Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pea Shake Bust

Indianapolis metropolitan police raided a pea shake house this afternoon at 38th and Capital Street which was masquerading as a car wash. Both WTHR and WRTV led off with the raid on tonight's broadcasts. This comes one day after a poker club on the northeastside was raided. This is the same pea shake house City-County Council President Monroe Gray (D) was spotted visiting in his IFD-issued car a few years back. WRTV's Cheryl Jackson reports:

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.

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.
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:

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."


Wilson46201 said...

The Republicans have held the local Prosecutor's Office for centuries it seems except for the Modisett Interregnum (1990-94). Karl Rove et al have been appointing Federal Prosecutors since the 2000 election.

This is 2007 - where have all those Republican Prosecutors been ducking on this gambling issue? In this post-9/11 world, is this the best use of law enforcement resources?

Anonymous said...

Now we're just waiting to find out where the "car wash" was funneling it's money and who the account holder is.

IMPD and Indystar know all too well that the public is aware that the peashakes go much deeper than a simple bust. We're waiting for the results of the investigation. And we're waiting for the rest of the peashakes to go down too. ASAP.

There's much more to this story that's not yet been told and we won't sit patiently while the peashake profiteers sit comfortably while the "on site" operators take the fall on their own.

Until the launderers, the sold-out politicians, and the sold-out cops are all implicated, simply closing down the peashakes will mean nothing more than protecting the guilty before the fire gets too hot.

Gary R. Welsh said...

If a federal investigation existed as Abdul reported last month, the last thing the feds would want is for local law enforcement to be mucking things up. You know local law enforcement will go no further than the guys they took into custody today. I suspected Abdul was being used to tip folks off about what was going on then. This seems to confirm it.

Anonymous said...

This is just a city government public relations stunt.

If they were serious about illegal organized gambling they would be hitting 12-36 pea houses, card games, cherry masters at a time. They would be identifying and arresting the ring leaders and following the money to dirty politicians, business people, and unfortunately bad cops.

Anonymous said...

Abdul is behind IndyUndercover. It's time for someone to blow his cover.

Anonymous said...

Anon 639 - you are crazy.

Shorebreak, I've said it before I'll say it again, grasshopper has much to learn from you. I'm listening.

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon 6:39, I asked Abdul directly if he was behind it and he said he wasn't. I more than suspect he knows the person(s) who do write it.

Anonymous said...

Abdul was by no means being used to tip off the locals. There was no need to. The information Abdul posted about the DOJ investigating the numbers racket in Indy was correct. The "leak" as some call it, was only intended to get the Governor and others in on getting this corruption in Indy cleaned up since the Mayor has chosen to not due so. Abdul's info was dead on and has now placed the ball out of Bart's court and into Mitch's.
It's politics now and Mitch is holding one helluva hand.
BTW, Abdul only wrote about half of what information he was provided with about the DOJ investigation. Ask him.

Anonymous said...

the 7:24 post makes absolutly no sense. The governor has no authority in these matters, except: to apppoint a prosecutor or judge if a vacancy occurs, and to appoint the head of the state police, should they get involved.

Isn't int interesting, the IndyU folks are saying the poker house may not be illegal? In what universe is that?

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon said, "The "leak" as some call it, was only intended to get the Governor and others in on getting this corruption in Indy cleaned up since the Mayor has chosen to not due so."

By the governor, you can only be referring to the Indiana State Police, which doesn't exactly have any established track record for combatting organized crime. If what Abdul alleged is involved with these pea shake houses, then only the feds could adequately investigate and prosecute this type of case. Remember, our local prosecutor is already gone on record saying he thought it was silly to go after the pea shake houses. Is he now going to be able to credibly prosecute these folks the local police are rounding up and arresting in these raids? If the raids were done effectively, every single pea shake would have been hit on the same day at the same time. Today's well-publicized raid only alerts other operators to go under ground until things cool off. I think it is very telling that no other reporter in this town reported on this so-called federal investigation.

Anonymous said...

""The "leak" as some call it, was only intended to get the Governor and others in on getting this corruption in Indy cleaned up since the Mayor has chosen to not due so.""

Prominent city government
officials including some appointed by the Mayor and the CCC play at Moe's weekly.

Anonymous said...

Who tipped off Monroe Gray to this bust? He is usually there while on the clock in a city car!

Didn't AI request Gray's time cards? Have they been provided, so his ghost employment can be proven?

Anonymous said...

Excellent question, 9:13.

