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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.

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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