Three NRI Gujaratis including two women held on illegal gambling at food marts in America, 20 machines confiscated
Columbus, 24 June 2012
Three NRI Gujaratis were put behind bars Monday after an illegal gambling bust at two Columbus food marts.
39-year-olds Viraj Shah and Kinnariben Shah (both 39) worked at Sunny’s Food Mart and Nikunjkuman Patel(26)worked at Steam Mill Food Mart.
Viraj Shah and Patel are charged with commercial gambling, keeping a place with gambling, possession of tools in commission of a crime and communicating gambling.
Kinnariben Shah is facing a commercial gambling charge.
Columbus Police Department’s Special Operatives unit simultaneously raided two local food marts this afternoon for what they say is allegedly illegal gambling.
Police say they received several tips that illegal activity was going on at Sunny’s Food Mart on Buena Vista and Steam Mill Road Food Mart.
“We are serving search warrants and arrests warrants. We have conducted investigations into both businesses and have probable cause to believe commercial gambling is going on,” Captain Gil Slouchick says.
Undercover agents went into the businesses today and say both stores had several illegal gambling machines.
Police confiscated less than 20 machines from both stores.
“We are investigating records, seizing money, seizing the machines, seizing anything that has to do with the gambling operation,” Slouchick says.
Columbus Police say what makes these machines illegal is that customers receive a cash prize.
“There are some machines in Columbus that are for amusement only or that you can be paid in store credit for something inside the store for no more than $5 in value, but you can’t go in put your money in the machine and get cash, that’s commercial gambling,” Slouchick says.
Sunny’s Food Mart has been open less than three months. The space was previously owned by Dolly Madison.
Police say they are still investigating and expect more arrests in the case.
Patel and Shahs have made bond, Muscogee County Jail records state.
“We anticipate more arrests in the case,” Capt. Gil Slouchick said.
All three face charges of commercial gambling, keeping a place of gambling, possession of tools during the commission of a crime and communicating gambling information. They each made their $8,500 bonds the day of their arrest, records state.
“The machines were in the business, open in the business,” Slouchick said. “We got bills out of the machines — ones, fives, tens and twenties.”
It appeared that no one was restricted from accessing the machines. After playing, winners would collect their money from the front counter, Slouchick said.
The machines are now stored in a police evidence room, he added.
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