Monroe's timecards should be provided. Works of fiction, I'm betting.

I've seen his car at 38th/Capitol more than once. Mingling with the constituents, probably. Uh-huh. (Why does he even have a city car?)
(What exactly are his duties on the city sugar teat?)

AI's point about multiple busts on the same day is excellent.

When might we expect that to happen?

And, is anyone paying attention: unregistered guns, four or five of them, pulled from the car wash.

Real bright. And safe for kids walking two blocks away from Riley Elem. School, one of IPS's crown jewels, brand-new.

Anonymous said...

The Governor has far greater influence in dealing with the feds than local law enforcement.
During Governor Henry Schricker's "white hat" administration it was the Governor who finally had to clean the rest of the illegal gambling out of French Lick in Orange County.This occured in 1949 and he used the Indiana State Police assisted by the Feds to do it.
Carl Brizzi is a non-issue. He's not the first prosecutor in Marion to play ball with the Indy numbers racket. He may very well be the last though.
Why has the Indianapolis Star not picked up on the DOJ story? Maybe you had best ask the editor that question. During Lugar's first term as Mayor the Star sat on an undercover investigation of police corruption, gambling, prostitution and drugs for over a year and half before they HAD to report it. It goes without saying that Lugar was just as much a darling of the Star then as Peterson is today.
Don't dismiss what Abdul reported or assume that the ONLY newspaper now left in town doesn't know what's going on. What appears to not make sense now will all come together in the months ahead.

Anonymous said...

A brief comment regarding influence by Mitch:

The governor may not have the legal "chain of command" authority to act directly, but it would be naive to think he doesn't have more than a few aces up his sleeve with regards to influencing local politicians. Ultimately, the increased public awareness of the peashakes and their continued unfettered operations is an embarrassment to the state of Indiana.

Yesterdays bust was likely meant only to send a message to the public - time will tell - but if I had to place my bets I'd say that the peashake operation leadership is off balance right now. They know that increased public pressure is forcing action and they're probably working overtime to grease the skids, find alternative laundering means, and to set up dummy accounts that will be presented as "findings from an investigation" while the real money remains secure.

That's what I'd be doing right now. In fact, I would have set up the false accounts from day one, leaving that as cannon fodder while my primary profits remain safe and secure.

These are the reasons that the public needs to continue to mount pressure against government corruption. These are business people with influence and with experience, who know the loopholes and they know how to work the media. A headline that says "Case Solved" means nothing when the perpetrators continue to have influence over the police force.

So it's quite possible that Mitch took action. He has enough political weight to call shots in Indy when corrupt officials are running scared. But unless that action is followed up very closely, the public will perceive that the operation has been dismantled while the people responsible remain in the shadows and outside of the public eye.

It's not rocket science. When you consider the pull these people have had for many years, it would be foolish to think that a major crackdown on Peashakes will expose them. Unless the public and the media has the will to continue applying pressure and let the city, the county, and the state know that we aren't blind to what is really happening and that local powerbrokers share in the responsibility for these crimes.

Mitch? Are you listening?

Anonymous said...

I drove by the Central Ave. pea-shake late yesterday. Running full-tilt at about 9:30 p.m.

Full-tilt means: no parking available anywhere. Approx. 8-12 persons loitering outside. Three empty liquor bnottles in the front yard clearly vicible from the street.

If you want a real scare, slow down, and act like you're trying to park. You'll get "greeted" immediately.

Anonymous said...

Shoreline and 8:47,
When criminals get nervous they get nervous, paranoid, irrational and worst of all, trigger happy.
If history is any judge then a serious incident is just waiting to happen at one or more of these "shake houses". There's just too much money at stake for someone not to walk into a hail of gunfire real soon.
Just suppose a concerned citizen or group of citizens approach one of these shake houses with the intent of protesting the gambling be shut down, heated exchange of words takes place and gunfire erupts killing many. This is how high the stakes are and this is what it will come to if these operations are not shut down for good.

Anonymous said...

Shake house at Sherman and Mass was open and operating as usual yesterday. Lot filled with cars and about 15 people milling around outside. I spotted two guards with pump shotguns just inside the gate.
This shake house is in Brightwood. I thought the Mayor was kicking in TIF money for revitalization of the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood. Nice job Mayor for provided TIF for a numbers operation!

Anonymous said...

Indy Star is reporting two more pea house busts Friday morning!

Clearly they need more police manpower to get to all these illegal gambling spots before they shut down and lay low.