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Friday, March 30th, 2007

Cops Bust North Carolina Poker Club

BY TOM SOMACH

Police in North Carolina raided an illegal poker club and charged 41 people with criminal offenses, state media reported.

The raid occurred last week in Cary, N.C., a suburb of state capital Raleigh, they reported.

Acting on a tip, Cary police, assisted by Federal, State and County law enforcement officials, including the North Carolina National Guard, raided a non-descript warehouse in a Cary industrial park shortly after midnight on March 23, and found numerous people engaged in poker-playing, state media reported.

Police charged the man who leased the warehouse and ran the club, Matthew McCoy, 25, of Cary, with three misdemeanor offenses: gambling, unauthorized possession of liquor and possession for sale of alcoholic beverages without a permit, they reported.=A0

Police also charged one of the poker players, William Tillman, 45, of Raleigh, with three misdemeanor offenses: gambling, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, state media reported.

In addition, 39 other poker players–men and women ranging in age from 21 to 70–were each charged with one misdemeanor count of gambling, they reported.

During the raid, police confiscated about $20,000 in cash, a gun and a quantity of heroin, state media reported.

Cary Police Captain Dave Wulff told the Raleigh Chronicle that the illegal poker operation had been going on for at least a month and that the warehouse had been hosting large poker games up to five times a week.

“This was not just a friendly game of poker, this was a high stakes game for profit,” Wulff told the Chronicle.

Wulff also told the newspaper that the operation took a financial cut from the games (a rake) to make a profit and also sold liquor to players without a liquor license for additional revenue.

He said there were six tables at the club, with 10 to 12 seats at each table, where the players played poker, but no paraphernalia for any other gambling games.

“While we realize and appreciate that many friends and neighbors enjoy playing cards and other games in good fun as part of their recreational activities, doing so for money simply isn’t legal in our state,” Wulff said.

Ironically, the illegal poker club shared a parking lot with a church.

Pastor Maurice Wright of the New Destiny Church said he was unaware the warehouse was a poker club.

“We actually had no idea, except sometimes you would see a lot of cars here at night,” Wright told WTVD, a Raleigh television station.

So who tipped off the cops?

They won’t say, of course.

But in situations like this, it’s often a disgruntled gambler who has lost big and wants revenge.

Or sometimes it’s the gambler’s spouse, who wants to make sure the family’s weekly paycheck is no longer gambled away.

(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected]) =A0

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