LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - After an illegal gambling investigation by the Lufkin Police Department that has been going on for more than a year, the Precinct 1 constable's office arrested a 38-year-old Conroe man on an engaging in organized criminal activity charge Thursday.
Back in November, the Lufkin Police Department seized 10 gambling machines and a total of $14,707 in cash from two businesses operated by a Conroe company.
Dapinder Sood, the director of the Conroe company, was booked in to the Angelina County Jail on a state-jail engaging in organized criminal activity charge. He was released later Thursday after he posted an unspecified bail amount.
According to the arrest affidavit, the LPD's Special Services Division opened an investigation in March of 2016 after the department received information that illegal gambling machines were being operated at Kwik Check Store at 2215 E. Denman Ave. and 7 Stars Store at 811 Kurth Drive.
Investigators were told by a confidential informant that Kwik Check Store contained gambling machines which were compared to "Vegas-style slot machines" that paid out cash rewards, the affidavit stated. The information showed that the same types of machines were being operated at the 7 Stars Store.
Further investigation revealed that both businesses were operated by Mai Sood Enterprises Inc./ Mahi Ventures Inc. out of Conroe. Sood was listed as the director of both corporations, the affidavit stated.
On March 29, 2016, investigators with the Special Services Division sent a confidential informant into Kwik Check store with $40 in cash. After the informant bought a drink to break a $20 bill, he or she started playing one of the games and eventually hit three sevens in a row and won $25, the affidavit stated.
The informant hit the cash out button and went to the store clerk. The clerk talked to her boss and then paid the informant's winnings in cash from one of the store's registers, the affidavit stated.
A confidential informant was also sent to the 7 Stars Store to play the machines there. He or she was able to win and was paid out in cash, the affidavit stated.
The Special Services Division obtained warrants to search both locations on November 14, 2016. Investigators and LPD officers then went to the 7 Stars Store and spoke to the manager there. The store was shut down while the police gathered evidence and took photos. Two gambling machines were located in the main area, and another three were located behind a closed door leading to the backs of the refrigerated coolers, the affidavit stated.
The illegal gambling machines were removed and placed on a trailer, the affidavit stated. One of the investigators located receipt in one of the registers that appeared to be a payout for winnings from one of the machines, the affidavit stated.
Later, the Special Services investigators went to Kwik Check store to serve that search warrant. An LPD sergeant who arrived at the scene first said that when he arrived, the store's manager pulled up in a vehicle, talked to the clerk, and then started moving items off of the tops of the gambling machines. The manager then drove off, the affidavit stated.
The Lufkin Police Department found another five illegal gambling machines at the Kwik Check Store location, the affidavit stated. A manager at the 7 Stars Store was brought in to open the safe at the Denman Avenue store. After the man's attorney spoke to police, he agreed to open the safe, the affidavit stated.
On the next day, an employee at the City Garage cut the locks off of the gambling machines for the Special Services Division investigators. In all, the investigators seized $745 in cash from the machines at 7 Stars Star and another $1,808 in cash from the safe at that location, the affidavit stated. At total of $10,890 was found in the illegal gambling machines at the Kwik Check Store location, and another $1,264 was found in the location's safe, the affidavit stated.
The affidavit stated that the investigator who obtained it was going to file seizure paperwork for the illegal gambling machines and currency that was collected from both stores.