Friday, January 28, 2005

Florence County gamblers busted

Published Thursday, January 27, 2005 11:16:28 AM Central Time
Globe News Editor
FLORENCE, Wis. -- Two Florence County residents face felony counts in February court dates after gambling raids by state agents were conducted on their businesses last August.
Ronald Florian, who operates the White Tail tavern on Wisconsin 139 in the Town of Tipler, is charged with four counts of illegally setting up gambling machines. Seventeen 17 gaming machines were removed from his business, according to the state Department of Justice.
Armed with a search warrant, the DOJ conducted a raid on the business, cooperating in an investigation with the Department of Revenue.
A total of 13 video gaming machines were also seized from Sach's Rendezvous, also on Wisconsin 139 in Florence County. Illegal lotteries, 15 football pools and 319,000 illegal pull tabs were also seized, according to the DOJ.
The owner of Sach's, Richard Arnell, is charged with nine counts of commercial gambling.
Florian and Arnell both face preliminary hearings on the charges on Feb. 22 before Florence County Judge Robert Kennedy Jr.
Florian is free on $5,000 bond, while Arnell was released on $10,000 signature bond.
The DOJ noted the felony counts each carry a penalty of from six months to three years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Florence County District Attorney Douglas Drexler issued the charges, which are similar to those filed in Iron County Court last week against Abba's Brite Spot and Bert's Laundromat, two Hurley businesses. The Hurley charges were issued following a lengthy investigation spearheaded by Cliff Korn of the Department of Revenue's Hayward office.
The operation of video gaming machines in the state is governed by both the DOJ and the Department of Revenue. If an establishment has five machines or fewer, the Department of Revenue is responsible for enforcement. The Department of Revenue has not been cracking down on taverns with fewer than six machines, however.
Six or more machines in an establishment constitutes felony charges, and the Justice Department handles the enforcement.
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