Deputies seize illegal slot machines at VFW post

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) –The Independence County Sheriff's Department busted an illegal gambling operation at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Batesville.

Gary L.. Richardson Jr., the post quartermaster,  now faces felony charges related to the bust after sheriff's deputies took several computer slot machines.

According to a police report, officers began an undercover investigation on September 10 to look into claims of illegal gambling at the post. Officer Brian Luetschwager wrote in his report that an undercover officer went to the VFW with a marked $20 bill and asked the bartender about playing the gaming machines.

The bartender apparently gave the officer a card with a magnetic strip and showed him how to load money onto it using a different machine. After playing the slots for a short while, the officer cashed out and got back about $11 from the bartender and then left.

Two days after the undercover operation, a judge signed a search warrant, and deputies went and seized eight computer gaming machines. They also recovered $1,017 in cash from the machine that people used to load money onto the gaming cards, according to the police report.

Sheriff Steve Jeffery said in a press release Wednesday that after consulting with the local prosecuting attorney, investigators charged Gary Richardson, the VFW post quartermaster, for having illegal gaming devices. County officials, however, were unable to specify when Richardson will appear in court on this misdemeanor charge.

This latest bust comes less than year after a similar incident in Southside. In December 2012, Independence County sheriff's deputies arrested four people there after another investigation into illegal gambling. The officers found several slot machines and more than $2,000 in cash in the back of a shopping center. Investigators also learned that a suspect's grandchildren played on one of the machines that spit out tokens instead of cash.

Region 8 News was unable to reach anyone for comment at the VFW Wednesday. Messages left for Richardson also went unanswered both at the VFW and at his business.

Copyright 2013 KAIT. All rights reserved.