County seeks sale of gaming machines

Seizure money use explained for court

Approval to advertise for bids for the sale of gaming machines used in an illegal manner seized by local law enforcement officials was the only action item at the regular meeting of the Shelby County Commissioners’ Court Wednesday, Dec. 8. In the absence of County Judge Allison Harbison, Commissioner Pct. 1, Roscoe McSwain presided over the meeting.

“As you probably know, there was a gambling raid … by Constable Cheatwood and Constable Tipton,” County Attorney Gary Rholes reported. During the raid, $19,000 and 16 gaming machines were seized.

Rholes stated that because of a settlement between the county and the defendant, some of the money was refunded to the owner of the machines.

“We got 19,000, but in our settlement, we agreed to refund $4,000 to the people at the store, so net was about $16,000. And we spent about $12,000 of that,” he said.

The money already expended was reportedly used for the purchase of equipment for use by the county’s constables. “Constable Cheatwood (purchased) a drone for use in searching and we’ve gotten a night scope for the constables and one that we're letting the Department of Public Safety use,” Rholes commented.

“So, we want to put them (the gaming machines) out for bids and as you can see from the item on the agenda anyone bidding will be required to sign a notarized statement that these will not be used in an illegal manner,” he continued. “I'm not sure what they’re worth. It varies widely depending on what type they are. We did some of these a good while ago and I think the good ones were worth like $3,000.”

“I think it’s worth noting that these machines can be used legally and are used legally in Texas and Louisiana where they get coupons in the stores and not cash payments,” McSwain pointed out.

The machines will be advertised for two weeks with sealed bids due Jan. 3, 2022 and opened on Jan. 5. All bids will be sent to Judge Harbison’s office. The machines will be available for inspection by anyone interested in placing a bid on them, according to Rholes.

“I talked to the sheriff and if anybody’s interested in looking at the machines the sheriff informed me that they could contact him or Chief Gonzalez.” he said.

Tom Bellmyer, Commissioner Pct. 4, sought clarification on how the selling of the machines would benefit the county and as to why some funds had already been spent without having been approved by the commissioners’ court.

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