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Two Smyrna Businesses Busted for Illegal Gambling

Investigators say illegal cash-based gambling occurred at Howard's Deli and Cigar Villa.

More than 20 people have been arrested after investigators conducted two illegal gambling busts at and .

The Marietta Daily Journal reported that three Howard’s Deli employees were arrested after they allegedly used cash payments from registers to award electronic gambling winners. The arrests came as the result of a four-month-long sting operation conducted by the Marietta/Cobb/Smyrna Narcotics and Intelligence Unit.

The MDJ report said Smyrna residents Patricia Church, 51, and Vanessa Nagy, 24, and Marietta resident Patty Furr would accept video gaming vouchers for restaurant tabs in exchange for cash from the registers. All three women were charged with felony commercial gambling. Church and Nagy were also charged with video amusement gambling, a misdemeanor.

Gambling for money is illegal in Georgia.

“You can’t pay out in cash rewards,” said Cobb Police Public Information Officer Dana Pierce. “You and I could play chip poker all day long, but when we start laying money on the table is when it becomes illegal.”

A similar bust occurred at Cigar Villa on Aug. 15. Police executed a search warrant that uncovered video gaming machines and illegal poker games. Pierce said that the business owner and 17 poker players were arrested as a result of the search.

“These apparently are cash-based poker games,” he said “The MCSU intelligence side went ahead with their investigation and as a result of this undercover investigation the agents were paid money for their successful play and also participated in a cash-based poker game in the back of a business.”

Pierce said most of the illegal gambling operations MCSU responds to are the result of complaints.

“I wouldn’t even say it was a proactive approach,” he said. “They were all complaint-based. There’s a lot of that that goes on as far as the illegal activity, but I can tell you their resources are dedicated to those that come in on a complaint status.”

Smyrna-Vinings Patch is attempting to obtain arrest warrants for the Cigar Villa bust and will have more details as they are available.

