Grand Jury indicts 6 on commercial gambling

Grand Jury indicts 6 on commercial gambling

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A grand jury has indicted six people on commercial gambling charges after an investigation and raid that led to the arrest of more than a dozen Albany area business leaders.

Robert Brooks, Brian Hatcher, Todd Kegler, Daniel Gloria, Rick Wagner, and Jim Phelps were all indicted on 9 counts of commercial gambling.

On June 3, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents arrested 14 men when they raided a poker game at the former Riverhouse Restaurant on Lake Chehaw.

Agents seized two guns and $20,000 in cash from the property. Several of the men arrested said the game had been going on for years.

The indictment says Brooks owned the RiverHouse, and collected money from the poker games as rent. It also states that Kegler was a middle-man between Brooks and the poker players who collected the house money, and served as a dealer in the games.

Documents also show that Brian Hatcher collected money from the poker games to pay the rent and utilities, and provided the poker tables and chips for the games.

Prosecutors said former Albany Police Officer Jim Phelps would hold the money and open the building, and Wagner's Bar-B-Que owner Rick Wagner would cater the games. The indictment states further that Daniel Gloria cleaned up after the games.

Those arrested included former Albany Mayor Willie Adams.

An attorney for Brooks said his client is innocent.

"I think it's overkill. But it would seem to me that there a lot more criminal activities going on in South Georgia. Particulary [in] Albany, that maybe the law enforcement as well as the District Attorney's office could focus on."

Brimberry also questioned why the 12 other men arrested during the raid were not indicted, including former Albany Mayor Willie Adams.

Adams' attorney Chris Cohilas issued a statement, saying, "We are very pleased to see the state did not seek indictment against Mayor Willie Adams."

District Attorney Greg Edwards announced in June that he would not handle the cases against the men because of personal relationships that he and his staff have with some of them.

The full list of those arrested:

Willie Adams Jr.
Robert Nelson Brooks
Page Elliott Keen of Leesburg
Jerome Hubbard
Donald R. Bell
Charlie Cliff Carswell
William Connell
Anthony Forsythe of Cordele
James David Howell of Doerun
Todd William Kegler of Dawson
Travis Landon Kierce of Leesburg
Santy Solis
Alvin Whelchel
Harry Wayne Wimbourn Jr.

In Georgia, wagering some money on a hole of golf and small bets in popular card games is by law considered gambling, and illegal.

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