MACON, Ga. - Only Channel 2 Action News was with agents for a statewide gambling raid that involved about 70 stores and about 400 gambling machines.
Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke brought a civil anti-corruption law case, listing pages and pages of defendants, but now there are criminal charges, as well, including one against a young deputy that Chanel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne met as he walked into a Macon convenience store.
Deputy Rahim McCarley owns the store.
“Any illegal gambling going on here?” Winne asked McCarley.
“I have no idea,” McCarley answered.
“Aren’t you the owner?” Winne asked.
McCarley didn’t respond to the question. His store was among dozens throughout the state that were raided Tuesday by several law enforcement agencies, including the Georgia Department of Revenue, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.
One official told Winne that McCarley was summoned to his store, not expecting to find agents inside.
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He’s being charged right now with one count of racketeering based on bribery, money laundering and tax evasion,” Cooke said.
Georgia Department of Revenue Deputy Commissioner Jessica Simmons told Winne that authorities executed search warrants at businesses and homes in Macon, Statesboro, Rincon and Savannah, for an investigation into a company placing coin-operated amusement machines in McCarley’s store and others.
She said that company is under investigation for tax evasion.
“This store, along with others, were paying out cash for amusement machine winnings?” Winne asked Simmons.
“Yes, we believe so,” Simmons said. “Over $3 million in unremitted sales and use tax.”
It is illegal to pay out cash from the machines in Georgia.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said McCarley was an Atlanta police officer before Bibb County hired him about a year ago.
The Sheriff's Office has assisted in the gambling investigation for weeks.
“Our internal affairs unit has been alerted to these enforcement actions,” Davis said.
Off camera, McCarley suggested to Winne that he had no knowledge of cash payouts.
“The main person is based in Statesboro. It’s a sensitive investigation because he has made it a point to ingratiate himself with police,” Ron Braxley, with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said in a pre-raid briefing.
Braxley said that includes two deputies in another county.
“We hear about the personal cost in all cases like this, that these kinds of machines are designed to be addictive and that they prey on people who are down to their last hope and their last dollar,” Cooke said.
Cooke told Winne that five people were charged with racketeering from Tuesday’s raids. Cooke said customers gambled more than $121 million on machines in 2017 and 2018 across the 70 stores, receiving $82 million in cash and prizes.
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