Business owners appear in court, busted for illegal gambling

Business owners appear in court, busted for illegal gambling
Slot machines seized from businesses (Source: Sheriff Kevin Molder)

LEPANTO, AR (KAIT) - After several months of an ongoing investigation of illegal gambling operations in Lepanto, the Poinsett County Sheriff's Office executed search warrants to multiple businesses Thursday.

According to Sheriff Kevin Molder, the findings from the warrants determined the businesses operated gambling machines that were paying out winnings in cash, which is against the law.

Those businesses include:

  • Judy’s Snack House at 135 Greenwood Ave.
  • Lepanto Auction at 215 Greenwood Ave.
  • Landen’s Tires at 501 Greenwood Ave.
  • Mama’s Attic at 301 Greenwood Ave.
  • Harbin’s Body Shop at 314 Didemma Ave.
  • T&B Outdoors at 326 Greenwood Ave.

Molder said the owners of each business are now facing charges. Two of the businesses are owned by the same owner.

Molder stated in a press release they are methodically processing the evidence seized in the search warrants due to the complexity of the case.

On Friday, the following appeared for probable cause hearings in front of District Court Judge Ron Hunter:

  • Judy Blocker, owner of Judy’s Snack House. Blocker was charged with one count each of  5-66-103 - Gambling Houses and 5-42-204 - Criminal use of Property - 8 machines were seized from her business.
  • Brandon Harbin owner of Harbin’s Body Shop and T&B Outdoors. Harbin was charged with two counts each of  5-66-103 - Gambling Houses and 5-42-204 - Criminal use of Property – 5 machines were seized at Harbin’s Body Shop, and 3 machines were seized from T&B Outdoors.
  • Richard Collins owner of Mama’s Attic. Collins was charged with one count each of  5-66-103 - Gambling Houses and 5-42-204 - Criminal use of Property - 5 machines were seized from his business.
  • Michael Roach owner of Landon’s Tires. Roach was charged with one count each of  5-66-103 - Gambling Houses and 5-42-204 - Criminal use of Property - 7 machines were seized from his business.
  • Jimmy Laden owner of Lepanto Auction. Laden was charged with one count each of  5-66-103 - Gambling Houses and 5-42-204 - Criminal use of Property - 5 machines were seized from his business.

Each suspect was bound over to Poinsett County Circuit Court on October 30. All were released on their own recognizance.

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