Auburn Police confiscated five gambling machines and seized over $15,000 in cash after an undercover operation revealed evidence of illegal gambling activities at three Auburn convenience stores.
Four people, including one of the store owners, were charged with commercial gambling and keeping a place of gambling as a result of the investigation.
Auburn police, acting on tips from concerned citizens, conducted an undercover operation at the Auburn Shell Station, the Mystik gas station and the Auburn Express, all located on Hwy. 8.
During the investigation, police gathered evidence showing that customers were receiving cash payouts for their winnings on electronic gambling machines. State law requires that any winnings from these type devices be awarded in the form of merchandise or store credit.
Police obtained search warrants for the three businesses which were served on May 12.
The owner of the Shell and Mystik stations, Anilkumar Madhu Patel, 52, of 2310 Legare Court in Lawrenceville, was arrested along with Mystik store clerk Shanda Michelle Herbermann, 25, of 320 Kilcrease Road in Auburn and Shell clerk Yogendra Thakorbhai Amin, 54, Of 952 Sugar Meadow Lane in Sugar Hill. Auburn Express clerk Altaf Harini, 34, of 9105 Magnolia Point Boulevard in Duluth was also arrested. Harini’s immigration status is also under investigation.
Customers gambling on machines such as these reportedly received cash payouts for winnings instead of the store credit or merchandise allowed by state law.
According to Auburn Police Chief Fred Brown, the arrests were the culmination of an extended investigation.
“We’ve known this has been going on for quite some time,” Brown said. “But we were never able to have someone make a deal undercover.”
Brown said it is important that people realize that electronic gambling machines such as the ones seized last week are not legally allowed to pay cash prizes.
“For future reference, these machines are for entertainment purposes only,” he said.
Since the operation, Brown said several citizens have approached him and his officers and thanked them for shutting down the gambling operation.
“We’ve received some very positive comments from citizens,” he said.
It has not yet been determined if the owner of the Auburn Express will face charges.