ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Retired doctor and former Albany Mayor Willie Adams and prominent businessman Bob Brooks were arrested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Monday.
GBI Special Agent in Charge of the Sylvester Office Kim Baker says Adams, Brooks and several others were arrested during the execution of a search warrant at a former restaurant located on North Jefferson Street at Lake Chehaw.
Both Adams and Brooks posted a $500 bond and were released from jail.
Their arrests are drawing a lot of criticism from the public. The GBI calls the poker game "high stakes gambling." The DA may recuse himself because of personal dealings with several of the men.
GBI agents and Dougherty County Sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant at the old River House Restaurant off Jefferson Street about 8PM.
GBI Special Agent In Charge Kim Baker said "The search resulted from information we got regarding illegal gambling occurring at that location."
The GBI said this poker game has been under investigation since March. Agents seized two guns and $20,000 and called it high stakes gambling.
Baker said, "The concern was, and what made this illegal was the money. Money was being exchanged and the games were being bet on."
We talked with several of the men arrested, but none would go on camera. One was upset because the GBI rushed in with guns drawn, as he said treating them like outlaws. All described this as just a friendly poker game that has been going on for years between friends, not a serious crime.
Agents and Prosecutors disagree. Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards said "Gambling is a crime in Georgia of course. All crimes are considered serious. There may be felonies that might arise out of this situation as based on the investigation. That is still ongoing."
All 14 men were charged with misdemeanor gambling, booked at the Dougherty County jail, and released on $500 bond this morning.
GBI agents say they always go into a raid as if there was a serious threat to their safety, and that's why they had guns drawn.
Dr. Adams wants to speak with his attorney before making any statements.
All forms of gambling Except the state-run lottery Are illegal in Georgia. That includes even a friendly card game if money is on the line. Anyone caught gambling can be charged with a misdemeanor.
"If you have a concern or question about what you are doing and you want to find out if you are being legal or not legal, contact your local authorities or your District Attorney, to get his opinion on what you are doing," said Baker.
There are exceptions made in the gambling law for raffles and gaming that benefit charities.
Here is a list of all those charged with gambling, and all released $500.00 bond at 4:00am Tuesday-
Willie Adams Jr.
Robert Nelson Brooks
Page Elliott Keen of Leesburg
Donald R. Bell
Charlie Cliff Carswell
Anthony Forsythe of Cordele
James David Howell of Doerun
Todd William Kegler of Dawson
Travis Landon Kierce of Leesburg
Harry Wayne Wimbourn, Jr.