TimD August 22, 2012 at 02:34 PM
A poker game isn't exactly nefarious activity and I don't think saying you know about one is really making allegations towards anyone. The difference is the poker at Twisted Taco and Tilted KIlt (not sure about the other places) is you don't have to put money in to play and you don't get cash if you win, therefore it's not gambling - it's just a way to draw in customers.
Oscar G. August 22, 2012 at 05:49 PM
"most of the illegal gambling operations MCSU responds to are the result of complaints." Sound like Sour Grapes or retribution to anyone else? No one complains when they feel they're getting their fair share. And, was I the only one who chuckled when I saw the words "Smyrna" and "Intelligence" in the same sentence? I've also legitimately heard that Max Bacon frequents Howards and not only has a bar stool with his name on it, but plays poker there as well. Truth or fiction, that's what the good people of Smyrna have said for years about our illustrious mayor. And people's Perception is what shapes their reality.
Bob Allen August 22, 2012 at 07:45 PM
So what. If I deal dope and nobody complains is it OK? The police are doing their jobs. Their bosses are being told what to do. THE GA. LOTTERY is PULLING THE STATE STRINGS RIGHT NOW. The state should allow these games to pay into a grant fund. This would equal No more uneducated children.
Freya Stark August 22, 2012 at 08:53 PM
In 2001 the Marietta/Cobb/Smyrna Narcotics Unit put a young looking undercover police officer in his early 20s in a Cobb Co. high school to operate a drug sting on students.
David Jones August 22, 2012 at 08:55 PM
You people MAKE ME SICK. You have nothing else to complain about other than police officers/investigators doing what they're paid to do by you so called tax paying citizens. I don't know if I should feel sorry for you or envy you. Go get a life.
TimD August 22, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Overreact much?
Freya Stark August 22, 2012 at 09:12 PM
In the early 1990s a Markell D. Boulis made national news when he paid a large sum of money for his freedom in an Atlanta area cocaine case. His jail term was eliminated after he made a $200,000 "donation" to the Marietta-Cobb-Smyrna Narcotics Unit. The laws were changed in Georgia so that couldn't happen again.
NWA August 22, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Im still laughing Robert the jewel and Bug the Pollock got locked up. Ha ha ha Karma baby!
226 August 22, 2012 at 11:03 PM
If they had to arrest 23 people it sounds to me like they didn't bring enough Agents and I know they definitely didn't fit them all into two paddy wagons. 23 people with a $10 buy in is $230 to the house every hand. Not exactly your typical friendly card game in your neighbor's basement. Quite a bit of money and why does it matter who complained about it? Illegal activity is illegal activity.
Chris Long August 22, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Tim, what Lissa & several others routinely do is try insinuate wrongdoing & give the appearance of impropriety on the part of city employees every chance they get. This happens all the time...many times its done w/o any proof whatsoever, & sometimes their drivel is demonstrably false. In this case, Lissa is trying to lump the mayor in w/a story about illegal gambling, as if to tie him to the activity. Sadly, they don't seem to realize, or care, that when they actually have legit criticisms they fall on deaf ears b/c of this nonsense. Personally, I don't think gambling should be illegal to begin with, but it is, so I don't have a problem w/the police doing their jobs. Though for what it's worth, topical article from yesterday..."Poker Is More a Game of Skill Than of Chance, a Judge Rules". (http://goo.gl/AtkR9)
Chris Long August 22, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Agreed on all accounts. This is what happens when people try to legislate morality. It forces the police to tie-up resources that could be better served elsewhere. Of course, if you told people that the proceeds would go to help fund education, the fundies who are against gambling now would fall all over themselves to vote for it b/c it "helps the children".
Chris Long August 22, 2012 at 11:36 PM
This has nothing to do w/the police. They are doing their sworn duty to uphold the law. The problem is the law(s).
another comment August 23, 2012 at 01:39 AM
That is really how Bill Campbell got taken down. I told the FBI about the Friday night poker games, that the late Ricky Rowe held the key to the door whether or not you came in or not. After Rowe died they didn't know if they were going to be able to get the conviction. People knew about the gambling trips to Vegas, but not the poker trips. The FBI, asked me how I knew. I said a contractor came to my office one day all dejected that he went to a prebid meeting at the Atlanta Water Plant off Howel Mill and Ricky Rowe, came up to him and said hey what are you doing here, you know you have to be invited to the Friday night Poker games at the mayors house to bid on the projects here. AKA, The mayor won all of the games of poker at his house on Friday night, that is how the Bribes were passed by the contractors always loosing to the mayor in the friendly Friday night Poker games. I gave the FBI the contractor's name who told me this. Within a couple of weeks Bill Campbell had pleaded guilty, and was sentenanced to jail. I have never figured out how Max Bacon was able to avoid the Hatch Act and run and be the Mayor of Smyrna while serving as the Post Master. The majority of the Jobs in Smyrna are not Federal Jobs, therefore their was no reason for an exemption which may be given in the greater DC area.
Rodney Dicks August 23, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Watch it pepperoni face.
