Officers Thursday arrested four people and gave court summons to 17 during a raid on a car-wash establishment that police said was a front for illegal "pea shake" gambling games, 6News' Cheryl Jackson reported.The fallout from the poker club raid yesterday is growing. An internal affairs investigation is underway to determine if city police officers were regular patrons of the northeastside pokerclub. IndyUndercover, a blog with close ties to law enforcement, warned fellow officers:
Police said they entered the building, 148 W. 38th St., at about 12:45 p.m. following an investigation prompted by neighbors' complaints. Officers seized gambling paraphernalia, five handguns and more than $1,800 in cash, police said.
Officers issued court summons to 17 people inside, accusing them of illegal gambling and visiting a common nuisance, according to police.
Police arrested Marvin Colbert, 53, Michael Smith, 59, and Michael Smith Jr., 38, all of whom authorities accused of operating the establishment. All three were arrested on preliminary charges of promoting gambling. Colbert also was held on preliminary charges of maintaining a common nuisance and unlawful gambling, and the younger Smith also is accused of unlawful possession of a handgun, police said.
Deangelo Dupree, 46, was arrested on a preliminary charge of having a handgun without a license, police said.
Painting on a window of the building indicated it housed a car-wash business. Police said the car wash was a cover for illegal gambling.
LEOs, Internal Affairs is investigating whether any officers played or worked at the Indianapolis Pinnacle Club. If you did, make sure you have an attorney before you answer any questions and talk to your FOP Representative. Although there's some question if the poker club was actually illegal, we still need to remain above reproach in the eyes of the public, otherwise we're no better than the people we criticize.Looks like someone's trying to beat the feds to the punch. Perhaps higher-ups will be protected if local law enforcement step in before the feds get their crack at the illegal gambling operations.
UPDATE: The Star's John Strauss points out that both City-County Council President Monroe Gray and Center Township Trustee Tony Duncan were spotted at this pea shake house in 2004. Strauss writes:
Police have investigated reports of gambling at the business several times in recent years.
A 2004 police report (see story below) said that officers found City-County Council member Monroe Gray Jr. and Center Township Constable Mark Anthony "Tony" Duncan sitting in a city-owned car in the business's parking lot.
The original story is also posted on the Star's website. It reads:
Duncan and Gray both denied any involvement in the alleged gambling operation. When told the police report said a card game with money at stake was going on inside the car wash while he was parked outside, Gray said: "That's not true, but I don't know about it. I don't know anything about it. I never went inside the building."
The report also said that Gray, a division chief for the Indianapolis Fire Department, was at the car wash while on duty. But Gray countered that he is "on duty 24 hours a day" and that, as a community liaison, his job is to be out in the Fire Department's service area. "I can be anywhere I want to be at any time, because it's part of my job," he said. Gray was not disciplined in the incident, said Capt. Gregg Harris, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Fire Department.
The department did not know about the incident until questioned by The Star, Harris said. Gray said this week that he doesn't gamble and had never been to the car wash prior to Dec. 23. But Smith, the car wash's owner, said Gray and Duncan come by the business often to get their city cars washed. He said sometimes the two wait inside the business's building. Smith said people gather at his business after work to play cards, drink and talk. "Old people don't have nothing to do but leave home to come up here and sit," Smith said. "If it was gambling, why didn't he (Black) make arrests?" Smith acknowledged that he has been arrested several times for gambling violations "all over town."
According to Marion County court records, he was arrested five times between 1991 and 1999 on gambling-related charges. Three of those arrests resulted in no punishment. But he received a pair of six-month sentences on April 8, 1992, and Sept. 30, 1993, on gambling-related offenses. The 1992 conviction was for promoting professional gambling, a Class D felony.
Duncan said that on the day of the investigation, he and Gray were sitting in his car, talking about a piece of city legislation. Constables are elected officials who deliver court documents and perform other court-related duties.
Duncan said he frequently gets his city car washed at the business, but when asked if he's ever gambled there, Duncan said: "Oh come on, you couldn't expect me to say anything like that. I find it ironic I am being questioned about sitting in a car."