City Businesses With Gambling Machines Now Subject to Prosecution

May 12, 2008
Dwayne Page

Businesses who have illegal gambling machines have now been warned and are now subject to being investigated by the Smithville Police Department

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings recently issued a news release stating that the department would begin enforcing the law regarding gambling machines as of Friday, May 9th.

Chief Jennings, in the news release, said "I have received several complaints from citizens in our community about illegal gambling devices in certain business establishments within the city limits of Smithville."

"I contacted the District Attorney General's Office and asked for a clarification of state law on possession of illegal gambling devices and their recommendation on the enforcement of the law. The Attorney General's office recommended giving ten days notice of the police department's intention to enforce the law regarding Possession of gambling devices. I have decided to follow their recommendation."

Under state law, "A person commits an offense who knowingly owns, manufactures, possesses, buys, sells, rents, leases, stores, repairs, transports, prints, or makes any gambling device or record."

"Any gambling device or record is contraband and shall be subject to seizure, confiscation, and forfeiture in accordance with the forfeiture provisions, codified in state law.

"Possession of a gambling device or record is a Class B misdemeanor".

Chief Jennings said Friday that he would start an investigation and if any illegal gambling devices are found, he will build a case and act on it. " What you have to do is have someone go in and play them (machines) and get paid off and then testify in court. It's hard to get somebody to do that. It's probably what we'll be looking at somewhere down the road. If they are here, the next step in the process is to make sure they're paying off and being able to prove it."

Chief Jennings added that " I want to have proof they're actually used as a gambling device before I pick them up."

Meanwhile, Smithville Police have made several recent arrests on various charges.

Chief Jennings says 30 year old Jason R. Skaroupka of Green Acre Drive is charged with simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance. His bond is $1,000 and his court date is May 22nd.

Officer Bradley C. Tatrow, in his report, states that On May 5th at 6:03 p.m., I responded to Wade Street to Officer Jody Johnson who was attempting to stop a vehicle because of a warrant in Rutherford County. Upon arrival, I made contact with the driver, Ashley Allen. I asked Ms. Allen if she would consent to a search of her vehicle and she replied ‘no'. Upon deploying K-9 Astro, he indicated on the back right passenger door. A small baggie of a green leafy substance, believed to be marijuana, was found under the front passenger seat very near the back floor board. Skaroupka was occupying that seat and was seen by Officer Johnson stuffing the small baggie under the seat. He did admit that the baggie belonged to him and he was placed under arrest.

47 year old David R. Petty of Smith Road was charged Monday, May 5th with theft of property under $500. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on the charge May 22nd.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew, in his report, states that on May 5th at Save-A-Lot on South Congress Boulevard, Petty allegedly took a purse belonging to Melissa Murphy and ran across the parking lot to McDonald's. Petty was chased down by the victim, store employees, and spectators and detained by them until police arrived. The purse and contents were valued at under $500.

19 year old Steven Cuevas of Highland Avenue was charged Monday, May 5th with vandalism over $1,000 and domestic assault. His bond is $7,500 and his court date is May 15th.

According to Officer Matt Holmes, Cuevas was arrested after police responded to a fight call at Evins Manor Apartments, 848 Foster Avenue. "Upon arrival, I saw a large group of people gathered in the parking lot. I spoke to a woman who advised me that her boyfriend and father of her child, Cuevas, had assaulted her and damaged her vehicle. She had large markings on her throat. She advised us that Mr. Cuevas had choked her. Cuevas admitted to choking the woman and vandalizing her vehicle. He advised me that he did so because she kicked his vehicle. Myself, Officer Leffew, and Deputy Mike Billings found no evidence of any damage done to Mr. Cuevas' vehicle. The victim's mother advised me that she witnessed the entire thing and that Mr. Cuevas choked her daughter and then jumped up on top of her vehicle on the trunk, roof, and hood, jumping up and down, caving it in."

Four teenagers, including a juvenile, were recently charged by Smithville Police with drug offenses after they were found in a vehicle near the high school.

19 year old Joshua Ryan Crabtree of 229 Toad Road, Dowelltown and 18 year old Scotty Dale Colwell of 646 Kendra Drive are charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana). Bond for each is $2,500 and their court date is May 29th.

19 year old Brian Allen Cunningham of 449 LaFever Street is charged with simple possession of marijuana. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is May 29th.

A 17 year old female is also charged in the case.

Officer Randy King states in his report that "On April 29th, I responded to 254 Tiger Drive near DeKalb County High School to a suspicious vehicle where underage children were smoking. Upon arrival, I walked to the driver's side of the vehicle and spoke to the driver, Joshua Crabtree. As I was speaking to him, I noticed a smell of what I believed to be marijuana coming from the vehicle. I asked Mr. Crabtree to step out of the vehicle. I asked Mr. Crabtree if there were any drugs or weapons on his person or vehicle. Mr Crabtree advised me that he had a small bag containing a pipe and a small amount of marijuana in it. These were found in his jacket pocket. Scotty Colwell was seated in the right rear of the vehicle. After Mr. Crabtree was arrested, I searched the vehicle, incident to arrest, and found two marijuana cigarettes, a pipe, and a red pill crusher under the ashtray where he was sitting. Also during the search, officers found a small amount of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana in the floorboard directly in front of where Cunningham was seated. Drug paraphernalia and marijuana were also found in the immediate location of where the juvenile was seated."

34 year old Alfonzo Wilbur Lester of 625 Highland Street was charged on April 29th with disorderly conduct. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on the charge May 29th.

53 year old Larry Dale Lepley of Old Sparta Highway was charged on May 1st with a first offense of driving under the influence and a first offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court May 29th

Officer Bradley Tatrow states that he stopped a vehicle on East Broad Street. Upon speaking with the driver, Lepley, Officer Tatrow noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His speech was slurred and his motor skills were slow. When asked to perform field sobriety tasks, Lepley stumbled sideways when he exited the vehicle. He performed poorly on all tasks. He did submit to a Breathalyzer test and the result was .12. A computer check revealed that his license was suspended for failure to pay child support.

21 year old Joshua Denton Bowers of West Main Street was charged May 1st with vandalism. His bond is $2,500 and his court date is June 5th.

Officer Bradley Tatrow states in his report that Bowers vandalized two trucks that were parked in the parking lot of Fred's in Smithville. He slashed all four tires to both vehicles and also took a small dumb bell weight and damaged the body of one truck and also keyed it. Mr. Bowers admitted to vandalizing the vehicles. The estimated value of the tires is $2,200 and the truck damage is $1,500.

21 year old Alfonzo Soto of South Third Street, Smithville was charged with domestic assault on May 2nd. His bond is $2,500. He allegedly came to the work place of his girlfriend to bring her lunch and got mad at her while there. Soto allegedly assaulted her by grabbing her by the neck and choking her. He threatened to kill her if the law was called.

35 year old Sandy D. Wheeler of Chattanooga was charged May 5th with leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, a second offense of driving under the influence, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is $5,500 and her court date is May 22nd.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew states in his report that Wheeler was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 that was involved in an accident in front of the Smithville Electric Office. She was later caught after leaving the scene about three miles away on Highway 70. She was very unsteady on her feet, had slurred speech, and had problems staying awake. She performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and refused to submit to a blood test. Upon a search incident to arrest, officers found two used hypodermic needles in the console of the vehicle with a liquid residue in them.

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