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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Friday - February 18, 2005


RALEIGH - United States Attorney Frank D. Whitney announced that on Tuesday, February 15, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit handed down their opinion in the case of United States v. Garland Bennett Garrett, Jr., No. 03-4569.

Garrett's challenge to his federal conviction in the Eastern District of North Carolina--for operating an illegal gambling business ("IGB")--was rejected by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles federal appeals for five Mid-Atlantic states and is headquartered in Richmond. Garrett had argued that the federal IGB statute violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, because North Carolina's laws permit Native American-run gambling on tribal lands, but prohibit all other citizens from operating gambling businesses. The Fourth Circuit rejected this argument, noting that "the unique historical relationship between the United States and Native American nations, as well as constitutional authorization emanating from the [Constitution's] 'Indian commerce clause.'" The Court also rejected Garrett's claim that North Carolina's gambling laws represented an impermissible burden on interstate commerce.

U. S. Attorney Whitney said, "This is yet another victory in the fight against illegal video poker operations in North Carolina. Many operators have rationalized their illegal gambling operations under the false premise that gambling on the reservation of the Eastern Branch of the Cherokee Indians legitimized their crimes. The Fourth Circuit clearly rejected this argument and held that legal and licensed gambling on the Cherokee reservation does not violate the Constitutional rights of those operating illegal gambling businesses elsewhere in North Carolina. OPERATION DOUBLE BLACK DIAMOND--the joint state and federal investigation into illegal video poker operations in North Carolina--continues."

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney's web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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