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Man charged in video poker raid

Seldom-seen machines found at laundromat

POSTED: May 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A laundromat owner was charged with paying out cash for electronic gambling machine winnings Friday, the first such arrest in several years since a major statewide crackdown on video poker, authorities said.

Waley Ming Wei Lee, 46, owner of the Tres Amigo Lavaderia, was charged with commercial gambling and pirating compact discs, Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad commander Scott Ware said.

Ware said undercover officers began investigating the laundromat in mid-April after receiving a complaint. Wei made three cash payouts to undercover officers playing the slot and roulette-style video game machines, the most recent payout coming Thursday, Ware said.

Wei paid the undercover officers $45, $40 and $25 in exchange for winning tickets, Ware said.

Officers raided the laundromat about 10 a.m. Friday and found some 400 pirated compact discs and 29 pirated DVD movies for sale, Ware said. Most were Spanish-language and were spotted as obvious counterfeits because of the condition of the packaging and obscured copyright bar codes, Ware said.

Ware confirmed that music and movie pirating is not a charge his vice squad has made often, if ever.

Officers removed the circuit boards of the electronic gambling machines, rendering them useless, and left the machines at the laundromat, Ware said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation led numerous video poker raids earlier this decade, and in 2003, Hall County Sheriff’s officials arrested 22 people and seized 50 video gambling machines at seven Hall County convenience stores. Since then, the machines have been seldom-seen, authorities said.

"These were the first video gambling machines we’ve dealt with in several years," Ware said.



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