early Friday morning. Computers and records were seized. Ayaz Ahmed was arrested in the store.

At the same time two homes in Lee County were raided by Dougherty County Investigators accompanied by Lee County Sheriff's deputies. George Bagain and his wife Melanie Bagain were arrested at 196 Wood Drive. Investigators also raided a home at 116 Flatridge, where more evidence was seized.

Prosecutors say the three were using the store to launder money from a gambling operation.

Last April Sheriff's Investigators raided the Stop-N-Shop on the South Liberty Expressway, and seized several video gambling machines.

Evidence from that raid led to a grand jury indictment this week, charging the three store owners were using the store to launder more than one hundred thousand dollars, buying land, homes, and cars.

A Grand Jury indictment says the three had video gambling machines in the store, and they were laundering the money through racketeering activity.

Dougherty D. A. Greg Edwards said, "The gambling operation was the initial part of it. Money laundering is what we discovered and what we believe will be validated by our search warrant over the course of this year."

Ayaz Ahmed was arrested at the store. Computers and dozens of bags and boxes of evidence, records, receipts, and logs were seized inside the store.

At the same time George Bagain and his wife Melanie Bagain were arrested at a home at 196 Wood Drive in Lee County. Evidence was seized from that home, and also from another home at 116 Flat Ridge Drive in Lee County.

"What they are doing is searching the house for financial documents and such like that, that could lead to information on finances. Which way they going and how much they taken in,"  Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals said.

Bags and bags of files and papers, and computers were also seized from the homes. The indictment says the three store owners through the Sahi Corporation took more than one hundred thousand dollars and used it to buy land, homes, and cars in Dougherty, Lee, Calhoun, and Henry County.

The D. A. says other money was leaving the state, and could have been funding foreign crime organizations. "Ultimately where does it wind up, I cannot say. Is it going to fund terrorist? I don't know. Is that possible? Who knows, possibly."

The state filed a civil suit against the three store owners and their corporation to seize 17 bank accounts, properties including the store, and cars prosecutors say were bought with money from the gambling operation.

The three store owners are still being held in the Dougherty County jail, as the store was seized and locked down. It will be re-opened soon under supervision through the courts with former District Attorney and current candidate for state Attorney General Ken Hodges serving as the receiver.

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