48 People Cited in a Chattanooga, Tennessee VFW Illegal Gambling Raid
Forty-eight people were cited in a raid on a VFW outpost in Chattanooga. When the police arrived, they found 48 people whom they suspected of gambling. Everyone suspected of illegal activity was ticketed for a misdemeanor.
Investigators spoke with WTVC NewsChannel 9, but remained anonymous in order to protect an ongoing investigation. The VFW itself is not in any trouble. The only connection between the local Veterans of Foreign Wars lodge and the illegal gaming is the fact they rented out their space twice a week to the gaming operators.
Unknown If VFW Landlords Knew
The investigator was asked by the local newscasters whether the VFW knew it was renting itself out to illegal operators. He added, “I don’t know how much the person with the VFW knews and, right now, all I do know is that they didn’t know anything other than they were renting out this event hall.”
That is the state of the investigation at the moment. The official told reporters that the investigation is ongoing and new details could emerge.
No pictures or descriptions of the VFW event hall was given. Most VFW’s have an event hall for live bands, dancing, or bingo nights. This is often walled off from the offices or bar area, so it would be conceivable that the owners of the VFW building might not know what is taking place behind the closed doors of the event hall.
Details of the Raid
During the raid, the Chattanooga Police Department collected nearly $10,000 in cash. Poker chips and cards were also collected as evidence. The police saw at least 48 people gambling, and they say that these people are responsible for appearing at their coming court dates. Minor criminal violations can become serious when court appearances are skipped or ignored.
Illegal Gambling Brings in Bad Element
The anonymous investigator with the police department said, “Sometimes, games like this will attract a bad element. Sometimes, games will be robbed…stuff like that.”
The investigation has been a year in the making, and is part of a wider story involving raids on area VFW facilities. The official said, “There’s other VFW’s in the city and they’ve had complaints on them, and there’s other venues around town that we’ve executed search warrants in the past.”
Details on the Gamblers
Twenty-seven men and three women were given citations for gambling. Eighteen other men were given citations for both gambling and “possession of a gambling device”. Those given citations were between the ages of 29 and 71. For more detailed information on the players, you can see the original NewsChannel 9 report.
No one was arrested. When asked why no arrests were made, the investigator said the gamblers were cooperative and all agreed to show up for their court-appointed date. None of the gamblers are thought to have any connection with the VFW itself. When NewsChannel 9 sent a reporter to get a statement from the VFW on Riverside Drive, they told the reporter that no one would be able to answer questions at that time.
Why Give Citations to Gamblers
Law enforcement officials are responsible for maintaining law and order, but they also have the responsibility to protect the people. As the investigator said, unregulated gambling takes place in the shadows, which sometimes draws a bad element. When people engage in illegal activity of any kind, they tend to lose the normal protections of society. Such people are less likely to go to the police when robbed or cheated, so they have less protection than they should.
Officials sometimes feel the need to justify their responsibilities. No doubt, local law enforcement sometimes raids illegal operations and businesses when it is an election year, to show the incumbents mean business about law and order, or to help the sheriff win an election. But if those same law enforcement personnel looks the other way to activities that seem less serious, they leave themselves open to charges of corruption or even bribery. It’s best for citizens not to engage in illegal activities, even if they find it harmless, while it’s best for their officials to stop crimes when they learn about them.
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