ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A couple of convenience stores were roped off this morning, as agents from multiple agencies staged raids to stop illegal gambling, and two men are arrested, so far.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has arrested Michael Grier, 54 and Naineshkumar Patel, 40.
Patel owns two of the stores raided, and Grier works at the North Slappey location.
Both men are charged with felony commercial gambling. That's a felony that could come with a one to five year sentence and $20 thousand dollar fine, if convicted.
Search warrants were executed at the BP Station, 1817 North Slappey Blvd.and Shell Station, at 2824 Old Dawson Road in Albany. Officers also executed a warrant at a Lee County home.
The GBI's Commercial Gambling Unit, the Dougherty District Attorney's Office, and the Albany Police Department, and in cooperation with the Georgia Lottery Corporation and the Georgia Department of Revenue executed three search warrants in Dougherty County and Lee County, for violations of Georgia's commercial gambling laws.
"We think it has been a job well done," said District Attorney Greg Edwards. "This is a culmination of pretty investigative work. So we are moving forward with the operation."
Agents collected evidence of commercial gambling, and seized cash gained from the illegal use of gaming machines.
Both business locations are licensed to operate coin operated amusement machines, but they were paying off in cash, not lottery tickets or store merchandise.
Despite multiple signs posted in the stores, investigators say day after day, the crime is happening all over Georgia.
GBI Special Agent Cindy Ledford said illegal commercial gambling is a problem state-wide. She said in 2016 alone, over $2 billion in cash went into the machines.
Ledford said GBI agents have seen a drastic difference in the amount of money coming out of machines that are giving cash rewards.
in Albany the machines at the stores are no longer active. As for the stores themselves, the district attorney's office has taken both stores business licenses away.
Multiple arrests are pending.
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