Crime & Courts

Feds crack down on $4 million video poker ring in Gaston

Federal prosecutors have cracked down on a Gaston County video poker ring that investigators say regularly cleared $10,000 a day.

Court documents released Friday say Clarence Larry Calhoun faces illegal gambling and money-laundering charges in connection with the operation of “Mr. Lenny’s Place” from 2012 to 2014.

In all, Calhoun faces up to 25 years in prison and potentially millions of dollars in fines.

In his filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Zolot of Charlotte alleges that the gambling house earned and concealed more than $4 million during the two-year period.

Calhoun, Zolot wrote, hid his half of the profits in PVC pipes, which he stashed on property he owns in both Carolinas. An unidentified partner took his share to South Carolina, where associates stored it for him, documents indicate.

Charges are included in a “bill of information,” which indicates that the case will not go before a grand jury and Calhoun likely has agreed to plead guilty. He is expected to appear in court next week.

According to the documents, Calhoun and his partner opened their video poker den in 2012, then moved it last February into a large warehouse “on a major thoroughfare” in Gaston County.

There, the machines ran nonstop. Calhoun and his partner employed a staff of eight and ran more than 60 machines that directly took cash at one point.

According to documents, guards at Mr. Lenny’s met customers at the door. While they waited for a machine to become available, clients were feted with food, drink and TVs. Once they were taken to a machine, they could play as long as they wanted.

Under the terms of the agreement, Calhoun will be required to forfeit “all property involved in the violations,” including U.S. currency in excess of $4 million, or property of equal value.

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