State excise and Anderson police on Monday conducted raids at several taverns in Delaware and Madison counties as part of an investigation that led to the arrest of rural Daleville resident John L. Neal on gambling-related charges.
Alcoholic beverage permits were seized from the taverns, and the holders of those permits will be required to appear before an Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission hearing judge to show cause why the permits should not be permanently revoked.
WTHR-TV reported tonight that Neal had been jailed by the feds on similar charges a few years ago, but that he continued to operate his illegal gambling operations while he was behind bars and after he was released from prison. WTHR-TV also reported that Madison Co. Prosecutor Rodney Cummings retained the services of Greg Garrison to aid the government in the legal procedures for seizing the more than 20 bars he owned or controlled as part of today's arrest. Cummings also told WTHR-TV that Neal had used his power and influence to corrupt local government officials charged with overseeing his businesses. Muncie Coin and Video Services, both owned by Neal, were also sezied today in addition to the more than 20 bars he owned or controlled.
A Louisville Courier-Journal story by Grace Schneider on illegal video gambling from December 12, 2004 details Neal's earlier bust by the feds:
The U.S. attorney for Indiana's Southern District alleged, in an indictment returned in February 1999, that former Teamsters union official John Neal of Yorktown had placed 230 illegal video gambling devices in 65 taverns, restaurants and bingo halls in the Muncie-Anderson area between 1990 and 1995.Looks like Neal could be spending more than 42 months in jail this time. It will be interesting to see if prosecutors make any attempt to get Neal to give up any of the local officials he's bribed over the years to run his illegal gambling operation as part of any potential plea agreement.
A Muncie bar owner quoted Neal as saying that he made $3 million to $4 million a year from his overall gambling enterprise, according to U.S. District Court records.
FBI agents raided Neal's home in 1996 and found $970,176 in cash in two safes. Neal pleaded guilty in May 2000 to operating an illegal gambling business and conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. He served 42 months in federal prison.
Neal, 67, was released from a halfway house last April. Phone messages left at his Yorktown residence were not returned.
The Star has added an online story, which reports that Cummings "estimated that 40 people besides Neal would be arrested, but he added that not every person who operated Neal's bars would be arrested." The report observes that "investigators were careful not to make overt inquiries at local government offices because 'it is well known that John Lewis Neal knows a lot of people in key places.'" The story notes that Delaware County officials were kept out of the investigation. Gee, I wonder why?