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Saturday, December 15th, 2007

4 Lawmen Busted

Written by Tom Somach in Poker News

An ex-North Carolina sheriff and three ex-deputies, whose job included keeping their county clean of unlawful gambling, have been indicted on extortion charges for accepting bribes from illegal video poker operators to look the other way.

According to news reports out of Ashville, N.C., indicted were former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford and former Buncombe County Deputies Lt. Ronnie Eugene “Butch” Davis, Capt. Guy Penland and Lt. John Harrison.

All four were arrested Thursday and face other charges, including mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstruction of state and local law enforcement, the reports said.

Federal prosecutors allege the defendants helped video poker operators by not enforcing laws, and in some cases, providing grand jury surveillance and information that would only be known to law enforcement, the reports said.

The indictment stated that on one occasion, Deputy Shefiff Penland checked the license plate number of an FBI agent watching a video poker location, and that Deputy Sheriff Davis warned video poker operators that search warrants were being executed, the reports said.

A local businessman, Jack W. Shepherd of Weaverville, N.C., also was arrested Thursday in connection with the case, but there was no immediate word on the charges against him, the reports said.

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

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