Former owners of East Texas Poker Room reach out to Rep. Schaefer for help

East Texas News at 6.
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 5:58 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2022 at 7:29 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The former owners of Top Shelf Poker Room in Flint reached out to Representative Matt Schaefer for help after their poker room was shut down back in March for what authorities called illegal gambling.

“They came to me and they told me their story and I told them about the bill I was working on,” Schaefer said.

The bill is not in relation to the raid at the Top Shelf Poker Room in Flint. He said he has been working on an asset forfeiture reform bill for more than eight years.

“The bill that I passed through the House last session, but died in the Senate, would have raised the burden of proof to clear and convincing evidence.”

Rep. Schaefer plans to file the asset forfeiture reform bill in January.

“The goal is to raise the burden of proof on the state so that there is no doubt really that this was an appropriate action.”

The Smith County DA explained what civil asset forfeiture is for.

“Civil asset forfeiture allows the state to take assets that are either used for criminal activity or the profits of criminal activity,” Smith County Criminal District Attorney Jacob Putman said.

One example of civil asset forfeiture is seizing drug money.

“When drug dealers make a lot of money, the state is allowed to take that money because it’s the profit from illegal activity,” Putman said.

Putman said asset forfeitures are the most powerful tool to fight organized crime. “We’ve seen game rooms open up across the county over the years, and what they care about is profit. If they can’t make a profit, then they’ll stop committing their crimes, so it’s important that we have asset forfeiture to stop organized crime.”

Rep. Schaefer said the bill would not remove asset forfeitures, but enhance the proof needed to seize assets.

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