another comment August 23, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Its because the Republicans aka former Blue Dog Dems, are Faux Bible Thumpers that want to legislate morality to win the fringes and the Sunday church crowd. I thought that Howard's was where the Smyrna Church Crowd hung out after church. Now they are going to fight over it was the Baptists or the Methodist that ruined it or was it all of those Section 8 Blacks from the torn down Housing projects in Atlanta or the illegals that have invaded Smyrna.
another comment August 23, 2012 at 02:05 AM
This summer they have arrested all of the white kids around town. MIP aka Minor in Possession is their favorite ticket. They target the white kids because their parents will pay to get them out on bail, pay for diversion ( to keep them eligible for hope and other scholarships, and pay the fines). The minorities will let the kids sit in jail, they don't make any money on the fines, the lawyer friends/donors don't make the $1,500-2,500 fees, the labs and treatment docs don't make the money. Smyrna doesn't have the big diversion fee generation, the bail money free usage for several months ( a free interest free loan). So the black kid, will sit in jail, not be eligible for any college financial aid, be sentanced to time served, Smyrna will end up paying $ 50 a day to house them. So just get the white kids, that has been the game this summer, it has been a good revenue generator. Of course, the ones from Whitfield lie about it occuring, the ones from Campbell Facebook and Twitter about it.
226 August 23, 2012 at 11:38 AM
I have a honest question for you Annie. What do you think the appropriate number of officers would that be needed to arrest 23 people?
Jonquil Gardener August 23, 2012 at 10:23 PM
so.....?
Jonquil Gardener August 23, 2012 at 10:23 PM
agree with DJ...
Jonquil Gardener August 23, 2012 at 10:24 PM
and hows this relevant to Smyrna or this thread?
Neal Dow August 23, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Jonq Gard - The Marietta-Cobb-Smyrna Narcotics Unit took a $200K bribe. Eliot Ness they are not. (Note Smyrna in the name of the narcotics unit.)
Neal Dow August 23, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Jonq Gard again - undercover agent in high school. Entrapement. Especially when he went around asking to buy drugs.
Neal Dow August 23, 2012 at 11:14 PM
" their resources are dedicated to those that come in on a complaint status.” What did Martin of Howard's do to have Bacon sic The Marietta-Cobb-Smyrna Narcotics Unit on him.
Inside-Out August 23, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Yes, that's exactly what they did " took a bribe " and then flaunted it and Max Bacon dared the Feds to try and interfere. I guess the Mayor really is in charge of the entire World. What a twisted World we live in some of your minds. How do they do it ?. Did it not cross some of Ya'lls minds that if Max Bacon controlled everything, that Howards would not have been raided. If the Mayor was there gambling every night in the back room as posted by some that he would have been arrested that night ? Oh, that's right, he holds all the power.
Inside-Out August 23, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Entrapment or catching the drug dealers in the school ? Those poor thug children. You better be careful where you buy yours Neal, they may be watching you. They may try and " Entrap " you.
Billy Wyatt August 24, 2012 at 03:08 AM
No one on here knows Max, Bobby or anything that happens in Smyrna. Great laugh reading these comments. Hell, the Obama-Patch.com shared this story from the MDJ. The Howard's raid happened a week before it was even reported here and the editor still has not done due dilligence to find out the details.
226 August 24, 2012 at 06:36 PM
So bribery wasn't illegal until the 90's? Where was this story in the "national news"? Show your work instead of making accusations. Also, the Mayor has absolutely zero involvement or say so in the operations of the Marietta Cobb Smyrna Narcotics unit. p.s. it wasn't the narcotics unit that served this search warrant it was the intelligence unit.
Michelle August 24, 2012 at 07:49 PM
WOW?!?! I wonder if you would have the same disregard and vicious tone if you or someone you cared about needed the protection or use of a police officer after becoming a victim to crime? As for their pay, I feel certain the "undergrad, 28k a year genius/pig" would greatly appreciate our taxes going up and SIGNIFICANTLY. With that increase, then they could be paid a salary fitting for a job that requires them to risk their life everyday. Of course, who would want their taxes raised.....it may cut into their poker money. :)
Not a Fool September 17, 2012 at 06:01 PM
It's all about the money. In the Howard's raid, agents confiscated all the cash in the business. Didn't matter if in games, in registers or in the safe. They took thousands of dollars and plan to keep it. Forget the fines or convictions, these undercover units thrive on confiscated money. This investigation took 4 months of regular visits for an undercover agent to befriend, romance, and coerce bartender into allegedly paying him after refusing to pay many times. Illegal...?? or entrapment...??.
Atlanta Glamdoll November 14, 2012 at 10:58 PM
What adults do with their money is their business, even if it's irresponsible. A victimless, non-violent crime is NOT deserving of a felony charge for cripes sake. I too, know of several business' in and around the Smyrna area where cash is awarded to winners of "gambling games", would I ever report them? Absolutely not. I most certainly wouldn't complain about a group of friends betting on a poker game in their basement either. Putting 4 months of investigation into something so trivial as small cash payouts to customers who've won a game is ridiculous and defies logic, what a pitiful waste of man-power and taxpayer money. SPD - get out on the streets and do some real police work for a change!

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