Police charged three people and seized 46 gambling machines Friday during raids at six Columbus businesses.
Police Capt. Gil Slouchick said more arrests may follow in the joint investigation of gambling machines by the Special Operations Unit and the regional Metro Narcotics Task Force.
The suspects were identified as Ankitkuma V. Patel, 35, manager of Quick Mini Mart at 1344 Broadway; Yeong Su Kim, 65, manager of Lil Kim's Cove at 101 Fourth St. and Ngan Thu Nguyen, 44, clerk at Ray's Food Mart, 3822 Hamilton Road. Nguyen and Kim were each charged with one count of commercial gambling, a felony, and keeping a place of for gambling.Patel faces one count of commercial gambling.
Search warrants were also executed at the Marathon service station on Second Avenue, Sonoco on Buena Vista Road and the Lucky Food Mart on Floyd Road but no one was taken into custody, police said.
The raids and arrests stem from several months of investigation, said police Lt. Charlie Kennedy of the task force. “We are trying to clear up some of the gambling cases we have been working on for several months,” he said.
At each business, Kennedy said the operators were in violation of state law. They were paying people in cash and giving out gift cards to other stores in amounts over $5.
“All of these businesses are doing that,” Kennedy said. “They are either paying out in cash or paying with Walmart gift cards.”
Police were only able to arrest the person who is paying the money out for gambling. Businesses with gambling machines can legally give an in store credit as long as it’s not over $5.